Local/Regional News
1:55 am
Wed November 3, 2010

Fayette Countians Show Up At the Polls

Lexington, KY – Vice-Mayor Jim Gray beat incumbent Jim Newberry handily last night in Lexington's mayoral election with 53% of the vote.

Shortly after the race was called at 7 p.m., Gray spoke to supporters who had gathered at Buster's Billiards & Backroom to cheer him on.

"We're at a crossroads. Yes, these times are tough, but the human spirit we know triumphs during times of adversity, and it doesn't fail."

Over at Newberry's headquarters at Heritage Hall, the mood was understandably more somber as the outgoing mayor highlighted several of his accomplishments from the past four years.

"We tackled some of the toughest problems our city has had to deal with. Certainly, the EPA litigation that was waiting when we walked in the door, financial system at the Urban County Government that wouldn't work at all, and you lay on top of that the Great Recession, and at the same time having to get ready for the World Equestrian Games, that was a pretty tall order to fill, and I think we filled it very, very well.

Gray will officially take over the office in the new year.

Linda Gorton narrowly outpolled Chuck Ellinger II and Steve Kay to claim the top spot in the Urban County Council at large race, making her Lexington's next Vice Mayor. Gorton is a registered nurse. Ellinger won his third term as an at-large council member. And the third time was apparently a charm for Kay who fell short in his first two tries for council at large. Those missing the cut were George Brown, Kathy Plomin, and perennial candidate Don Pratt.

New Mayor Jim Gray, and new Vice Mayor Linda Gorton will have some familiar, and new faces among the Urban County Council. Chris Ford will represent the people of the First District. Former 5 term councilman Bill Farmer defeated Cheryl Feigel to regain a seat representing the city's 5th District. KC Crosbie will keep her 7th district seat. Incumbent Doug Martin beat retired firefighter Kevin Williams and write-in candidate Sandy Shafer in the 10th district race. Prior to her resignation for health reasons, Shafer had served on the Urban County Council 13 years. Her comeback bid failed to garner 10 percent of the vote.

The race for Fayette County Judge-Executive was won by a man who has vowed to put himself out of a job. Jon Larson outpolled Sandra Varellas for the post.

Larson said that if elected he planned to support an amendment to the Kentucky Constitution which would do away with the Judge-Executive office in Lexington.

And following his win Tuesday night, Larson gave a speech saying he plans to honor his pledge to abolish the office.

The position has been largely redundant since the city and county governments merged in 1974.

David O'Neill has defeated Jay Whitehead for another term as Fayette County Property Valuation Administrator.

O'Neill entered the office in 2009 after being appointed by Governor Beshear.

O'Neill will be responsible for assessing the market value of buildings for tax purposes and compiling the county's property tax roll.

Incumbent Fifth Division Fayette District Court Judge Megan Lake Thornton easily won re-election by a landslide over newcomer Mike Sanner.
Thornton has been Fifth Division district judge for more than 13 years.
She has been chief judge of the local district court since 2003.

Kim Wilkie has defeated incumbent Maria Ransdell in the race for the Third Division Fayette district judge seat.

The battle between Wilkie and Ransdell was a heated one, with Ransdell's judicial temperament a major issue.

One Fayette County School Board member is heading back to the panel, another has been defeated.

Incumbent Amanda Ferguson retained her District 4 seat, but the second district will now be represented by Douglas Barnett who scored a narrow victory over Thomas Duncan Junior. Kirk Tinsley ran a distant third.

State Education Commissioner Terry Holliday will soon appoint another member to the Fayette board. Former board chair Becky Sagan recently stepped down from her post when she moved out of her district.