Voters propelled the only incumbent in the at-large Urban County Council race to the front of the pack Tuesday night, making Steve Kay Lexington's next vice mayor.
Current 6th District councilman Kevin Stinnett narrowly edged out former councilman Richard Moloney for second place. Both men will join Kay to fill Lexington's three at-large council seats.
The top three winners are current or former council members. Former council member Bill Cegelka, newcomer Chris Logan and Fayette County Judge-Executive Jon Larson came up short.
Vice Mayor Linda Gorton did not seek re-election.
Kay, 71, a professional facilitator for public policy organizations, said he will focus on finding long-term solutions to systemic problems based on his knowledge of how the city works.
He was chairman of the city's homelessness task force, which resulted in a new Office of Homelessness Intervention and Prevention and a new affordable housing manager. He also worked to get the city's first local food coordinator, aimed at improving the local food economy.
On Tuesday night, Kay thanked "hundreds of people" who knocked on doors and held events to help with his campaign.
"I would say being an incumbent helped, and having a record people could look at," he said about his victory. "Some of what I did, I think people appreciated, and that showed up in some in the way they voted."
Stinnett, 40, who owns a financial services company, has spent the past 10 years representing the 6th District. He said Tuesday that he was grateful to be back on the council, serving the entire city.
"We have a lot of big issues," he said. "We have to continue to work on finances, we have to continue our downtown revitalization, and we have to make sure neighborhoods are safer."
Moloney, 54, is a former council member and a city administrator who has seen the inner workings of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government.
He also comes from a politically immersed family, including his own unsuccessful run for the state Senate last year. His message was based on making Lexington safer with more community police in the city's most beleaguered neighborhoods, and on improving the city's job offerings with better training sponsored by the city.
"I'm tickled to death, and I want to thank the people for voting me in," Moloney said.
He said the new council will have to deal with the budget soon after taking office.
"We have to make sure we get on top of that quickly," he said.
Kay said his first move after taking office next year will be to sit down with the administration and work out priorities.
"The vice mayor is the link between the council and the mayor, not to get in between them, but to help facilitate that communication," he said. "We have many things to work on, so I'm looking forward to that."
The at-large race was expensive, with both Moloney and Stinnett raising more than $50,000 by Oct. 3, the most recent campaign finance filing deadline for which numbers are available. Kay raised about $19,000, but he saved most of it for the end of the campaign.