LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - For the first time in more than a decade, Lexington voters re-elected an incumbent mayor giving Jim Gray a second term.
"Getting things done has been the core theme of our campaign and the core theme of the last four years. And tonight, we can make an addition to the list of things we're getting done: reelection," Mayor Gray told supporters.
By 7:30 p.m., Gray lead over challenger Anthany Beatty was already more than 22,000 votes making his win a certainty.
"And that is humbling," Gray said about winning two-thirds of the vote. "There's no greater honor in our democracy than a vote of public trust. And I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for again placing your trust in me."
A crime wave that made headlines over the summer and how to combat it emerged as one of the most contentious subjects of the campaign along with financing for a renovated Rupp Arena.
Those two key issues became the subjects in the five debates between Gray and Beatty during the campaign.
"Let's thank Anthany and Eunice Beatty. They waged a vigorous campaign. In fact, Anthany and I had five more debates than Lincoln and Douglas did in 1848," Gray said Tuesday evening.
From 2006 to 2010, the former businessman served as vice-mayor.
"Gray went into the race knowing that his two predecessors had been thrown out," said WKYT political editor Bill Bryant. "He worked hard to raise money and run a visionary campaign."
Beatty served as Lexington's police chief from 2001 to 2008 and ran a grassroots campaign focused on forming relationships with the people of Lexington.
In his concession, Beatty thanked his family, volunteers, and supporters and said he was "blessed for this experience."
"We don't quit here, folks," Beatty said. "Don't give up. Regardless of the sacrifices we've made, regardless of the time and effort, this was a win-win here. There's no sad eyes here tonight because this has been a win-win for Lexington."
Beatty told supporters that although he lost he encourages everyone to continue voting.
"From the depths of my heart, I cannot thank you enough," Eunice Beatty said to supporters of her husband's campaign.
The debate of the arena gained statewide attention after a request for the state to provide $80 million in state funds to help renovate the arena and attached convention center failed to get approval in this year's legislature.
In May, a Bluegrass Poll (conducted for WKYT-TV, the Lexington Herald-Leader, the Louisville Courier-Journal, and WHAS-TV) found 75 percent say Gray and Lexington should find some other way to finance the project than ask for state money.
The arena debate quickly turned into a key issue in the Lexington mayor's race.
"It's a rare opportunity to directly create a significant number of jobs and opportunities for the thousands of Kentuckians who need them," said Gray during his quest for financing calling the city's investment in Rupp the single best opportunity to create jobs and a return on investment.
During the campaign, Beatty questioned the cost, financing, and focus on the downtown Lexington development.