Elections

Lexington mayoral candidates sound off at debate

Jim Newberry during a mayoral forum at Awesome Inc. in Lexington, Ky., Wednesday, February 24, 2010. Photo by Matt Goins 9650
Jim Newberry during a mayoral forum at Awesome Inc. in Lexington, Ky., Wednesday, February 24, 2010. Photo by Matt Goins 9650 Lexington Herald-Leader

If casino gambling becomes legal in Kentucky, Mayor Jim Newberry and former Mayor Teresa Isaac said they would welcome it in Lexington as long as it helps the horse industry.

Skip Horine, a businessman who will face Newberry and Isaac in the May 18 primary, also said he's come around to the idea that "if people want to be able to gamble, it's OK."

Vice Mayor Jim Gray, the fourth person on the ballot, was the only one at a Monday night forum who would not answer the question.

"There will be a lot of opportunities for us to process that when we get to it," Gray said.

The question, from Greg Stotel myer, a senior political reporter for WTVQ-36, was rare in that it led the candidates into an area they have not covered repeatedly in the campaign for the city's top spot.

For two hours, the four answered questions from Stotelmyer, WLEX-18 news anchor Nancy Cox and WKYT-27 reporter Janet Kim; Tates Creek Middle School students; and citizens at a forum sponsored by the Tatesbrook Neighborhood Association.

The candidates have participated in a number of these forums. Some of what they say about one another and their responses to questions are becoming almost rote:

Gray, for example, accuses Newberry of being too accepting of the Webb Co.'s plans for the stalled CentrePointe project. The project now is a grassy field in the middle of downtown.

Newberry counters that Gray is all talk and no action, pointing out that the vice mayor said Aug. 7, 2008, that he was going to launch a task force to explore why the city allowed some of the buildings in the CentrePointe block to be neglected by their owners, but he has done nothing. Newberry even keeps a running count of the inaction. On Monday, it was 627 days.

Isaac, who was denied re-election in 2006 and has been out of office while Newberry and Gray have been in, finds fault with the things that "this mayor and vice mayor" have done, such as closing fire stations to meet budget shortfalls and imposing a $100 business tax (that now is in the process of being lifted).

And Horine talks about allegations of police corruption and misbehavior, while promising to run the city under conservative principles.

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