Welcome to the Bluegrass Politics Debate. Each week through the end of September, the candidates for mayor of Lexington and the 6th Congressional District will debate a topic chosen by the Lexington Herald-Leader. The candidates for U.S. Senate declined to participate in the debate.
The rules: The candidates ask and answer the questions. Questions are limited to 35 words. Answers are limited to 75 words. Rebuttals are limited to 35 words.
The candidates: Mayor Jim Newberry and Vice Mayor Jim Gray
Week 3 topic: Downtown development
Gray's question for Newberry: My family invested in downtown and created local jobs by renovating the Wolf Wile building to headquarter Gray Construction. We continue to contribute to successful downtown projects. I have a downtown development plan, do you?
Newberry's answer: Look around. New sidewalks, rain gardens, pavilion, nightlife, bike lanes, interaction with UK campus on South Lime! Plus private investments are being made, creating jobs. I've been implementing my plan, and there's lots more to come. That's record, not rhetoric. It takes grit and leadership to turn plans into reality. No action as vice mayor, but suddenly your so-called plan is ready for campaign season? Actions speak louder than words!
Gray's rebuttal: The Herald-Leader recently said "by the time November rolls around, Mayor Jim Newberry will be taking a bow for putting the blue in bluegrass." It didn't take you that long. Read my downtown plan: Jimgray.org/fsdowntown.html.
Newberry's question for Gray: When asked, you refused to join the Downtown Development Authority Board. Missed 50 percent of Lexington Center Board meetings. Opposed infill/redevelopment projects, failed to appoint Centrepointe task force and offered no legislation on downtown development. Why?
Gray's answer: I'm proud of my record. I won't join boards that violate their purpose; the DDA encouraged Newberry's failed Centrepointe project. I warned of its flawed business plan. As vice mayor, I've attended more council meetings than Newberry; chaired the Infill & Redevelopment Task Force; appointed 22 working groups, got under the hood, fixed problems.
Newberry's rebuttal: Let's talk real accomplishments. Through hard work I made Lexington safer, created jobs, protected farmland, improved downtown, reduced traffic congestion, expanded accountability and more. That's moving Lexington forward. Results, not rhetoric. See our accomplishments: Mayornewberry2010.com.
6TH DISTRICT DEBATE
The candidates: U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, D-Versailles, and Republican Andy Barr, a Lexington lawyer.
Week 3 topic: Health care
Chandler's question for Barr: You've expressed strong support for Milton Friedman's ideology which seeks to eliminate Medicare and Medicaid. What programs, if any, would you put in their place? Or will you now unequivocally renounce Friedman's radical views?
Barr's answer: Washington politicians, not Milton Friedman, are to blame for placing Medicare and Medicaid on an unsustainable course. What's radical is your record of voting 94 percent of the time with Nancy Pelosi. In fact, you voted four times to advance legislation that adds billions to Medicaid's unfunded liabilities and cuts Medicare by over $500 billion. Rather than blaming a deceased economist, I will work to save Medicare and Medicaid and force Congress to keep its commitments.
Chandler's rebuttal: This week you say you'll "protect" Medicare and Medicaid, but recently you opposed the bill keeping Medicaid working in Kentucky. If you had your way, thousands of Kentuckians would go without Medicare and Medicaid.
Barr's question for Chandler: Since you ducked town hall meetings and accused your constituents of "incivility" during the most important debate in Congress in years, will you at least pledge to vote to repeal President Obama's health care legislation?
Chandler's answer: I've been meeting with and listening to countless Kentuckians in all 16 counties on both sides of the health care debate. I voted against the health care bill and would support repealing provisions that hurt Kentucky, but would fight to keep those that help, like eliminating the denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions. Unlike my opponent, I'd carefully consider what's right for our district and not be guided by blind ideology.
Barr's rebuttal: If you're really committed to listening to your constituents, why haven't you responded to the certified letter I sent you six weeks ago calling for 16 live, in-person debates in every county of the district?