Challenger Amanda Mays Bledsoe's professional experience, enthusiasm and deep connections in the 10th District make her an attractive candidate — if the district did not already have such an able incumbent seeking re-election to the Urban County Council.
For a first-term councilman, Harry Clarke has proved remarkably astute and effective. Thoughtful, open-minded, attuned to details while also seeing the big picture, Clarke hit the ground running and made important contributions to the council from the start.
Forfeiting his expertise after just one term would be a waste for the southwest Lexington district and the whole city.
Among other assets, Clarke also brings a useful perspective on how to leverage the arts to burnish Lexington's image and support economic development.
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He directed the University of Kentucky band for 20 years and retired after 14 years as director of the UK school of music, which achieved national acclaim under his leadership.
As a councilman, Clarke spearheaded creation of the public-private partnership that has put management of the MoonDance amphitheater in Beaumont under the Lexington Division of Parks and Recreation as part of a three-year pilot program.
MoonDance has done so well under the arrangement that the city is turning to the parks department's programmers in hopes of reviving the moribund Downtown Arts Center, which LexArts no longer wanted to manage.
Clarke's analysis would be invaluable as the council inevitably makes decisions about the convention center and Rupp Arena, the city's flagship properties.
Clarke also has a firm handle on district issues.
In interviews with the editorial board, he was able to explain much more clearly than Bledsoe how poor planning in the past spawned the need to barricade Agape Drive to prevent new developments from choking narrow streets in Dogwood Trace with through traffic.
Although many of the decisions about easing the district's traffic congestion and bottlenecks rest with the state, Clarke seems to be on top of state plans and has ideas about how to fix some of the snarls that frustrate drivers in the district.
The district stretches out the Harrodsburg Road corridor south of Southland Drive and Lane Allen Road to the Jessamine County line, taking in Pasadena Drive and part of northern Clays Mill Road.
Clarke publishes regular online newsletters to keep constituents informed and has helped reactivate a number of neighborhood associations.
At city hall, he has put a lot of effort into understanding the budget process, which, he observes, often produces large surpluses that trigger feeding frenzies of spending. He has ideas for budgeting more precisely and improving the process.
Voters in District 10 would do themselves and the whole city a favor by re-electing Clarke.
The unendorsed candidate may submit a 250-word response by noon Monday.