Our choice to represent District 4 on the Urban County Council is Susan Lamb.
Although she is a first-time candidate, Lamb has deep experience with city government from her 27 years on staff there, the last six as council clerk, before her retirement last year.
In that position, she worked effectively to make local government more accessible and responsive to citizens, pushing for upgrades to the video system and installing an electronic voting system so that citizens can watch government in action and know how council members voted.
In her interview with the editorial board and in other settings, Lamb has demonstrated both an impressive grasp of many of the issues — affordable housing, economic development and the need for infill development to protect green space — and an enthusiasm for taking them on.
Lamb is running against Julian Beard, who since 2007 has represented the district, which mostly includes Tates Creek and Nicholasville roads from south of Alumni Drive to Man o' War. We have endorsed Beard in the past, and the candidates are not widely separated on issues. What seems to separate them most are style and energy.
Beard, for example, does not produce a newsletter to provide updates for people in the district on city work and plans in the area, initiatives that affect the entire community, and to remind them how to get in touch with him. Lamb has promised to produce a regular newsletter, and her history in making government more transparent makes it a good bet she'll do just that.
Beard, who has extensive experience in banking and economic development, is a fiscal conservative who keeps a close eye on city expenditures. While that caution serves the city, Beard sometimes seems to overlook the benefit of investing in trails and other amenities that can provide long-term benefit to the community, both economic and social.
Their divergent approaches are evident in the response each gave to a question posed in the Fayette Alliance's election questionnaire. Noting Lexington's obligation under a consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency to spend $600 million to repair and update sanitary sewer and stormwater systems, the Alliance asked: What is the biggest challenge facing Lexington in achieving sound water quality conditions?
Beard responded that the biggest challenge would be finding enough contractors to do the work within the allotted time, while Lamb saw a bigger picture, noting the challenge of "educating the public about what is next and how to be a responsible citizen when it comes to our sanitary sewers and stormwater systems."
Beard has been a valuable, independent voice on the council. If he wins re-election we urge him to be more engaged with his constituents and to use his knowledge and experience to help find solutions for the challenges facing Lexington.
But Lamb gets our nod, giving every indication of providing an independent voice, while doing a better job of communicating with and listening to constituents, and bringing a new energy to addressing Lexington's challenges and opportunities.
The unendorsed candidate may respond in a 250-word letter by noon Friday.