Politics & Government

Councilwoman Akers denies residency allegations while seeking second term

Lori Shevawn Akers during the swearing-in ceremony for council members, Jan. 6, 2013.
Lori Shevawn Akers during the swearing-in ceremony for council members, Jan. 6, 2013. Herald-Leader

Councilwoman Shevawn Akers has filed to run for re-election and denies allegations that she no longer lives in the 2nd District.

"I have lived in the 2nd District for nearly 12 years now and am proud of the work I've accomplished on behalf of my constituents," Akers said.

The 2nd District is on the northwest side of town and includes Leestown Road and neighborhoods such as Meadowthorpe and Masterson Station. Akers, 38, was first elected in 2012.

The city received complaints in mid-December alleging that Akers had rented the home she owns on Cedar Mill Circle in October and was living with her fiancé, who lives outside the 2nd District.

The Urban County Government charter says that once someone is elected to serve on the council, they must continue to reside in that district.

According to an email Akers sent city officials, including Mayor Jim Gray, she stayed with a friend on Lucille Drive after renting her home. Both Lucille Drive and Cedar Mill Circle are in Masterson Station and in the 2nd District. The Herald-Leader obtained the emails through an Open Records Act request.

"I rented my house on Cedar Mill Circle in October of this year to save money and build a house in the coming months. I have lived on Lucille since October," she wrote. Akers said in the Dec. 20 email that she intends to build a house in the Coventry subdivision, which is also in the 2nd District.

Akers lists the Lucille Drive home on her voter registration.

But the address was changed on Dec. 23, according to Fayette County Clerk records. That was three days after the original complaints questioning Akers residency were sent to city officials, according to emails.

When asked why she changed her address in late December, Akers said the address was automatically changed when she got her new car tags in December. Fayette County Clerk records show that the voter registration address change was triggered by another agency, meaning it was automatically updated when Akers got her car tags.

Akers said her car tags had expired in October. She didn't have an opportunity to renew them and change her address to Lucille Drive until after the Urban County Council went on a break in mid-December, she said.

Akers admits that she did spend a lot of time at her fiance's house, particularly over Christmas. They are trying to prepare his house to rent or lease in January, she said.

But the questions concerning Akers' residency are now moot.

Akers and her son moved into a home on Skyview Lane last week. It's a lease-to-purchase option.

"I moved in this weekend," Akers said.

Akers said that she and her fiancé decided to scuttle plans to build in the Coventry subdivision because it was going to be too expensive.

"I wanted to build in the Coventry subdivision, but it turned out to be cost-prohibitive compared to the house we signed a contract on last week, which was similar square footage for $60,000 less," Akers said.

Michael Stuart, who has filed to run in the 2nd District, said he had only heard rumors that Akers did not live in her district but assumed that they were only rumors. Stuart, a small business owner and first-time candidate, said he is focusing "on planning, fundraising, and most importantly, knocking on doors to get residents' input on community issues."

Akers said that the complaints were likely from people who do not agree with some of her stances on controversial issues. Akers was critical of the Masterson Station Homeowners Association after it foreclosed on a woman's home after the woman failed to pay her association fees. The homeowners association alleges that the woman was notified multiple times about the past-due fees and ignored those notices.

"Unfortunately, my advocacy on a controversial issue has resulted in unfounded accusations, to divert attention from important issues in Lexington, such as foreclosing on someone's home for past due association fees," Akers said.

The Urban County Government Ethics Commission, which investigates complaints regarding Urban County Council members, has not received any complaints regarding any council member, council staff said this week.