Linda Gorton- 2018 Primary Candidate Questionnaire
Running for: Mayor of Lexington
View Candidate Web Page: https://lindagorton.com/
1. What is the biggest challenge and opportunity facing the city of Lexington and your district (if applicable)?
I believe there are three major issues facing our community at this time. First, is the opioid epidemic and related issue of public safety. I have outlined a multi-faceted plan to fight the opioid epidemic in a compassionate and effective way and to make our community safer. Second, work force development is central to our community’s economic health and the well-being of our citizens. I have outlined an economic development strategy that puts people first and focuses on creating a 21st century work force and attracting 21st century jobs. Third, managed growth sets the stage for community development. We must continue to grow in a smart, intentional way that enhances neighborhoods, increases quality of life, promotes appropriate infill and redevelopment, and balances the protection of our natural and agricultural land with the needs of our growing city.
2. The newly adopted Goals and Objectives of the 2018 Comprehensive Plan prioritize infill/redevelopment as a primary strategy to accommodate our growth needs. In fact, studies indicate there are many infill/redevelopment opportunities throughout the city. What specific recommendations do you have to protect the character and context of existing neighborhoods while pursuing this needed strategy? Would you support a program that provides incentives for infill/redevelopment projects within the Urban Services Area? If so, what specific types of incentives.
I am a strong supporter of infill/redevelopment opportunities and efforts. Efficient and strategic use of the land inside the Urban Service Boundary is smart and fiscally responsible. Infill/redevelopment must be done in an intentional way that enhances existing neighborhoods. As we move forward with more infill & redevelopment opportunities, we must be sure to include the neighborhoods in the discussions….they are frequently the people most impacted. I would explore parking incentives and opportunities, as well as streamlined processes for builders and developers who want to pursue infill/redevelopment. I would also support funding of the Public Infrastructure Program created in 2017 to help defray the costs associated with providing infrastructure such as sanitary sewers, public roads, and sidewalks. With the proper administration, this Fund could help provide needed improvements to public infrastructure in our community.
3. Land use planning and economic development go hand-in-hand. What are the main economic pillars in Lexington and what specific planning policies support their growth? What specific policies do you support to ensure we create 21st jobs that maximize our unique assets?
Lexington-Fayette County is a unique place on our earth. Thanks to the foresight of early planners and leaders, we established the first Urban Service Boundary in the United States in 1958, allowing us to plan growth inside the boundary and allowing our agricultural area to thrive. Our main economic pillars are predicated on strong agriculture, health care, equine industry, higher education, a growing high-tech sector, as well as thriving small businesses and entrepreneurs. I have outlined an economic development plan comprised of the following strategies: (1) Put People First—align skills and education of workforce with needs of employers. Create strategic collaborations between city hall, regional and state partners, educational institutions, workforce agencies, economic development entities, and employers to plan strategies & create opportunities for all citizens. Create comprehensive strategy to address labor gaps, retraining, reentry programs; (2) Embrace Innovation—leverage our strengths to create a healthy environment for high-value, knowledge-based jobs; (3) Harness our Unique Brand— Our beautiful Bluegrass land is an asset we must use to focus on the opportunity for tourism and enhancing our quality of life. We also have great opportunities to attract global agricultural industries.
4. Why are you the best candidate for the position you seek?
I have the broadest leadership experiences of any of the candidates running for mayor. My leadership as Vice Mayor and Council Member (16 years) established my reputation for honest, inclusive, and transparent public service to the community. Partly due to my skills as a Registered Nurse, I am comfortable and competent working with people and making connections beyond the usual paths. I am not afraid of controversy and make decisions based on facts, input from stakeholders, as well as what is in the best interests of the community. My experience includes extensive budget work, including an understanding of the city budget. As Vice Mayor, I chaired all Council budget meetings after the mayor presented the budget to the Council. My entire adult life I have led civic organizations, using my skills to serve as chair of numerous school-related, UK-related, arts-related, social service-related and other boards. Plus, I am a mother and grandmother, who, along with my husband, has raised children here, so I am heavily invested in Lexington, which I love!
5. Like the rest of the nation, Lexington’s population is aging. In the next decade and beyond, a majority of households will be headed by someone 65 or older for the first time in our history. Our aging demographic has significant implications for housing and neighborhood design. What specific recommendations do you have to ensure we provide safe, accessible, affordable housing to our seniors in ways that ensure they maintain independence and social connections as they age?
I chaired the Senior Services Commission and this is a great concern that we “get it right” in Lexington to make our city a place that is safe for and welcomes the over – 65 crowd. Considering policies that are pedestrian and bus transportation-friendly, as well as accessory dwelling unit considerations are all areas of important policy. We must consider what affordable housing incentives are successful in other communities. Consider establishing more Senior Citizen Center satellite facilities.
6. Fayette County agriculture is an annual $2.3 billion industry that supports one in twelve jobs in Lexington. Fayette County farmland is the factory-floor of this industry, which also anchors a burgeoning travel and tourism industry. To ensure continued viability of our agricultural industries, do you support an annual funding allocation to the Purchase of Development Rights Program? Why or why not. What other specific policies do you support to ensure the continued strength and growth of our agriculture industries?
Yes, I support annual funding for the PDR program. I served on the Council when we passed the PDR ordinance in 2000 and understand its purpose and goals. I also am aware of the fact that the program is all about the land and being certain that our community has land, in perpetuity, for food and for other potential agricultural needs in the future. We must be proactive in seeking advanced agri-business, as well as growing our agricultural and equine clusters. I also served on the Council and voted in 1999 to support our Rural Land Management Plan, giving us the framework for planning and using our land going forward.