Home Medical Malpractice Gorton, Kloiber face off in Lexington KY mayor election forum

Gorton, Kloiber face off in Lexington KY mayor election forum

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Lexington mayoral candidates sparred this week over rising homicide rates, abortion and housing.

Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton, who is seeking a second term, said her office has implemented several new programs to address gun violence including One Lexington, which works with youth, and a program at the University of Kentucky Medical Center that works to get services and interventions to gun shot victims.

She has also convened a group of professionals to help the city deal with a rise of domestic violence related homicides. Roughly one third of the city’s 35 homicides to date were domestic violence related, Gorton said.

“Guns are in the hands of criminals who have ill intent,” said Gorton at a forum at the Lyric Theatre Wednesday sponsored by CivicLex and a host of other community organizations.

Lexington-Fayette Urban County Councilman David Kloiber, who is facing Gorton on Nov. 8, said her programs are reactionary. More needs to be done to prevent crime including implementing programs like group violence intervention, which focuses on interventions for people who are involved or likely to be involved in crime.

“This is something that has been vetted for years,” Kloiber said. “For 20 years we have scientific studies showing this can help reduce and prevent the violence.”

Kloiber, who runs his family foundation, is in his first term as a council member.

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David Kloiber, a candidate for Lexington mayor, speaks while current Mayor Linda Gorton looks on during a candidate forum at the Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center in Lexington, Ky., on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022. Ryan C. Hermens rhermens@herald-leader.com

Lexington Police Chief Lawrence Weathers recently asked for the public’s help to stem a rise in shootings. That means he’s not getting the help he needs from Gorton’s administration, Kloiber said.

“What he’s actually saying is, ‘You are failing me, mayor,’” Kloiber said.

Gorton said many cities that once used group violence intervention have scrapped it because those cities, including Memphis, Tenn., have seen homicides continue to climb after implementing the model.

Gorton bristled at Kloiber’s claim that Weathers doesn’t feel supported.

“The chief and I have an excellent relationship,” Gorton said. “It’s offensive to me that my opponent would say: ‘The chief is saying the mayor is not doing enough.’ He should know better but he has never talked to the chief. I talk with him almost daily.”

Kloiber said there have been peer-reviewed studies showing that group violence intervention works.

Abortion

Kloiber and Gorton had different takes on local government’s role after a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe vs. Wade. Nearly all abortions are now illegal in Kentucky. A constitutional amendment on the ballot Nov. 8 seeks to remove a protected right to abortion from the Kentucky constitution.

If elected, Kloiber said he would instruct police “not to take their time off our streets, where they are dealing with rising violence every day, to go investigate medical malpractice or medical suit of this nature.”

Kloiber said other mayors of other cities have done similar things with medical marijuana.

Kloiber said he would also make sure that city employees would have coverage if they had to leave Kentucky to get an abortion.

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Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton, who is running for re-election, speaks during a candidate forum at the Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center in Lexington, Ky., on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022. Ryan C. Hermens rhermens@herald-leader.com

Gorton said she believes that medical decisions should be between a patient and a doctor. Gorton is a registered nurse.

“I hold that sacred — the relationship between a woman and her doctor. Government has no business inside that room,” Gorton said. “We don’t want a woman whose life may be threatened at any minute, waiting for the government to tell her what to do.”

Gorton said people who want the right to choose should vote “No” on the constitutional amendment on Nov. 8. However, Gorton said she doesn’t think it’s right for a mayor to tell police which laws to enforce or not enforce.

“That’s dangerous,” Gorton said.

Affordable housing, rising rents

Gorton said she has long been a proponent of affordable housing, and supported the creation of the affordable housing fund in 2014 when she was vice mayor. Gorton served for 16 years on the council prior to being elected mayor in 2018.

To date, the city has created or preserved 3,000 affordable housing units, leveraging millions of dollars in federal and state funding, she said.

She recommended and the council agreed to set aside $10 million from $121 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding for affordable housing, she said.

“The council, the mayor — we have no way to regulate rent,” Gorton said. “We do have ways to get people into affordable housing.”

Gorton said she created a separate city department dedicated to housing because of the long-standing concerns about housing and housing affordability.

Kloiber said the city has to do more to address affordable housing.

“What we have done and what we are doing is not working,” Kloiber said.

Kloiber said the city needs to incentivize development for affordable housing. Kloiber said he would also advocate for a dedicated funding source for affordable housing. Currently, the city allocates money from the general fund to affordable housing. A dedicated tax or fee would guarantee funding over time.

“Those are things that we can do and not just more of the same,” Kloiber said.

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David Kloiber, a candidate for Lexington mayor, speaks while current Mayor Linda Gorton looks on during a candidate forum at the Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center in Lexington, Ky., on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022. Ryan C. Hermens rhermens@herald-leader.com

Beth Musgrave has covered government and politics for the Herald-Leader for more than a decade. A graduate of Northwestern University, she has worked as a reporter in Kentucky, Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois and Washington D.C.





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