Kevin Stinnett was 28 when he was first elected to the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council.
Stinnett, who served five, two-year terms representing the 6th Council District and one four-year term as an at-large member, is one of the city’s longest-serving council members. Thursday night was his last meeting after 14 years on the council.
“He worked to improve employee health care, he worked so hard on that, and the police and fire pension fund,” said Lexington Mayor Jim Gray during Thursday night’s meeting.
Stinnett, 44, also pushed for key road improvements in the 6th Council District, including those on Todds Road, Liberty Road, Winchester Road and Man o’ War Boulevard. He also co-sponsored an ordinance that created the city’s rainy day fund, among others, Gray said.
“He also knew what was going on in city hall way before I did,” Gray joked.
Stinnett has chaired the council’s Budget, Finance and Economic Development Committee for the past four years. His knowledge of the often byzantine city budget has been invaluable, council members said Thursday.
“You’re generous and you have a huge heart,” said Councilwoman Amanda Bledsoe.
Stinnett is stepping down from the council after he unsuccessfully ran for mayor earlier this year.
Peggy Henson, who was first appointed to her 11th Council District seat in 2008 and has served 10 years on council, also was honored Thursday night. Henson announced last year that she would retire and not seek another term. Henson has held various leadership roles during her time on the council.
In addition to representing the culturally diverse 11th District, which includes neighborhoods in the Versailles Road corridor, Henson has pushed the city to ensure all its services are accessible to people with disabilities, Gray said.
Henson retired in 2010 after spending 20 years helping people — including those with disabilities — overcome barriers to employment at Employment Solutions.
“We will never find a bigger heart than this lady right here,” said Councilman Richard Moloney of Henson.
Ray Sexton, executive director of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission, said Henson supported and championed the commission throughout her decade on council and frequently turned to the commission when her constituents were discriminated against.
The Human Rights Commission passed a resolution, which Sexton read Thursday, honoring Henson as a “voice for the voiceless and a champion of the under-served.”
Jennifer Reynolds, who was elected in November to replace Henson, said during the Thursday meeting Henson is beloved by people in the 11th Council District.
“Time and time again she believes in others,” Reynolds said.
It was Henson who convinced Reynolds to run for the open 11th District seat, a position Reynolds said she would have never considered if it wasn’t for Henson. “I’ve knocked on thousands and thousands of doors and I can honestly say that the majority of the 11th Council District loves and respects Councilwoman Henson,” she said.
Also honored Thursday night was outgoing Councilman Joe Smith, who was appointed in May 2017 to the 2nd Council District seat but was defeated in the November general election by challenger Josh McCurn. Smith, a real estate agent, had previously served on the Urban County Planning Commission and the Board of Adjustment.
“This evening is a demonstration of how lucky we are in this community,” said Vice Mayor Steve Kay of the outgoing council members.