In a landslide, Gorton finishes first in mayoral primary. Kloiber takes second.
Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton will face first-term Lexington councilman David Kloiber in the November general election.
Gorton, a former vice mayor who served 16 years on the Lexington council prior to being elected to the city’s top job, received 71% of the vote, according to unofficial results.
Kloiber trailed with 14%. Adrian Wallace, who runs a community development corporation, finished third with 13% of the vote.
William Weyman, who has previously run for mayor but ran a limited campaign, finished last with 1.8%.
“I’m really grateful to everyone who voted for me and I want to thank them,” Gorton said at at campaign event at Crank and Boom in Lexington’s Distillery District. “It’s an honor to serve. Tomorrow I will go back to work as the mayor. I look forward to campaigning this summer and fall.”
When asked about her relationship with Kloiber, who serves on the council, Gorton responded, “It will be respectful.”
Kloiber said he was thankful for the support he received.
“It’s a build-up of many, many months of work in order to get here. It is a good feeling, but it’s also a feeling that there’s a lot more that needs to be done,” Kloiber said.
Kloiber said he will work hard in coming months.
“The biggest thing has always been name recognition, just to show people that there’s an alternative. Now, it’s all about reaching out, making those connections, and letting people know what it would mean to vote for somebody else.”
Asked whether she plans to alter her campaign strategy this fall, Gorton said she plans to stick with the method that has served her well for more than 19 years in politics.
“I’ve always had a grassroots campaign. We go straight to the people. It’s a good, solid proven way to campaign. It’ll be my intent to continue that,” Gorton said.
Gorton, 73, advanced despite being outspent by Kloiber, who runs the Kloiber Foundation, his family’s nonprofit that focuses on education and technology. Kloiber, 39, raised $308,740, thanks largely to $275,000 in personal loans to his campaign, according to the latest campaign reports filed with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance. The bulk of that cash went to television advertisements that attacked Gorton’s and the city’s response to violent crime. Kloiber was first elected to office in 2020.
Gorton raised $164,572, according to campaign reports.
Wallace, 36, trailed far behind Gorton and Kloiber, raising $6,900, campaign finance reports show.
Wallace remained in good spirits Tuesday despite coming in third.
“I’m excited about the future regardless,” Wallace said at a celebration at Elixir in downtown Lexington. “We’re going to celebrate the work we’ve put in. We’re going to celebrate the movement that we have started. We’re going to celebrate the passion for civic engagement that these young people that I have come across over the last five months. We’re going to keep working to make sure that we transform our city.”
Wallace said he would work with Kloiber in the fall campaign.
Gorton, a registered nurse, has served as Lexington’s top elected official during a tumultuous three and a half years in the city’s history — a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic followed by a steep drop in city revenues, social unrest that sparked weeks of marches in 2020 to protest racial injustice, rising housing costs and a spike in violent crime.
During the campaign, Gorton said she met every challenge over the past three and a half years and has steered the city toward economic stability during uncertain times.
The nonpartisan primary race was largely dominated by crime as the top issue, with Kloiber and Wallace attacking Gorton and her administration for failing to do more to stem gun violence and homicides.
Homicides in Lexington rose steadily during the coronavirus pandemic. Cities of similar size and larger saw similar jumps in homicides.
There were 34 homicides in 2020 and 37 in 2021, a new record.
Kloiber and Wallace said the city should look at group violence intervention, which targets groups of people involved in violent crime. It’s a program that has been pushed by Building a United Interfaith Lexington through Direct Action or BUILD, a group of Lexington congregations.
Gorton has said her administration has looked at the group violence intervention model and had concerns that it largely targets minority communities. Some cities that have implemented group violence intervention saw violent crime rates increase, Gorton said.
Through One Lexington, the city’s violence intervention programs, the city has started a PIER program that focuses on prevention, intervention, enforcement and re-entry programs. That program has just started and the city needs to give it more time to determine if it is effective, Gorton said.
Kloiber and Wallace also raised concerns about the use of Flock Safety Cameras, a controversial program that uses license plate reader cameras to capture license plates. Those license plate numbers are fed into a computer system that compares those license plates to lists of stolen vehicles, Amber alerts and other crime databases. It is currently a pilot program. Gorton has proposed $275,000 in her proposed budget to buy an additional 75 cameras.
Kloiber said there is no data that shows using the cameras makes cities safer or reduces crime. Gorton said the license plate readers have already led to several arrests. Wallace has maintained the program needs more transparency. Police have not released the locations of the license plate reader cameras.
Kloiber and Wallace also said it was time the city look at areas where it can expand its growth boundary, which has not been moved since 1996. Gorton has maintained only half of the expansion area that was added in 1996 has been developed and it’s not yet time to expand the growth boundary. Instead, Gorton has touted new programs to help up affordable housing and incentive infill development including a $1 million program to help nonprofits convert abandoned property into affordable housing and $3 million for zero-interest loans to developers to help off-set the costs to develop inside the boundary.
Staff writers Karla Ward, Leah Hunter and Jacob Latimer contributed to this report.
Linda Gorton: 32,644
David Kloiber: 6,436
Adrian Wallace: 6,022
William Weyman: 830