Vice Mayor Jim Gray promised that if voters made him mayor he would eliminate what he called "pay to play" at city hall.
He reinforced that message by drumming on the 37 percent water rate increase and political contributions from water company employees and associates of Mayor Jim Newberry. Gray also made hay of the "$7,000 a foot" cost to taxpayers of redoing South Limestone.
Gray would undermine his own credibility by now attempting to recoup from political contributors the large sums that he loaned his winning campaign.
Raising money to retire the debt could be perceived as giving all the "players" a chance to get in the game with the new administration.
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In the past, Gray has written off personal loans to his campaigns. Doing so again would reassure the public that he's coming into office unencumbered, that he put part of his fortune into the mayor's race expecting nothing in return but the chance to serve and put his ideas into action.
Gray had loaned his campaign $480,000 as of the last report. He told staff writer Andy Mead that he put even more of his own money into the campaign after the most recent reporting deadline, but the amount won't be revealed until the next reports in December.
Gray also said he hasn't decided whether to try to repay himself by political fund-raising.
As he decides, he should remember the toll that fund-raising to recoup personal campaign debts took on former Gov. Brereton Jones' reputation and effectiveness in office.
It's a big sum to swallow. But avoiding a stain on Gray's promised "fresh start" might be worth the financial pain.
Also, once Gray is mayor he should follow through on the issues he raised by criticizing the South Limestone project's cost.
Because of the informal road-building monopolies and lack of competition for contracts, Kentucky taxpayers pay more than necessary, and more than taxpayers in other states, for road construction and repairs.
This is exactly the kind of waste that candidate Gray bemoaned. As mayor of the state's second-largest city, he will have the leverage to tackle this long-standing drain on local and state governments, especially if he can enlist elected officials in other counties.