Is compromise possible today? Mayor Gray thinks so


Lexington Mayor Jim Gray spoke on polarization and compromise at the Hilary J. Boone Center in Lexington, Ky. on Feb. 20, 2018. Photo by Shannon Hickerson | Staff

Shannon Hickerson

In today’s polarized society, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray thinks opposing sides can work towards compromise.

Gray led a conversation Tuesday night in the Boone Center on UK’s campus as a part of The Center for Equality’s conversation series called “Social Justice: Keys to Our Common Future.”

The topics that were discussed ranged from Lexington jobs to how artists can play a role in social justice.

Much of the discussion, however, focused on the political polarization in today’s society and how opposing sides can work together towards compromise.

Gray said one should not compromise their own core values in order to reach negotiation. Rather, he talked about how we can try to understand each other’s ideology.

“Acknowledging different ideology is very important,”Gray said. “Routinely I have worked to engage other people’s points of view and listen to what is deep inside them and influencing them.”

Compromise can hurt, Gray said, “but I also know that it is essential.”

After his formal talk, Gray answered questions that were asked by students via Twitter.

One question asked Gray how he felt about being the first openly gay mayor of Lexington and how he believes it affects his experience in the political sphere.

“Doing your job is what’s relevant and important. If people see me as a role model, and if it helps others that are gay, especially young people, then I have done my job,” he responded. 

After the discussion, Gray explained why he decided to come speak to UK students.

“The university is such a big part of Lexington,” Gray said. “Anytime I, as mayor, can engage with students I am willing. I feel like it is my duty and responsibility, and it is also a lot of fun.”

Journalism professor Buck Ryan said that his initial reactions to the night were that he thinks Mayor Gray is an amazing example of a businessman.

“He has also moved into civic life and has succeeded in both worlds, which is not easy,” Ryan said.

Graduate student of Clinical Social Work Felicia Turner said her biggest takeaway from the night was “hearing him talk about persistence and patience.“

Turner also said that even though it can be “easy to get discouraged with the current political climate, I believe this discussion has helped to restore some hope. ”