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Linda Gorton- 2018 Candidate Questionnaire

Running for: Mayor

Short Bio:

Linda Gorton served as Vice Mayor of Lexington from 2011-2015, and served a total of 16 years as an elected member of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from the University of Kentucky and her career as a Registered Nurse spanned 43 years. She worked in hospital, public health, private practice and mental health settings. She was part of a volunteer team of physicians & nurses who gave physical exams to babies airlifted out of Vietnam in 1974 (“Operation Baby Lift”).

Vice Mayor Gorton led all Council budget deliberations for the entire city budget. She led efforts to build Lexington’s dog parks, was a leader in the effort to pass Lexington’s indoor smoking ordinance, & led the new Senior Services Commission as its first chair.

Current Civic Work includes the following board service:
America in Bloom Lexington; Carnegie Center for Literacy & Learning (Vice Chair); The Arboretum, State Botanical Garden (Co-Chair); University of Kentucky (UK) College of Nursing Dean’s Advisory Board; UK Martin School of Public Policy & Administration; Lexington Philharmonic; UK BREATHE (Bridging Research Efforts & Advocacy Toward Healthy Environments) (Chair); UK Women & Philanthropy; Friends of the Dog Park (Co-Founder).

Recent Recognitions:
2015 UK – Algernon Sidney Sullivan Award for community service
2014 LexArts – Community Partner Award
2014 Fayette County Neighborhood Council – Neighborhood Hero Award
2014 Fayette Alliance – Community Advocacy Award
2010 UK College of Nursing – One of Fifty Outstanding Alumni Award
2008 Baptist Health – Women’s Community Leadership Award

1. Do you support prioritizing infill/redevelopment as Lexington’s primary growth strategy? Under what circumstances would you support expansion of the Urban Services Boundary or Rural Activity Centers?

Efficient and strategic use of land inside the Urban Services Boundary is sustainable and fiscally responsible. I support Infill/Redevelopment as our primary long-range growth strategy.

Comprehensive Plan: The recently adopted Goals of the 2018 Comprehensive Plan recommend no expansion of the USB and continued focus on infill/redevelopment. I strongly support this decision.

Balance: The USB has ensured a balanced approach to growth that has helped us largely avoid the negative and expensive consequences of sprawl development. The USB has enabled our city to become increasingly more vibrant, while ensuring our signature agricultural industries thrive. I am committed to continuing to focus right now on development/redevelopment inside the USB to maintain our signature, productive landscape and increase the vitality of our city.

Momentum: We must continue the extraordinary momentum our city is experiencing downtown and bring that energy to other parts of our city as well. By focusing energy inside the USB, we have enabled our city and our agricultural industries to grow and thrive. I will keep our community moving forward.   

Intentionality: Sustainable growth means intentional growth. Citizens must have access to information and opportunities for input. Infill/redevelopment projects should enhance our community and be done in a transparent and inclusive way. Access to green spaces and better infrastructure for walking and biking must be prioritized in development projects.

2. What specific recommendations do you have to protect the character and context of existing neighborhoods while diversifying our housing stock to meet the needs of our community?

Lexington’s neighborhoods are the foundation of our city.  I am committed to supporting policies to ensure all our neighborhoods succeed

Transparency and Inclusivity: Neighbors must be involved early in the development process and have easy access to information. I will create more inclusive processes and make it easier to access information. Using existing resources, I will create a Neighborhood Liaison to facilitate involvement and information sharing.

Intentionality: I will support collaborative efforts to create a comprehensive growth plan to identify infill/redevelopment areas; provide protections to our neighborhoods and historic/cultural assets; enhance access to green space, parks and trails; increase our tree canopy; and, protect our streams and environment. As neighborhoods transform, we must ensure vulnerable residents and neighborhoods are protected from the negative impacts of gentrification.

Context-sensitivity: I will work to create processes to ensure development/redevelopment is sensitive to the character and scale of existing neighborhoods.

Incentivize and Streamline: I will prioritize modernizing and streamlining our ordinances and processes to make it easier for quality infill/redevelopment projects to be undertaken. I support funding the Public Infrastructure Program to help defray the costs associated with constructing public infrastructure like sidewalks and sewers.

Housing: A recent study concluded that Lexington needs to increase the diversity of housing types to meet the evolving needs of our community.  A diverse housing stock increases affordability and provides a variety of options to our citizens, including to our seniors, young professionals and low-income citizens. I support policies that will increase diversity, while protecting existing neighborhoods.

3. What specific recommendations do you have to address Lexington’s affordable housing issue?

A recent housing study made clear that our most pressing housing needs are for low-income citizens, seniors and young professionals. I will create a comprehensive housing policy to meet the diverse housing needs of all our citizens.

Diversity: The housing study emphasized the need to increase the diversity of housing types. Healthy communities have a range of housing options—single family, condos, duplexes, apartments, etc.  Housing diversity increases affordability and provides options for people across the life span and income levels. I support policies to increase housing diversity, while also protecting the character and context of existing neighborhoods.

Accessibility: Our demographics make clear that we must create new housing inside the city limits. A growing senior population, young professionals and low-income citizens need accessible and affordable housing that is connected to amenities, necessities and transportation.

Affordable Housing: Communities around the nation are struggling to meet the demand for affordable housing. Lexington is making strides through the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, but we must accelerate the construction of affordable homes, particularly with an aging population. I am committed to exploring options to increase the pace of construction as well as the annual allocation to the Fund.

Gentrification: As neighborhoods transform and redevelop, we must ensure vulnerable residents and neighborhoods are protected from the negative impacts of gentrification. I will develop policies to address this issue, including policies to help people stay in their homes.

4. The number of households headed by someone aged 65 or older is projected to increase significantly over the next decade and beyond. What specific recommendations do you have to meet the needs of our growing senior population?

Addressing the needs of our aging population will be a primary focus of my administration. I will ensure our community grows in a way that is inclusive and livable for our citizens throughout their life span.

Housing: Over half of the demand for new housing over the next decade will be for people 65 and older. A wider array of housing types can offer safer, more affordable, lower-maintenance homes within existing communities so our seniors maintain independence and remain engaged in the community.

Aging-in-Place: Aging-in-Place increases the need for in-home support, services and care. I will work with the Senior Services Commission to create the strategies and support systems to help seniors maintain independence. I will also explore creating Senior Center satellite or outreach facilities to help seniors access information and the many great services and programs offered at the Center.

Transportation: Transportation options help seniors remain independent, mobile and engaged in the community.  I will prioritize creating safe and accessible multi-modal transportation infrastructure, such as bicycle lanes, trails, pedestrian walkways and crosswalks and public transit stops. I will work with LexTran, the Senior Services Commission and other stakeholders to address the unique transportation needs of seniors at all income levels.

Work and community engagement: Our seniors have a wealth of knowledge, expertise and skill to share. I will work with businesses and community organizations to create pathways for seniors to obtain employment or volunteer opportunities.

5. Do you support an annual funding allocation for Lexington’s Purchase of Development Rights Program (PDR)? Please list your specific ideas to support the continued strength and growth of our agricultural and tourism industries. 

Yes, I support an annual funding allocation to the Purchase of Development Rights Program. I supported creation of the PDR program in 2000 and funding every year I was on council. Our Bluegrass Landscape and farms are central to our economic health and quality of life. I am committed to achieving the goals of the PDR program.

Agriculture is economic development: Fayette County agriculture is an annual $2.3 billion industry that supports 1 in 12 jobs. We must leverage our signature agriculture industries and prime soils to become the global hub of high-tech ag innovation. I will work with state, regional and local partners to create the necessary environment to grow these industries and ensure continued growth of our entire agricultural economy.

Travel and tourism:  Lexington’s travel and tourism industry is exploding. Our farms, landscape and natural areas set us apart from other communities. We have something so special here, and I will work with VisitLex and other local, regional and state-wide stakeholders to showcase Lexington as a true travel destination.

Local food, bourbon and breweries: Our farms support a growing local food, bourbon and craft brewery movement. These local businesses help create a dynamic city for visitors and locals alike while showing agriculture. We must create the necessary infrastructure to support these growing businesses.

6. Citizens have noted frustration with traffic congestion. What are your specific ideas to address traffic congestion? 

To address traffic issues, I will work with local, regional and state transportation professionals and employers to implement short and long-term strategies to address traffic congestion. I will also engage with other cities who have successfully managed traffic concerns similar to ours

Technology: Cities are using technology such as smart traffic signals and real-time communications platforms to ease congestion and help with traffic flow. We must explore these technologies to find the best options for our community.

Employee options: I will engage with employers, particularly our largest employers, to explore ways of reducing the numbers of vehicles on the road at peak times, such as flex-time, telecommuting and incentivizing employees to carpool or to use non-vehicular or mass transit.

Transit-oriented development: We must adopt long-range planning policies to encourage transit-oriented development (TOD), which is a key component to creating a vibrant, livable and sustainable community for citizens of all ages and socio-economic levels. Our long-range planning should prioritize creating safe and accessible multi-modal transportation infrastructure such as bicycle lanes, trails, pedestrian walkways and crosswalks and public transit stops. We must also improve the safety and accessibility of existing infrastructure.

7. The 2018 Comprehensive Plan for Lexington includes a goal to create “a new process for determining long-term land use decisions” involving the Urban Services Boundary and Rural Activity Centers. If you support the creation of this new process, what are some of the elements that should be included? 

Lexington was the first community in the nation to create an Urban Services Boundary. It helps us grow intelligently while preserving our signature farmland and agricultural industries. The USB encourages fiscally responsible growth, using existing infrastructure and community services. The benefits are clear.  However, as our community grows, so do our challenges. I support creation of a new process to ensure we continue to grow sustainably and maintain the critical balance between our city and our farmland.

Leadership:  Creation of this new process will impact our community for generations to come. It will require focused leadership to ensure it does not devolve into a protracted battle over expansion. I have successfully led Lexington through some of our most difficult decisions, such as implementation of the EPA Consent Decree. I will ensure this process prioritizes sustainable, intelligent growth.

Intelligent growth: I support creation of an objective, data-driven and systematized process that continues to prioritize responsible infill/redevelopment as our primary growth strategy. We need to better measure our land use to determine if we are growing in an efficient and equitable way.

Prime soils: 90% of Lexington’s rural area is comprised of prime soils. These soils are our most precious natural resource and key to our economic development and quality of life. Our long-range planning must focus on protection of our farmland and natural areas, balanced with a vibrant city inside the USB.

Transparency: Citizens must have meaningful opportunities to participate in creation of a new process and easy access to information.

8. What is the biggest challenge facing Lexington? What are your specific recommendations to address that challenge?

I believe Lexington faces three main challenges at this time: the opioid epidemic; workforce development; and long-range sustainable growth.

Opioid crisis: Like many other communities, Lexington is in the grips of an opioid epidemic. There are many organizations and citizens doing great work to address this crisis, but our city must lead this effort by bringing stakeholders together to work collaboratively and effectively. I have outlined a multi-faceted plan to fight this epidemic compassionately and to make our community safer and healthier.

Workforce development: A ready and able workforce is central to our community’s economic health and well-being. My plan puts people first and focuses on creating a 21st century work force and attracting 21st century jobs.

Sustainable growth: Intelligent growth sets the stage for community development. We must continue to grow in a sustainable and intentional way that enhances neighborhoods, increases quality of life, promotes responsible infill/redevelopment and ensures the future viability of our farmland and natural areas.

 

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