Mayoral Candidates: Take A Breather Before Rebooting City Hall Debate

Sep 21, 2018

With support for an all-purpose government center at Midland Avenue and Main Street crumbling last week, Lexington's mayoral candidates recommend hitting pause on discussions about a new city hall. 

Credit Josh James / WUKY

Despite community momentum and a mayor and vice mayor on board, in the end city leaders could not coalesce around a proposal by local developer CRM to rehome city operations in the current Herald-Leader building. In a surprise turnaround after the failed vote, the Urban County Council set the wheels in motion to reconsider Phoenix Park properties near the downtown Central Library later this month, but both contenders for Lexington's top job have a suggestion: let the dust settle. 

"Everybody who's said publicly to me... they all think (the CRM proposal) would have been a great idea," says former Vice Mayor Linda Gorton. "So I'm hearing a lot of that, but I think the council will kind of take a step back and regroup." 

Former police chief Ronnie Bastin concurs, noting that any decision about a new facility appears certain to land on the shoulders of the next mayor and council.

"I think it's time to reset, look at the process. There were some criticisms of the process," the candidate says, suggesting the council update the approval mechanism to ensure "the highest level of transparency and involvement." 

City leaders remain in general agreement that Lexington government needs a new home, as upkeep costs on the current facilities continue to climb. The council estimates the city has already racked up roughly $22 million in deferred maintenance.