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Crime could be an early hot button in Lexington's mayoral race

LexTV / David Kloiber for Mayor

Lexington's crime rate is emerging as an early issue in the city's mayoral contest. The contours of the debate are already taking shape as Mayor Linda Gorton defends her record.

Like other cities, Lexington witnessed an uptick in violence during the pandemic — with the yearly homicide rate reaching a new high in 2021. But Gorton frequently points to another statistic.

"Between 2020 and and 2021, our overall rate of violent crime has dropped by four percent," the mayor reporter during a recent press briefing.

And the mayor notes gun-related homicides are down 50% so far this year. She also highlights the introduction of license plate cameras and the expansion of ONE Lexington, which is meant to coordinate anti-violence programs and provide for more youth intervention.

According to the mayor's office, since June of last year, ONE Lexington has "reached out to over 3,000 youthand young adults, facilitated 15 juvenile mediations where violence had occurred, and served 24 families affected by gun violence."

But in a new campaign ad, mayoral candidate and council member David Kloiber says it's not enough.

"We shouldn't have to worry about our families' safety," the narrator says in the ad. "But crime is up and the city is clueless about stopping it."

On Kloiber's campaign site, he says the city and state need to explore new ways to work together with nonprofits to provide programs that extend the school day and give children a "safe place to be" after the school day ends.

The mayoral primary, set for May 17, will see Gorton square off with Kloiber, small business owner and minister Adrian Wallace, and 2018 mayoral candidate William Weyman.

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.