New mayor Linda Gorton asks Lexington to ‘dream big’


Mayor Linda Gorton addresses the crowd after taking her oath of office during her inauguration ceremony in the Gatton Student Center Grand Ballroom in Lexington, Kentucky. “I know our citizens want the very best for their city,” Gorton said, “they want us to dream big dreams for Lexington.” Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Rick Childress

Hundreds gathered on Sunday to witness Lexington’s new mayor, Linda Gorton, and the city council take the oath of office in the Grand Ballroom of UK’s student center.

Gorton, 70, was greeted by a standing ovation as she took the podium to deliver a short speech after being sworn into office by Fayette judge Ernesto Scorsone. She spoke highly of her alma-mater and thanked UK President Eli Capilouto for hosting the ceremony on campus.

“By taking our first steps as a new mayor, and as new council members, right here on this UK stage, we’re sending a message,” Gorton said during the speech. “UK and the city of Lexington are walking hand-in-hand into the future. What’s good for UK, our city’s largest employer, is good for Lexington. What’s good for Lexington is good for the University of Kentucky.”

In his own short speech, Capilouto said that from its earliest days, UK was connected to Lexington, as the main core of the university’s buildings is built on a former city park.

“Though our mission is statewide, our home is here and our heart is here in this community,” Capilouto said. “On behalf of our entire campus, congratulations to our new and returning council members and mayor-elect, Linda Gorton. We are honored to play to host to the next chapter in Lexington’s story.”

The ceremony was interspersed with local music acts, including UK’s acoUstiKats. The crowd filled nearly every seat in the ballroom. Several prominent local politicians were in attendance, including U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, Attorney General Andy Beshear and three of Lexington’s past mayors.

“We look forward to working with Mayor Gorton, who continues in the tradition of generations of stable, thoughtful, creative leaders in and out of government who how to work well together, and whose focus has been on doing what is best for our community,” Vice Mayor Steve Kay, who is serving his second term, told the crowd. 

During her speech, Gorton told Lexingtonians to “dream big,” and she was optimistic about the city’s future. She promised an aggressive economic campaign that would attract tech companies and help grow local companies and small businesses.

Gorton planned to continue some of the projects started under outgoing mayor, Jim Gray, who has been the city’s mayor for the past eight years. 

She said she looked forward to opening Town Branch Commons, a large 10-acre park that is being built next to Rupp Arena, and the newly renovated Lexington Convention Center.

According to a press release, Gorton is originally from Ohio, but she moved to Lexington to attend UK’s nursing school. She’s spent 16 years on the city council, including four years as the city’s vice mayor. 

Gorton was voted to be Lexington’s next mayor in the November election. With more than 63 percent of the vote, she defeated her opponent, Ronnie Bastin, a former city police chief.

“We know our city has long been in the business of making big dreams come true,” Gorton said. “Let’s dream big, Lexington.”