Politics & Government

Two newcomers seek open 6th District seat on Lexington council

Angela Evans, left, proposes adding sidewalks and bike lanes to Liberty Road. Thomas Hern says more police officers will help deter drug use and break-ins.
Angela Evans, left, proposes adding sidewalks and bike lanes to Liberty Road. Thomas Hern says more police officers will help deter drug use and break-ins.

Two political newcomers are vying for the open 6th District seat on the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council.

The district is currently represented by Councilman Kevin Stinnett, who is running for an at-large seat on the council.

Angela Evans, an attorney who works in the state attorney general's office, and Thomas Hern, a consultant who has owned auto dealerships, agreed that traffic is the biggest issue facing the east Lexington district, which includes Hamburg and the Eastland neighborhood.

Plans for a new high school along Winchester Road could make those snarls even worse, they said. Hern said the new school should have multiple entrances and exits to disperse traffic.

Both candidates also mentioned the Liberty/Todds Road corridor as a key area.

Hern said he would work to make sure that planned Todds Road improvements are completed to the satisfaction of area residents.

Evans said she would work with transportation officials and residents on a long-range plan to continue the widening of Liberty Road, including adding sidewalks and bike lanes.

Both also said crime and safety are top concerns for residents of the district.

Evans, who said she has received the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police, said the Eastland area has a CLEAR (Community Law Enforcement Action Response) officer, and she would like to see more of them added to other neighborhoods. Officers in the CLEAR program provide a dedicated presence in neighborhoods, helping residents feel more secure, she said.

Evans said constituents in the Hi Acres subdivision in particular had mentioned break-ins.

"No one wants to feel like they're being monitored, but ... people are concerned about their property," she said.

Hern said problems with heroin and other drugs are only going to increase, and he said he thinks it's a primary cause of break-ins and property thefts.

"The FBI states that a city like Lexington needs to have another 100 police officers," he said. "I would urge the mayor to add these officers as soon as possible."

Hern said the money the city spent on plans for renovating Rupp Arena could have been better spent on beefing up the police department.

"If you had those people on the ground, that would maybe deter some of those break-ins," he said.

He said he became interested in running for a seat on the council after watching the Rupp project fall apart.

"The city had spent $4 million ... without really having a true sense that UK was really involved," Hern said. "The way it was handled was poorly done. I thought the council probably needed someone with an accounting business background."

Hern cited his business experience as a strength that would give him insight into budget issues, whereas Evans said her 13 years of experience working in state and local government makes her qualified for the job.

"I have to work with regulations and statutes every day," said Evans, who in her role as an assistant attorney general is general counsel to several professional licensing boards. She is a former public defender who spent six years on Lexington's Ethics Commission, and she was its chairwoman from 2007 to 2009.

"I've always felt like I wanted to give back in a political role," Evans said. "I'm ready to help lead my city."

As of Oct. 3, Evans had raised $7,723 and spent $1,630, leaving her campaign with $6,093 in cash on hand, according to filings with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance. Hern had raised $5,837 and spent $1,936, leaving him with $3,901 cash on hand.