Voters in Lexington's 1st Council District face a tough choice between two engaging and energetic first-time candidates running in the special election that became necessary when former 1st District Councilman Chris Ford left to become the city's social services commissioner.
Our choice is James Brown, whom Mayor Jim Gray appointed in April to serve until the post is filled in the Nov. 3 election.
The district comprises a large portion of downtown Lexington and the northeast end, running roughly from Midland Avenue, Second and Georgetown streets to New Circle Road and out Russell Cave Road beyond Man o' War.
Before he joined the council, Brown, who grew up in the district, had been active in a host of civic roles.
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He served as president of the Radcliffe-Marlboro Neighborhood Association for several years, was president of the 16th district PTA and a member of the Bryan Station High School site-based council. Brown also served on the school district's recent rezoning committee.
On the council, Brown, who became a Realtor after a 13-year career at Toyota, has advocated successfully for projects important to his district, including money to make repairs on the Morton House in Duncan Park and to expand the summer youth program that provides teenagers with both jobs and training.
Brown suggested that the centennial celebration of Douglass Park be extended beyond a one-day event to a full year of programming to both elevate the profile of the park and educate the community about its history.
He is organizing the commission that will plan the centennial. Brown has also been a strong voice in support of raising the minimum wage in Fayette County.
In his interview with the editorial board, Brown suggested thoughtful, common sense approaches to a number of challenges facing the district. For example, he suggested that unemployment can be alleviated by developing networks to get the word out about jobs, seeking out scholarships to help fund training opportunities and improving transportation options to allow people to get to work.
His opponent, Jim Burton, does not have such a long history in the district or of public engagement, but he displays both passion for and knowledge about some of the challenges facing the 1st District and the city.
A Mount Sterling native, Burton attended college in the district at Transylvania University and purchased a home on Martin Luther King when he returned to Lexington in 2010.
Burton, who owns an independent insurance adjustment firm, said the district has been "left behind" in the city's allocation of resources for parks, policing, traffic control and other services. He and Brown do not differ on many key issues, but Burton believes he will push harder for the district.
We urge Burton to stay involved and hope others will tap his energy to serve the community on boards and commissions.
However, for this seat this year Brown's long experience in the district and in serving the Fayette County community earn him the nod.
The unendorsed candidate may submit a 250-word response by noon Monday.