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Mayor Outlines Anti-Violence Efforts In State Of The City Address

Josh James

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray is enlisting citizens help in the effort to curb gun violence, which has taken the lives of two high school students in the last three months. The mayor made the comments during his annual State of the City address.

In his speech, Gray described Lexington as a city “on the move” – highlighting progress on the Town Branch Project, ongoing efforts to bring faster internet service to Lexington, and the city’s five-point unemployment rate drop since 2011.

But on the issue of gun and drug violence, the mayor suggested a culture change is in order.

"Addressing these concerns calls for something more than a police response. As a community, we must respond, especially on behalf of our young people," Gray said, later adding, "We are facing the fact that too many of our young people are growing up with too little hope, too little family support, and too little faith in their own futures."

Gray pledged greater investment in youth programs and touted a new “city mentor” initiative aimed at connecting youth with city employees and others, as well as a new private foundation to provide more funding for police equipment, community involvement, and outreach.

The mayor also made brief mention of recent Women’s March in downtown Lexington, saying people of all points of view are asking “honest and legitimate” questions about the direction of the country.

"The police were only expecting maybe 300 people and it was north of 5,000," Gray told WUKY after the speech. "So that shows that around the country... there's a division."

Without naming President Trump, Gray said it’s up to leadership to reach out and heal the wounds that are often created in a campaign.

Asked if he’s anticipating cuts in federal funding for city projects under the new administration, the mayor said the city is taking a wait and see approach. He noted that federal dollars are often spread out over multiple years and he anticipates the funding mechanisms the city relies upon will still be in place.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.