Welcome to the Bluegrass Politics Debate. Each week through the end of September, the candidates for mayor of Lexington and the 6th Congressional District will debate a topic chosen by the Lexington Herald-Leader. The candidates for U.S. Senate declined to participate in the debate. Also, Republican 6th District candidate Andy Barr initially declined the newspaper's invitation to participate in the debate. The campaign reversed course late last week and will participate in the debate going forward.
The rules: The candidates ask and answer the questions. Questions are limited to 35 words. Answers are limited to 75 words. Rebuttals are limited to 35 words.Mayoral debate
The candidates: Mayor Jim Newberry and Vice Mayor Jim Gray
Week 1 topic: Lexington's water supply
Gray's question for Newberry: Instead of taking up for taxpayers and evaluating alternatives to the $160 million water project, you said no. You've taken $18,000 in campaign cash from those with ties to Kentucky American Water. Shouldn't we be skeptical?
Newberry's answer: I'm skeptical of Gray. Gray says Lexington had no water supply problem! Remember the droughts? I opposed spending $15,000 for a superficial review of Kentucky American and Louisville plans. Council members agreed, voting it down. The PSC spent tens of thousands, extensively studied the plans and found Kentucky American most cost effective. As for campaign contributions, I question the $18,000 figure, but it represents only about 1 percent of my total support.
Gray's rebuttal: This plant was unnecessary and unneeded. It could've been remedied with a new, more reliable source. Newberry's plan relies on the Kentucky River only. He blocked analysis, and we've been hoodwinked into higher water rates.
Newberry's question for Gray: Previously you acknowledged Lexington's water supply shortage. Now during campaign season you claim there is no shortage. Why do you suddenly waffle, irresponsibly ignoring decades of research proving Lexington's job growth depends on water supply?
Gray's answer: In 2006 we needed a thoughtful analysis of our water supply and our options, but you blocked it. Now all our water comes from one source — is that responsible or safe? You've taken at least $18,000 from people with ties to the water company for your election. You get campaign cash, KAW gets to increase water rates and profits. Pay to play. Not the way my administration will be run.
Newberry's rebuttal: Get your facts straight, Gray. The proposed review was in 2008, not 2006. When the new plant opens, Lexington will have two sources of water, not one. Answer the question rather than raising false claims.6th District debateThe candidates: U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, D-Versailles, and Republican Andy Barr, a Lexington lawyer. Barr did not participate in the first week of the debate.
Week 1 topic: Coal mining
Herald-Leader question for Chandler: You support "clean coal" research to remove greenhouse gases and other pollutants from coal-fired power plant emissions. Will this make coal an environmentally sustainable energy source, and what interim energy choices should we make?
Chandler's answer: I will fight to strike a balance between defending Kentucky jobs, protecting our air and water, investing in new technologies and mining coal safely. I support preserving coal jobs by finding cleaner fuels, including securing $60 billion for clean coal, and pushing for new projects to use more coal cleanly at power plants. Because mine safety should be a top priority, I will continue to fight to protect our miners.