Politics & Government

Lexington's 8th District council race features former incumbent and first-time candidate

Fred V. Brown, left and LeTonia Jones.
Fred V. Brown, left and LeTonia Jones.

The race for the open Urban County Council 8th District seat in south Lexington pits a first-time candidate against a former council member.

Domestic violence advocate LeTonia Jones is taking on former councilman Fred V. Brown, who left office in 2004 after a decade on the council.

As of Oct. 3, Brown had raised $4,645.30, including a personal loan to his campaign of $1,000, and had spent just more than $4,038. Jones had raised $3,342.73, including $2,383 left from her primary campaign. She had spent $1,836.

Fred V. Brown

Brown, a CPA who is now semi-retired, said he hoped to return to public service now that he had more time.

"Experience counts in this position," Brown said. "I've lived in my district in the same house for 37 years. ... I know my area real well.

Of his previous time in office, Brown said he was proud of creating several passive parks as greenspaces and the renovation of the Tates Creek Aquatic Center.

"They were going to condemn that, and I was able to justify the fact that it needed to stay open for all the area there," he said. "There are a lot of needy kids that need a place to come and enjoy the summer."

Brown also cited the police roll call center in Gainesway as another accomplishment.

"It helps because there's a lot of police presence. It's been a real blessing for that area," Brown said. "I'm advocating for a fourth police sector because the three (we have) are spread too thin. I think we need a fourth for more police coverage."

Brown said he was focused on crime because his district, which runs from Tates Creek to Alumni outside of New Circle Road, is diverse.

He said traffic also was a major concern.

"Armstrong Mill Road has been a speedway, and we have no sidewalks," Brown said. "We need sidewalks there. We've got students that walk along there to go to Tates Creek schools."

Brown said his experience and his knowledge of accounting were what he would bring to the office.

"Basic services for what you pay your taxes for — the largest part of what we do down at city hall is spend your money," he said. "You'd like to have somebody who recognizes budgeting and accounting controls."

LeTonia Jones

Jones is a graduate of Emerge Kentucky, a program to encourage and train Democratic women to run for office, and she said she hoped to bring "a different lens" to the council.

"I have been doing grass-roots work for quite some time," she said, noting that she had worked for the YWCA Spouse Abuse Center, the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association, and the Bluegrass Rape Crisis Center. "That work put me in touch with people at their most difficult times."

Jones, who also served on Gov. Steve Beshear's task force on re-entry after leaving incarceration, said domestic issues often intersect with economic ones.

"I see how some of the policy positions directly impact people's lives. I want to be a proponent of raising the minimum wage," Jones said. "I know right now people making $7.25 live $3,000 below the poverty line. If we were to raise that to $10.10, that would take them to just above the poverty line. ... If we can enact something here in the city — an ordinance to raise minimum wage — that will give them a little bit more money in their pockets."

And that $3,000 might be the thing to help make a change in their lives, she said.

Jones said she also would focus on work force development and community enrichment.

"I'm looking at maybe a farmers market on this side of Lexington," Jones said. "We do have grocery stores in the part of the city, but not everybody has access to a car. If you're shopping for your family, it's hard to load everything up on the bus. I want to start ways of accessing the farmers market, educating people on food."

She said a community garden could help create healthy food resources for the neighborhood and give children something to get involved in.

"I've been a community organizer, done grass-roots organization, and I want to bring that spirit. People want their council member to be accessible, inclusive and responsive," Jones said.