Mayor-elect Gray names transition team

Emma Tibbs at the Fayette County Neighborhood Council meeting at First Christian Church.  Monday Aug 13, 2001
Emma Tibbs at the Fayette County Neighborhood Council meeting at First Christian Church. Monday Aug 13, 2001 LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER

Lexington Mayor-elect Jim Gray announced Tuesday the process he will use for his transition into office, and he named leaders of a team that will help make it happen.

Some familiar faces are in the group, including former Mayor Teresa Isaac; Bob Drakeford, who was economic development director under Mayor Pam Miller; and Emma Tibbs, founder of the Fayette County Neighborhood Council, whom Gray said many call "the unelected mayor of Lexington."

There also are newcomers, including Ben Self, founder of Blue State Digital, a political/Internet consulting firm with clients around the globe; and Alan Hawse, vice president of information technology for the California-based Cypress Semiconductor.

Only one of the leaders, University of Kentucky business professor Merl Hackbart, was on the transition committee that Mayor Jim Newberry appointed to guide his transition into office four years ago.

All members of the Urban County Council have been invited to participate as non-voting members of the transition team subgroup of their choosing, Gray said.

Linda Gorton, an at-large councilwoman who will become vice mayor in January, will work on the public safety portion of the transition. Gray described her as "more than an inspiration to me and others" in the four years that he has been vice mayor.

Gray, a business executive, defeated Newberry, an attorney, on Nov. 2.

"The transition approach actually has two broad themes," Gray said in a news conference in the lobby of the Urban County Government Building. "One is building a better government — think of that as making the trains run on time. The second broad theme is about building a great city. That's about creating spirit, imagination, sense of purpose and opportunities."

Chris Frost, a UK law professor, will chair the transition team, which eventually will be made up of 40 or 50 people.

Gray declined to say whether any of the transition team leaders would be candidates for jobs in his administration.

"We're not examining that today," he said.

Gray also laid out a schedule for the team's work.

■ Questionnaires were sent to city commissioners and directors Tuesday and will be returned by Dec. 3.

■ The team chairs will meet Tuesday, and other team members will be announced.

■ From Dec. 13 to 24, the teams will meet and draft reports.

■ On Dec. 31, the "Building a Better Government" reports are due.

■ On Jan. 2, Gray and the Urban County Council will be inaugurated.

■ On Jan. 15, the "Building a Great City" reports are due.

After the news conference, Gorton said she was glad to hear the transition team members' names and qualifications as Gray announced them.

"It's obvious the mayor-elect has given a lot of thought to who serves on these positions," she said.At-large Councilman Chuck Ellinger II said that for the most part government is working well, but a change in administrations provides an opportunity to "look and see what we're doing right, what we're doing wrong, and make some changes."

In response to a question, Gray said he didn't expect the transition team to recommend sweeping changes.

"We have some tough times still before us," he said. "To the extent that we can make changes that will ... contribute to operating more efficiently, then we should."

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