Fayette County

7th District council issues include crime, traffic

The 2010 council race for Lexington's 7th District looks a lot like the 2008 race. Same two candidates two years later, but with more experience and more sharply drawn differences.

In 2008, incumbent KC Crosbie defeated Chris Logan in the non-partisan race, with 5,104 votes to Logan's 3,827.

Crosbie said she has gained even more experience and insight into how local government works, all the while responding to constituent concerns; the evening before speaking to a reporter recently, Crosbie had spent three hours with residents of the Athens-Chilesburg corridor discussing area concerns.

Logan decided to run again, he said, because he still thinks there are concerns not being addressed in the district.

The 7th District is a diverse chunk of Lexington outside of New Circle Road that includes Woodhill, parts of Andover and the Athens-Chilesburg corridor. For years it included not only rural Lexington but one of the biggest areas of Lexington growth; even the apartment complex off New Circle and Richmond roads was thriving.

Now, the issues revolve around managing that growth. The apartment complex, most recently called Pennington Place, has been closed and is widely considered an eyesore that draws arson and crime. The areas around Hays Boulevard and Todds Road carry large amounts of traffic, and nearby Hamburg has created a mini-city within the greater city of Lexington.

Woodhill crime

Almost immediately after being elected, Crosbie faced her first test: Crime in Wood-hill — a neighborhood off New Circle Road that includes a mix of houses, townhomes and apartments, plus shopping centers — was on the rise, and neighbors were concerned. Crosbie worked with the neighborhood and police to establish crime control and youth activities in the area, she said.

More recently, Crosbie has pressed Mayor Jim Newberry's administration for more access to details about fraud allegations made by Patrick Johnston, the director of risk management. Johnston questioned the way some of the city's insurance had been switched to the Kentucky League of Cities in 2007. The state auditor found there was no fraud in the situation.

Crosbie said constituents and other Lexingtonians have thanked her for her watchdog efforts.

"You're not always going to be right," Crosbie said. "When I was growing up, my parents told me, 'Don't ever be afraid to ask a question.' ... I certainly have proved that I will ask the hard questions and I will do the work."

Does she have plans to seek other jobs?

"My plan has always been that I do the best I can," she said. "I enjoy the 7th District."

Although Crosbie's husband, Scott, an attorney, has announced his support of the mayoral bid of Vice Mayor Jim Gray, Crosbie says she has not formally endorsed Gray or the incumbent.

Crosbie, a youth soccer coach and Sunday school teacher, said the vacant Pennington Place apartment complex "has been a drain on our city ... with code enforcement going out there almost every day."

She said the city has ordinances in place, including a vacant property review commission, and should press forward with notices and fines to the owner of the apartments.

The Todds Road expansion to allow for turn lanes in the two-lane road "has helped tremendously" with traffic issues, including neighborhood cut-throughs, Crosbie said. For many of her constituents now, she said, the biggest issues are taxes and city economic development, followed by concerns about flooding, crime and traffic.

Crosbie said she and volunteers have walked the entire district.

"You're always doing stuff in the neighborhood, and there are always needs," Crosbie said.

Crosbie has a balance of $32,312 in campaign funds, according to the most recent report filed with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance.

Parks and recreation

Logan, a minister at Highpoint Church in north Lexington, says he came out of nowhere last time with an impressive showing against Crosbie, who he acknowledged has an edge in name recognition. He counters by saying he has loyal ground troops: "Our strategy is to run a very hard ground campaign door-to-door."

Lexington's parks and recreation program needs more city attention, with tens of millions of dollars of needs identified in the parks, Logan said. Facilities such as Jacobson Park, he said, "have so much potential."

But he says he knows that taxes are not infinite and that every issue can't be fixed to the satisfaction of every constitutent. "People just want to have a conversation. You can't fix everything, nor can you promise to fix everything."

Logan says the fraud investigation in which Crosbie played a key role was "overstated."

"We've went down a road that has cost taxpayers a tremendous amount of money to find out there was no fraud," Logan said. (The attorneys' fees for the city's investigation and the cost of the state auditor's report will be more than $100,000.)

Logan said he supports the re-election bid of Mayor Jim Newberry: "Under fire, he has done a good job."

"The 7th District has issues, but we get to help Lexington as a whole, not just the 7th District," Logan said.

One way to do that, he said, is to examine how Lexington bids contracts: "We have to funnel business back to our contractors and to Lexington. ... I believe economically, job-wise we can do better.

How can that be done? "Grow local, buy local, use local to the best of our ability," Logan said.

He has raised $7,732, according to the records with the state election finance registry.