Lexington mayoral candidates face off in heated forum

Lexington mayoral candidates face off in heated forum
Published: Sep. 14, 2022 at 10:30 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - There were fiery exchanges Wednesday evening between Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton and her opponent Councilmember David Kloiber.

Those exchanges happened during a candidate forum at the Lyric Theatre. The first questions focused on the ongoing violence in the city.

The group violence intervention (GVI) strategy took center stage.

Kloiber is a strong supporter of GVI, saying it has proven to decrease gun violence and homicides in cities where it is implemented. Mayor Gorton said she has talked to cities who say the opposite, and that many have stopped using it.

The program was mentioned several times throughout the night, even in questions unrelated to violence.

The candidates were asked about different ways to incorporate safety changes, beginning with GVI.

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

“My administration has called many cities that were on the list of using GVI. There is no connection between GVI and decrease in homicide. This is a fact,” Gorton said.

It was an intense exchange as Kloiber mentioned policing and resources for the department, claiming Mayor Gorton and Police Chief Lawrence Weathers don’t have a strong working relationship.

“We’re asking the community to step up. Well, it’s our job as the government, it’s your job as the mayor to build that community relationship. When the chief is coming out and saying ‘We need the community to step up,’ what he’s actually saying is, ‘You’re failing me mayor,’” Kloiber said.

“You know, the chief and I have an excellent relationship, and 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,” Gorton said.

The controversial Flock cameras were also asked about. Mayor Gorton continues to tout them as a tool for police to investigate crimes, while Kloiber says they don’t prevent crime and are a waste of money.

“They have helped the police with 35 criminal cases in solving them. They have found 11 missing persons. This all because they give information,” Gorton said.

“For $250,000 you know what we could do? We could fully implement the GVI program that was recommended to us in 2019,” Kloiber said.

There were heated moments over topics that are the leading issue heading into election day.

When it comes to GVI, Mayor Gorton said while she was looking into it, she had a concern that it disproportionately targets minority communities. Meanwhile, Kloiber says the community wants to see it introduced here.

There were also other topics discussed at the forum, like healthcare, rent and affordable housing, and bridging gaps with other disparities.

The Supreme Court ruling over abortion was also mentioned, and the candidates were asked what they would do to protect women’s health. Kloiber said one thing he would do is instruct police to not go after medical practices who violate any bans.

Gorton said the government has no place in the medical room with a woman and her doctor, and encouraged people to vote down amendment two of the Kentucky Constitution, which would say there is no constitutional right to abortion in Kentucky.