Gorton led council with focus, diplomacy


Today, Vice Mayor Linda Gorton will attend her last Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council meeting as a member of that body.

In her 16 years of service — eight representing the 4th District and eight as an at-large member, including four as vice mayor — Gorton has distinguished herself through civility, hard work and consensus building.

She's maintained an evenhanded, problem-solving approach through times when dissent and acrimony were the hallmarks of council deliberations, while taking on tough, complex issues.

During Gorton's tenure the council has enacted the smoking ban, prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation and provided partner benefits to city employees, tackled Lexington's longstanding stormwater and sanitary-sewer problems, reformed the police and fire pension system, and established an affordable housing fund and an office to address homelessness.

Newspaper archives give an early indication of Gorton's approach. Between her election in November 1998 and the time she was sworn in the following year, she "was a regular at council meetings ... She sat behind the members at the dais, watching the action and asking staff members questions," the Herald-Leader reported.

Although a newcomer to politics and the council, Gorton displayed an independent streak from the beginning.

As a candidate she relied mostly on her own funds. Again from our archives: "She said that accepting money from special interests affects an office-holder's perspective. 'Whether you think you are or not, you are beholden to those folks."'

In her freshman year she was one of only three of the 15 council members who voted against using a $1.5 million surplus to give each member $100,000 to distribute to pet projects.

Her ability to make a point tactfully was evident early on, too. Still in her first term, Gorton pointed out that a 22-member task force had only one woman. "That seems a little unbalanced to me. I'm sure it wasn't intentional, but it's not a good idea."

In typical style, Gorton announced a year in advance that she would not seek re-election, in part so potential candidates would know the lay of the land.

Without doubt her fellow council members will recognize Gorton's remarkable service and thank her for it at today's meeting, as many in the community already have done.

We thank her, too.