UPDATE: Mayoral candidate forum gets heated, sensitive topics debated

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Some of the hot topics include gun violence, the opioid use crisis and affordable housing
Candidate

UPDATE SEPTEMBER 14, 2022

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – A heated exchange between Lexington’s mayoral candidates Wednesday night at a forum at the Lyric Theater, taking jabs at each other’s experience and platforms. Many hot-button topics were debated from the rise in gun violence to the opioid use epidemic to the lack of affordable housing in the city.

“Everything we’re talking about here [Wednesday night] is connected,” says mayoral candidate David Kloiber.

A forefront on many people’s minds is Lexington’s gun violence and homicide rates, city leaders trying to come up with a plan to prevent and stop the dangerous trend the city is seeing. Kloiber focusing heavily on the GVI program he hopes to bring to Lexington, saying a vetted and peer-reviewed program used nationwide is what Lexington needs. Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton arguing a local problem needs a local solution, referencing the many partnerships she’s established like ONE Lexington and a trauma-care training program with U.K hospital’s emergency room.

“We don’t need a brand new plan for Lexington because people are getting shot and people are dying while we work our way through it,” says Kloiber.

“We have those kinds of systems in place that are beginning to show a difference in our youth. The youth are the future,” says Gorton.

Beyond needing resources to address gun violence, each candidate was asked how they planned to help in the opioid use crisis.

“The people who need this help, they’re not the ones who are able to come out and meet us halfway. We have to go to meet them and that’s why the programs that I’m putting out there to bring here, that the community has brought to me, that experts have vetted are all about bringing us together,” says Kloiber.

“Another thing that I did right away was to ramp up our Community Paramedicine program, some of you may be familiar with that. The Community Paramedicine program goes straight to people who are in need, who may not have a 911 emergency but they do have some sort of an issue,” says Gorton.

On the topic of affordable housing, Gorton says she’s created over 3,000 affordable housing units, allotted $2 million of her budget to it and fought for $10 million of the ARPA fund to be used for affordable housing. Kloiber saying over 50% of the people in Lexington, not being able to afford living here.

“If I am elected mayor in November, in one year’s time I will look to put something as a referendum on the ballot, asking the community what they’re willing to step up and do in order to create a dedicated funding source for affordable housing,” says Kloiber. “Because those are things we can do, and not just more of the same.”

“The council, the mayor, we have no way to regulate rent, we don’t have that as an available option. But we do have ways to help people get into housing,” says Gorton. “I developed, and I’m the first mayor ever to have, a department of housing advocacy.”

Another topic up for debate includes the access to grocery stores and gas stations for many impoverished areas of Lexington. Gorton details a mobile food truck in the works that would drive fresh, healthy food directly into areas without access. Kloiber saying the focus needs to be on land use and incentivising neighborhoods to be built around these stores.

The candidates speak about how they plan to address the Dobbs decision overturning Roe vs. Wade. Kloiber says should he be elected mayor, he would aim to improve healthcare options allowing for funding for out-of-state travel for medical procedures and instructing police not to enforce laws pertaining to medical malpractice surrounding abortions and medical marijuana. Gorton saying as a registered nurse for many years she believes in the sanctity of privacy between a woman and her doctor, but rebutts Kloiber’s policing statement saying mayors don’t have the power to pick and choose which laws they choose to follow.

Gorton also references her experience as a nurse when discussing pandemic fatigue and how she plans to handle monkeypox. She says monkeypox is something to keep an eye on but her ‘LexDoThis’ campaign during COVID was nationally recognized, so she’s confident in the ability to handle a public health crisis. Kloiber says most of the things that went well during COVID were because of  Governor Andy Beshear, adding his plan would be to ensure people’s ability to live a healthy life isn’t determined by their employer.

The forum wraps with a question to the candidates about how they will remedy the oversight of black women in the community. Gorton says two of the biggest issues she sees surround childcare and healthcare access, saying she wants to work on mentorship programs for children to take strain off of single moms. Kloiber says many community programs are in already in place for black women and he wants to give them more money so they can continue doing their work.

ORIGINAL STORY

LEXINGTON, Ky (WTVQ)- We are less than two months away from an important election, and in Lexington, voters will head to the polls to make their voices heard on several local races..
That includes mayor and city council.

Tonight, those candidates have a chance to sway voters when they face off in a candidate forum at a political forum at the Lyric Theatre.

As we’ve reported, there’s been an increase in crime in recent weeks , most notably gun violence in the city.
That is a hot topic for both mayoral candidates right now. Political analyst Tres Watson says it’s not just an issue in Lexington, but across the country.

“I think it’s an important race for the city. We’re obviously in a time of transition. There’s a lot of money coming in through COVID funds and there’s also a lot going on with crime in this city. But at the same time, when you drive around the city and talk to people, there’s very little recognition that there’s a mayor’s race going on,” said Watson.

Among the expected topics- gun violence and crime. Lexington has 33 homicides so far this year, nearing last year’s total of 37. And its only September.
Watson says in terms of an impact on the mayoral race, the topic of crime and gun violence are negligible, given incumbent mayor Linda Gorton’s large primary win.

“I think that while people’s attention are on it, again this mayor won the primary with 71%. And I think we’re going to see a conversation about what the next step forward is,” said Watson.

Watson says one important point is that mayoral candidate David Kloiber is forcing discussion of those topics because they’re important conversations for the city going forward. But Watson says Kloiber has a mountain to climb if he hopes to oust Gorton.

“When you look, he was below 15% in the primary. That’s a hard difference to make up. And remember in an election, especially when you’re talking about knocking off an incumbent, your job as a challenger is to convince voters who 4 years ago made one decision that they made a mistake and they need to change direction. I just don’t see a huge ground swell of people who believe they made a mistake in electing Linda Gorton,” said Watson.

The candidate’s forum at the Lyric Theatre is expected to last from 6-9 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public and will be divided into mayoral and council-at-large sections.





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