Fayette County

A first for Lexington: Women outnumber men on Urban County Council

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray and the city's eight female council members posed for a photograph at the Government Center in downtown Lexington Wednesday. Front row (left to right): Angela Evans, Jennifer Mossotti, Mayor Gray, Kathy Plomin, Shevawn Akers. Back row (left to right): Amanda Bledsoe, Jennifer Scutchfield, Peggy Henson, Susan Lamb.
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray and the city's eight female council members posed for a photograph at the Government Center in downtown Lexington Wednesday. Front row (left to right): Angela Evans, Jennifer Mossotti, Mayor Gray, Kathy Plomin, Shevawn Akers. Back row (left to right): Amanda Bledsoe, Jennifer Scutchfield, Peggy Henson, Susan Lamb.

A former United Way and television executive was sworn in Wednesday as the newest member of Lexington’s Urban County Council. Kathy Plomin’s appointment was history-making. For the first time since Lexington’s merged government was created in 1974, there are now more women on Lexington’s council than men.

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray appointed Plomin, 62, to fill the unexpired term of Russ Hensley, who resigned last month and announced he was withdrawing from the Nov. 8 general election. That means Plomin, Hensley’s opponent, is all-but guaranteed to win on Nov. 8. Plomin represents the 12th District, which includes much of the rural area of Fayette County.

Plomin worked at WKYT-TV as a vice president for more than 20 years and is a former president and CEO of United Way of the Bluegrass.

Before officially taking her oath at a ceremony Wednesday in Lexington’s government center lobby, Plomin said she has met with more than 80 people in the 12th District and has attended several council and other committee meetings in the past eight months to familiarize herself with the council’s business and rules.

“I look forward to getting started on helping to make Lexington the best it can be for all of our citizens,” Plomin said.

A key issue facing the 12th District is the 2017 Comprehensive Plan, a five-year plan that guides growth and development. Plomin said she supports keeping the current urban service boundary, which has not been expanded in two decades.

“I would like us to concentrate on inside the urban service boundary. There are a lot of areas inside the boundary that are underutilized,” Plomin said. “Perhaps we should take a look at the regulations to make it easier for developers to build inside the urban service boundary.”

When Plomin attends her first council committee meeting on Tuesday, she will be the eighth woman on the council, along with seven men. That ratio will remain after the Nov. 8. election. Only one Urban County Council race is contested, but both candidates are women. Incumbent Councilwoman Shevawn Akers faces newcomer Sasha Love Higgins in the 2nd District race. The 2nd District includes the high-growth corridor along Leestown Road and one of the state’s largest neighborhoods, Masterson Station.

It’s a historic week for women in government in Fayette County. Earlier this week, Lou Anna Red Corn was sworn in as the Fayette Commonwealth’s Attorney, the first woman to serve as the county’s top prosecutor.

Lexington voters have previously elected two women as mayor — Pam Miller and Teresa Issac. Miller and Isaac had served as vice mayor before being elected mayor. Three other women — Isabel Yates, Linda Gorton and Ann Ross — have also served as vice mayor.

A native of Fort Thomas in Northern Kentucky, Plomin and her husband, John, have two adult sons, Kyle and Sam. Plomin is currently an independent development consultant who has recently worked on fundraising for the Living Arts and Science Center, Spindletop and as director of 100 Women, an organization that focuses on fundraising for nonprofits that help women and children.

Gray said Plomin is “well prepared” for her new role.

“She has a thorough understanding of Lexington and is devoted to our city,” Gray said.

Beth Musgrave: 859-231-3205, @HLCityhall

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