Lexington voters in District 3 can't go wrong Nov. 4, but political newcomer Jake Gibbs would bring more by far to the Urban County Council.
Incumbent Diane Lawless put the seat up for grabs by stepping down after three two-year terms.
Gibbs is sharing the ballot with a familiar name, councilman Chuck Ellinger II, who is seeking the district seat after reaching the 12-year term limit for at-large council members.
Unlike some long-term council members, Ellinger lacks signature accomplishments. Still, his experience, dependability and deep familiarity with the budget and city government's inner-workings would be assets.
Gibbs brings expertise that will shorten his learning curve and enable him to quickly become effective.
Plus his background and knowledge make him especially well suited to represent the 3rd District which encompasses downtown and the University of Kentucky and stretches to Southland Drive on the west side of Nicholasville Road.
In his conversations with the editorial board, Gibbs displayed thoughtful, well researched ideas about balancing growth and preservation and supporting infill development while also protecting neighborhoods and quality of life — in the 3rd District and across Fayette County.
Gibbs is especially eager to nurture town-gown connections and build on what he sees as hopeful signs that UK is becoming more respectful to its neighbors by housing more students on campus and reviewing policies that have helped push raucous student parties, vandalism and slum-like rental housing into established neighborhoods.
Downtown development is another of Gibbs' issues. He wants to encourage residential developments downtown where young adults could afford to live which in turn could finally spur retail development.
During his 26 years at Bluegrass Community and Technical College, where he is a history professor, Gibbs has been active in faculty governance and, as the college's ombudsman, dispute resolution; he is steeped in the kind of collegiality that builds consensus on the council.
He's served as president of the Bell Court Neighborhood Association and the Friends of the Library.
As a former owner of Alfalfa restaurant, he was a pioneer in the local food movement, buying from local farmers by the pickup truck load.
Gibbs wants to continue advocating for local food and businesses, as well as for making Lexington friendlier to pedestrians and bicyclists.
He supports strengthening housing code enforcement, historic preservation and the Purchase of Development Rights program to protect farmland.
We appreciate and respect Ellinger's genuine devotion to Lexington and his service on the council; we are confident he will find ways to continue to serve.
But the fresh ideas and energy that Gibbs would bring to local government, along with his strong qualifications, make him the better choice.
The unendorsed candidate may submit a 250-word response by noon Thursday.