Lexington Councilman Kevin Stinnett pledged Wednesday to “work as hard as you work” if elected mayor and said his more than decade-long tenure on the city council makes him the best candidate for Lexington’s top job.
“This campaign is going to be about who can bring neighborhoods and people together to solve problems,” Stinnett said. “It’s going to be about who can build and maintain a strong and diverse economy and create jobs. It’s going to be about who best understands that safety and security of our homes and children is our number one job.”
Stinnett, who has spent more than 14 years on the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council, officially kicked off his campaign Wednesday at Kenawood Park off Bryan Station Road. Stinnett said he chose the park because it is where his political career started.
He played sports at the neighborhood park as a child and later became a youth sports coach there. Getting lights for a baseball field at Kenawood was one of the first things he did when he was elected to the 6th Council District seat in 2004. He served five terms as a district councilman before being elected to an at-large council seat in 2014.
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Stinnett, who is chairman of the council’s budget committee, said he has pushed for strong financial management and new programs to tackle key issues, such as job creation and substance abuse.
“I was the driving force in establishing Lexington’s first debt management plan. I co-sponsored the rainy day fund. I was a leader in developing solutions to our stormwater and sewer problems,” Stinnett said. “I pushed for the creation of the substance abuse and violence intervention office.”
Stinnett said his top issues include public safety, education and infrastructure needs. Pressures on the city’s budget are also a top concern as Lexington braces for a possible steep increase in the city’s payment to the state’s ailing pension system.
Stinnett, 43, said he planned to file his official paperwork to run for mayor later Wednesday.
Former Vice Mayor Linda Gorton announced in December that she will run for the open seat. In addition, Ike Lawrence, who works in the real estate business, has filed to run.
Mayor Jim Gray announced in late December that he will run for Congress instead of seeking a third and final term as mayor.
Stinnett, a financial adviser and business owner, did not name Gorton in his comments Tuesday, but referenced her by saying he wants the job so he can make Lexington a better place to live, not because he needs a “post-retirement plan.”
Gorton, a retired nurse, is the longest-serving council member in the history of Lexington’s merged government. She served 16 years on the council before retiring in December 2014.
“Lexington is a really fortunate place because we do have people who are willing to run for office,” Gorton said. “I look forward to serving because I don’t have another job and will be able to dedicate my entire focus to serving the people of Lexington.”
Former Vice Mayor Mike Scanlon had previously said he was considering a run for mayor, but he announced Tuesday he will instead support Stinnett.
“I feel Kevin Stinnett is the best choice among all of us to be our next mayor,” Scanlon said. “The next mayor should not use this important leadership role for a steppingstone or an end-of-career, post-retirement job.”
Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who had been mentioned as a possible candidate, has also said she will not run.
Former state auditor Adam Edelen said Wednesday that he will not run for mayor.
Former Lexington Police Chief Anthany Beatty, who is now an executive at the University of Kentucky, has also been mentioned as a possible candidate. Beatty did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
Stinnett said the amount of money he will have to raise will depend largely on how many candidates get into the race. The filing deadline is Jan. 30.