Ellinger, Wu, Brown finish at the top of Lexington at-large council race

·3 min read

The race to become Lexington’s next vice mayor in November will feature several familiar faces.

On Tuesday, four former and current Lexington-Fayette Urban County Councilman advanced to the November general election: James Brown, Chuck Ellinger II, Bill Farmer Jr. and Richard Moloney.

Also moving forward from the field of eight candidates: Dan Wu, a community activist, restaurateur and first-time candidate, and Lillie Miller Johnson, who has previously run for council.

Arnold Farr and Matt Miniard came in seventh and eighth respectively and were eliminated during Tuesday’s May nonpartisan primary.

Ellinger finished first with 18.5% of the vote with Wu finishing second with 18%, according to unofficial results.

Brown was third with 17.2% trailed by Farmer with 16.2%. Moloney received 13.2%, according to unofficial results. Miller Johnson received 7.8%. Farr had 7% and Miniard received 2%, according to unofficial results.

In November, the top vote getter becomes vice mayor, who oversees the 15-member council. The second and third place finishers will serve four years in the at-large position. Current Vice Mayor Steve Kay has served three four-year terms and cannot seek re-election.

Council members make $35,605 a year. The vice mayor makes $38,895 a year for the part-time position.

Moloney, who served seven terms representing the 11th Council District and is in his second term as an at-large council member, was the most prodigious fundraiser, hauling in just north of $80,000, according to Kentucky Registry of Election Finance reports filed May 4.

Later this fall, the city will begin to tackle the 2023 Comprehensive Plan, which will determine how Lexington grows and whether it should move the city’s growth boundary. The last time the urban service boundary was expanded was in 1996, when an additional 5,000 acres was added. Growth will likely be a key issue in the November general election in all council races.

Moloney said it was time the city look at how it wants to grow and hone in on areas that are already ripe for development, including areas near Interstates 75 and 64.

Brown, who has served as the First District Councilman since 2015, agreed. Brown has said it was time the city took steps to identify areas that could be brought into the growth boundary if and when Lexington makes that decision.

Ellinger, who was elected to serve at-large in 2018 and previously served in the same role from 2003 to 2014, and Farmer have said it was time the city look at areas that are ripe for expansion but at minimal cost. Farmer served on the council from 2011 to 2021 and previously served from 1997 to 2006.

“I want responsible growth,” Ellinger previously told the Herald-Leader.

Miller Johnson said Ii the boundary is moved she would need a lot more information. “I need to know what you are going to do with that land if there is an expansion,” she said. “What are you going to be building? What types of homes are going to be built? Are they affordable?”

Wu said the city still needs to do more to encourage infill development before it considers an expansion.The process should be streamlined to make it easier and cost effective for developers to redevelop or build inside the boundary, he said.

Unofficial Results

Chuck Ellinger: 19,021

Dan Wu: 18,568

James Brown: 17,699

Bill Farmer Jr: 16,622

Richard Moloney: 13,699

Lillie Miller Johnson: 8,086

Arnold Farr: 7,137

Matt Miniard: 2,070

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