Gorton supporters celebrate future of Lexington at watch party


Linda Gorton and her supporters celebrate her mayoral race win at her election party at Limestone Hall in Lexington, Ky. on Nov. 6, 2018. Photo by McKenna Horsley | Staff

A large crowd celebrated Linda Gorton’s victory over opponent Ronnie Bastin for the Lexington mayoral seat at a watch party at the Historic Lexington Courthouse on Tuesday with chants of “Linda, Linda,” cheers and dancing to the sounds of TeeDee Young and his band.

“I’ve always been attracted to her because she has shown herself be someone who can work with a variety of people,” said Gorton supporter Susan Abbott-Jamieson, who retired from her job as a UK professor of anthropology in 1998. “She’s very good at changing her mind if she gets new information that she thinks warrants it.” 

Abbott-Jamieson said she thinks Bastin’s history with law enforcement was a weakness. “I think he’s used to a top-down command structure. And I don’t think a top-down command structure is gonna work with city government.” 

The Lexington Herald-Leader and other news organizations called the race for Gorton around 7 p.m. with 64 percent of the vote and 44 percent of precincts reporting. Soon after, Bastin conceded. 

“I’ll do all I can to support [Linda Gorton] in her work as mayor,” Bastin said in his concession speech. “Though we didn’t come out on top tonight,” he said, “I’m so proud of the race that we did run.”

A local student, Kimberly Emrick, echoed this sentiment. “I think people are more familiar with Gorton, so it’s not necessarily a downfall on Bastin. With all of the feminism and stuff going on, I think people really wanted to vote for Gorton,” she stated.

In her victory speech, Gorton acknowledged Bastin’s “gracious” call to congratulate her. “He said that whatever he could do to help me, he would be happy to.”

Gorton told the Kernel before her victory speech that she was thrilled with the voter turnout.  “The turnout is awesome. I think as a community, we need to say ‘let’s do this every time we vote'”. 

“I’m really humbled by the public’s support of me through the voting process. I’m just really looking forward to getting to work.” 

Cole Pleasants, an intern who worked with Gorton’s campaign and who graduated from UK in 2014 with a major in business management, said his time volunteering for Gorton’s campaign has showed him what he wants to do with his life.

“It has gotten me out of my comfort zone. I’m not one to go knock on doors and talk about passion,” he said, but, “this whole process has led me to open up new doorways and learn new things about myself and be more comfortable around everybody.” 

“Linda is fantastic and she is what the city of Lexington needs,” Pleasants said. “She is a listener. She is gonna listen to everybody.”

He said he has learned a lot through working with the campaign and said he feels Gorton embodies what he wants to see Lexington be.

“I think she’s obviously going to be a great leader for Lexington,” he said.

Gorton was all smiles throughout the night, and when her victory was announced, she said, “I feel like dancing” followed by a small jig and a “We did it” to an excited supporter. 

Gorton shared a quote with the crowd that she said “nudged” her return to public office: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls and it looks like work.”

She told the crowd gathered that opportunity offers enjoyment as well as work, and that she is looking forward to both during her four years as Lexington’s next mayor. 

“This campaign has given us so many moments of joy,” she said. “I’ve met hundreds of people and made so many new friends.” 

She reflected on the “enthusiasm” she has seen from voters across the city, the “heartfelt laughter” and the exchange of ideas that fit her goal of transparency in government. But she also reminded voters of the work side to opportunity.

“We want to grow our economy,” she said. “And we want that economy to include everyone.”

She said Lexington, under her leadership, will continue to grow as a hub for high-tech jobs in business and agriculture.

“My aim is sustainable growth. My administration will honor Lexington’s long history of innovative land use, ensuring balanced growth, protecting against urban sprawl and supporting well-planned development.” 

She said she looks forward to talking the “thorniest of problems” such as the drug addiction rate, crime increase, gun safety, safety in schools and transportation dilemmas. 

“You have joined me in showing it’s possible to run a non-partisan, upbeat, policy-oriented campaign,” Gorton told her audience, iterating the importance of integrity in the midst of “divisive, sometimes anger-filled times”.

Gorton promised to promote inclusivity and diversity at city hall, transparent and accessible government and growth and prosperity that excludes no one. 

“To those who voted for me, those who voted for my opponent and to those who didn’t vote at all,” she said, “I will be the mayor for all citizens of this city.”