Fayette’s first Black county attorney says election shows Lexington is ‘open to change’

·3 min read
Ryan C. Hermens/rhermens@herald-leader.com

After winning the Fayette County Attorney’s race by a large margin — and becoming the first Black person ever elected to that office — Angela Evans says she’s now focused on keeping her campaign promises.

Because there were no Republicans in Tuesday’s primary race between Evans and incumbent Larry Roberts, the win means she won’t have to run in the November general election. She will take office the first Monday in January 2023, Fayette County Clerk Don Blevins Jr. told the Herald-Leader.

To achieve the transparency she promised voters, Evans said she is gathering research from “nationwide contacts,” including other prosecutors, on how the office would produce an annual report that collects data on the outcomes of criminal cases and other operations. The Fayette County Attorney’s office, with about 100 staff members and a $4 million budget, oversees criminal and traffic prosecution and other duties.

The annual report would show the charges that come in the office and how the County Attorney resolves them. It would include the demographics of the people who are allowed to enter diversion programs, including age ranges, economic background, gender and race, Evans said, in an effort to find “direct biases.”

She will start now to assemble a transition team. Roberts, a former Fayette Commonwealth Attorney who was first elected as Fayette County Attorney in 2006, says he will stay until Evans takes office and is offering to help with her transition.

Evans said she appreciates Roberts’ offer and will reach out to him “in due time.” She said she is also identifying former colleagues who can help her in the transition.

Evans said the fact that she is the first Black Fayette County Attorney is “one more barrier, a ceiling, that’s been cracked.”

“It’s one more seat that Black women see as attainable,” she said. “I do think it’s significant. It’s one more example...that Lexington is open to change.”

She said as the first Black Fayette County Attorney, she could “bring a different perspective to all of it. I think it will be really important.”

During the campaign, Roberts was criticized for his handling of cases stemming from racial protests in 2020. He said he was fair and equitable.

Evans said she was cautiously optimistic that she would win, but didn’t expect the margins to be so large.

Unofficial results show that she led Roberts 78.18 % to 28.82%.

“I had a pulse on the voters and what they were wanting,” she said.

Evans said she has begun to identify and prioritize concerns for attorneys and those who have gone through the court system.

She was formerly general counsel and elections administrator in the Kentucky Secretary of State’s office, an Assistant Attorney General prosecuting professional licensees, a public defender and an Urban County Councilwoman.

She said she knows that current staff members have a wealth of knowledge but “I understand that people might not necessarily be on board for the way I want to operate.”

“There might be a shift when we find out things aren’t as efficient as maybe we once thought they were once we get data,” Evans said.

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