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Lexington mayor at odds with police over pension bill

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray

By Jack Brammer –

FRANKFORT — Lexington Mayor Jim Gray faces a showdown with Lexington police — key backers of his campaign to oust former Mayor Jim Newberry — over a costly proposal to sweeten their pension benefits.

The state legislature is considering a bill that would require the city to pay full health coverage for spouses and dependent children of retired Lexington police officers and firefighters.

The change would cost the city an estimated $2 million to $3 million a year, although the legislature has not yet done an actuarial evaluation of the bill to determine its cost, said Geoff Reed, a senior advisor to Gray.

“If it should become law, that would mean significant cuts in our budget,” Reed said. “That could mean such things as fewer police officers and firefighters. We do not want that.”

Lexington, Louisville mayors present united front to legislators

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray

FRANKFORT – The new mayors of Kentucky’s two largest cities – Greg Fischer of Louisville and Jim Gray of Lexington — told state lawmakers Wednesday that they want to work with the legislature to create jobs.

Fischer and Gray, who took office in January, appeared together before the House Local Government Committee.

Fischer said he hopes the I-64 corridor between Lexington and Louisville and the I-65 corridor between Louisville and Elizabethtown will become “an economic cluster” and “a job generator” similar to North Carolina’s Research Triangle involving the cities of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill.

Gray said he looks forward to working with Louisville and Northern Kentucky, but “not at the expense of the rural area” of the state.

Video: Speeches in U.S. Senate, 6th Congressional District and Lexington mayor races

U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, D-Versailles

Republican Andy Barr

U.S. Senator-elect Rand Paul, R-Bowling Green

Democrat Jack Conway

Lexington Mayor-elect Jim Gray

Outgoing Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry

Gray and Newberry look for lunchtime votes

Vice Mayor Jim Gray, left, and Mayor Jim Newberry

By Andy Mead –

If you were undecided on Monday about who to vote for in the Lexington mayor’s race, Meadowthorpe Cafe would have been a good place to have lunch.

Both Vice Mayor Jim Gray and Mayor Jim Newberry ate and campaigned at the Leestown Road restaurant as part of their last busy day of trying to pick up votes.

Newberry had the meat loaf with green beans. Gray had bean soup and corn bread. Their paths didn’t cross.

The inexpensive lunches provided a contrast to what has been the most expensive local race in the city’s history — and one of the most hotly contested.

Campaign Watchdog: Was that attack ad true or false?

Since August, the Lexington Herald-Leader has checked the accuracy of more than two dozen claims made by candidates or their surrogates in Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race, the 6th Congressional District race and the Lexington mayor’s race. Here’s a recap of what we found.

6th Congressional District: Ben Chandler vs. Andy Barr

U.S. Senate: Jack Conway vs. Rand Paul

Voters’ Guide: Where candidates stand on the issues

Election Day is Tuesday. It’s time to pay attention and pick a candidate.

To help, we’ve quizzed the candidates on the most important issues of the day. You’ll find their answers of 45 words or less by clicking on the links below.

U.S. Senate (PDF)

6th District U.S. House (PDF)

Lexington mayor (PDF)

State Senate (PDF)

State House (PDF)

Urban County Council (PDF)

Urban Council Districts (PDF)

On Tuesday, polls are open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. local time. Anyone in line by 6 p.m. may vote.

To find out whether you are registered to vote, where you vote and which races you may vote in, visit the Voter Information Center at the State Board of Elections’ Web site,

The link below also contains a listing of candidates for every state office on the ballot in Kentucky. And if you live in Fayette, Bourbon, Clark, Madison, Jessamine, Woodford, Scott or Franklin County, you’ll find a complete listing of candidates seeking local offices.

On the ballot: a listing of candidates in state, federal and local races

Campaign Watchdog: Gray’s claim about water rate increase ‘mostly false’

By Andy Mead –

The claim: “Newberry … supported building the water plant that’s making you pay 60 percent more for your water bill. ”

Lexington Vice Mayor Jim Gray in a radio ad about Mayor Jim Newberry

The ruling: Mostly false

The facts: Kentucky American Water’s new treatment plant is not responsible for a 60 percent increase in water rates.

When the company was granted an 18 percent rate increase last year, only about a fourth of that amount — 87 cents of the $3.90 average monthly increase for residential customers — went to pay for its new treatment plant, according to testimony filed with the Public Service Commission.

The water company also implemented a 37 percent rate increase late last month. About 90 percent of that amount would go toward the plant, the company says. The Public Service Commission is expected to rule soon that the company’s rate is too high and that it must give part of that money back.

As we’ve previously stated, it’s true that Newberry supported Kentucky American Water’s plan to build a new water treatment plant, which was completed last month. Gray wanted to hire a consultant to study a competing proposal from the Louisville Water Co.

Gray out-raises Newberry during October in Lexington mayor’s race

Vice Mayor Jim Gray, left, and Mayor Jim Newberry

By Andy Mead –

Vice Mayor Jim Gray out-raised Mayor Jim Newberry by $138,405 in the latest campaign finance reporting period, but $100,000 of Gray’s total came in a loan he made to his own campaign.

Gray raised $200,959 for his mayoral bid from Oct. 2 to Oct. 18. He received $98,600 from individual contributors and $2,300 from political action committees.

Mayor Jim Newberry raised $62,554 in the same period, including $1,000 from PACs and the rest from individuals.

The campaign finance reports, filed Monday with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance, are the last before the Nov. 2 election.

In all, Gray has raised about $1.2 million in the campaign. About a third of that, or $380,000, is in loans from the candidate.

Newberry has raised $1,050,000. He has loaned his campaign no money. His wife Cheryl Ann, a homemaker, has contributed $2,000.

The reports show that, as of Oct. 18, Gray had $77,000 on hand. Newberry had $83,000.

Campaign Watchdog: Gray’s claims about South Limestone project ‘false’


By Andy Mead –

The statement: “South Limestone. When the city needed to repave this road, the mayor turned to one of his political contributors, and we ended up paying $16 million. That’s $5 million more than the original estimate to the high bidder. That’s $7,000 a foot.”

Lexington Vice Mayor Jim Gray, in a television ad criticizing Mayor Jim Newberry

The ruling: False

The facts: This ad shows Gray walking along the new South Limestone Street past bright yellow signs that count $7,000 each foot. At one point, the words “No bid contracts” appear on the screen.

The fundamental premise of the ad — the city spent $7,000 a foot to “repave this road” — is false. What happened on South Lime went far beyond paving. Sanitary and storm sewers were replaced. Electric, telephone and cable lines were buried. The street and sidewalks were completely removed and rebuilt, with rain gardens.

Also, Newberry didn’t turn to contributors, as the ad alleges, to do the job. It was competitively bid.

Kentucky Poll: Lexington mayor’s race too close to call

Coming up Friday: In the newspaper, find out what Lexington voters think about the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. At 6 p.m., see poll results on the 6th Congressional District race.

PDF: Detailed poll results

By Andy Mead –

Vice Mayor Jim Gray appears to have a slim advantage over incumbent Mayor Jim Newberry in the race for Lexington’s top job, a new Kentucky Poll shows.

It is the first time an independent poll has shown the challenger out front in the non-partisan contest, although Gray’s four-point lead is within the poll’s margin of error.

Among likely voters, Gray leads Newberry 44 percent to 40 percent, with 16 percent undecided. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Gray trailed Newberry in the May primary, getting 37.5 percent of the vote to Newberry’s 43.7 percent. Former Mayor Teresa Isaac, who received 16.6 percent in the primary and didn’t move forward to the general election, endorsed Gray two days before the poll began.

The live telephone survey of 500 likely Fayette County voters was conducted from Oct. 15 through Oct. 19 by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research of Washington D.C. It was commissioned by the Lexington Herald-Leader and WKYT-TV.