Politics & Government

Former council clerk takes on four-term incumbent in Lexington's 4th District council race

Julian E. Beard, left, and Susan Lamb
Julian E. Beard, left, and Susan Lamb

The contest to represent Lexington's 4th Urban County Council District features an incumbent making what he says is his final run for office and a challenger who is seeking election for the first time.

Incumbent Julian Beard and his opponent, Susan Lamb, differ on how effectively Beard has communicated with constituents, but both say the city must do more to tackle traffic problems and repair roads in the district, a primarily residential area between Nicholasville and Tates Creek roads.

Lamb was the top vote-getter in a three-way primary election earlier this year, besting Beard 47 percent to 35 percent. Lamb also holds a significant financial advantage over Beard.

As of Oct. 3, Lamb reported to the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance that she had raised $10,178 and spent $485, leaving her with $9,693 cash on hand. Beard had raised $1,617, spent $1,416 and had $201 cash on hand.

Julian Beard

Beard, 76, has held the 4th District seat since 2007 and said he expects his fifth race for councilman to be his last run for public office. He is chairman of the council's Economic and Community Development Committee and serves on the Planning and Zoning Committee and Budget and Finance Committee.

Beard said traffic and road conditions are a major issue across Lexington. The city, he said, has not been able to keep up with needed repairs and upgrades.

"I would like to see a better plan with our streets and roads," Beard said. "Our streets and roads are just a mess after last winter. ... We can't seem to ever get ahead of that game. We're always behind and we need to get these roads in better shape."

Beard, a retired banker, said money has been the "deciding factor" when it comes to repairing roads. Two years ago, the council took out a $10 million bond to help repair city streets, but that's not something the city can do every year, he said.

"You can't go to war," he said. "We just don't have enough money to do the repaving."

Responding to Lamb's criticism that he doesn't communicate well with constituents, Beard said his office is flooded with emails. But Beard said he responds to all of them, and often makes home visits.

Beard said he holds no reservations or regrets if the Nov. 4 election doesn't turn out in his favor.

"If it happens, it happens," Beard said. "It won't be the end of the world."

Susan Lamb

Lamb, 49, is a former Urban County Council clerk with more than 20 years of experience working in city government.

Lamb said she also frequently hears complaints about traffic, as well as break-ins and thefts from cars.

She said there is no perfect answer for traffic problems but said the city should explore placing more "calming devices" to stop travelers from speeding and cutting through neighborhoods.

A political newcomer, Lamb said there is a general lack of transparency about the goings-on at City Hall for voters in the district. She said improving communication between residents and the council is "critical."

Other council members have used social media, newsletters and other means to effectively communicate with voters, she said.

"I believe this is as simple as responding to a question, or as creative as forming and distributing a newsletter, making sure neighborhoods are aware of recent crime, upcoming projects, zone changes or text amendment public hearings, or any other matters that affect our property, basic services or quality of living," she said. "Engaging with the neighborhoods is crucial to know what's going on and what needs to be done."

If elected, Lamb said it will take time to adjust to the council and find solutions to the city's biggest challenges.

"I do know that I don't know everything and I'm definitely not going to walk through those doors thinking I do," she said. "I still have a huge learning curve."