Council District 3, which comprises most of downtown Lexington and the University of Kentucky, has drawn the biggest field in this year's Urban County Council races, perhaps a testament to the district's diverse, vibrant constituency.
Two-term incumbent Diane Lawless faces three challengers: Daniel Cooper, Rock Daniels and Stephanie Spires. Unless one candidate garners more than 50 percent of the primary vote, two will face off in the November election.
As a result, we endorse the two who we believe will offer the strongest choice for voters in the fall. Our choices are Lawless and Spires.
Lawless has been a welcome asset to the council in her two terms. The director of Lexington's Rape Crisis Center for many years, she has demostrated an admirable, and necessary, tenacity in dealing with some of the district's more intractable problems, including the impact on neighborhoods of outsized, inadequately maintained student housing owned by absentee landlords, decaying infrastructure, parking and traffic.
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An accountant by training, she raised tough questions as the council addressed both the airport and library scandals and offered a plan to avoid similar oversight breakdowns in the future. She has demonstrated the persistence and willingness to dig into the gritty details of city services that make an effective council member.
Spires, like the other challengers, is in her first race for a public office, although she has been active on a variety of boards in the community and in her neighborhood association. Spires and her husband have been foster parents for a number of children and she serves on the city's Commission on Youth Development and Public Safety. Both have given her a unique and deep insight into services the community does — and does not — offer for children. It would be a welcome expertise on the council.
Cooper is a young man with an unusually deep knowledge of city government from a stint as an intern for a council member and a background in neighborhood advocacy. He has expressed a passion for making Lexington a more attractive place for intelligent and educated young people to pursue their careers.
Despite these qualities, Cooper's campaign seems to be so ad hoc and underfunded (only $200 total raised as of the most recent reporting cycle) that we question whether he can build the following necessary in this crowded field.
Daniels is a real-estate investor and sales person with a varied background that led him to Lexington six years ago. He is a busy and energetic man who is clearly making an effort to become informed on the many issues affecting the third district and Lexington. That said, he does not have the depth of knowledge or experience to gain our endorsement in this talented group.
Both Daniels and Cooper have much to offer Lexington and the district but the stronger choices are Lawless and Spires.