Forum focuses on council candidates

By Laura Edelen

Candidates vying for the spot representing UK on the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council will discuss their positions during a forum Thursday.

A 3rd District forum will be held at 8 a.m. Thursday in the Kentucky Room of the Hyatt Regency at 410 W. High Street.

Participants include Diane Lawless and Eric Thomason, both vying for the seat being vacated by Councilman Dick DeCamp.

Lawless and Thomason will discuss a range of issues, including public gatherings, public art, parking and student housing, said Renee Jackson, organizer of the event and executive director of the Downtown Lexington Corporation. Questions will also be taken from the audience.

Neither candidate supports the CentrePointe project, which involves building a complex including a high-rise luxury hotel in the block between the corners of West Main and South Upper streets and West Vine and South Limestone streets.

“It takes away from the popular places where many younger people have established themselves,” said Thomason, one of the founders of downtown preservation organization Preserve Lexington. “It is wrong that the developers of the project did not seek any community input.”

Lawless said the CentrePointe plan is “not right for the city.”

“All the stakeholders, developers, and architects need to sit at the table and come up with a plan that is in ordinance,” she said.

Besides CentrePointe, the two candidates have other topics they hope to address.

Lawless said during the forum she would like to discuss issues in Lexington neighborhoods, saying it has become “students versus residents” in local neighborhoods. She also said she wants to make sure students know basic rules, such as where drivers can park. Lawless also wants to look into safety issues such as building without a permit.

“I’m looking to embrace students and make them part of the community,” Lawless said. “There is no reason we can’t all live together safely and happily.”

Thomason plans to talk mostly about improvements needed in downtown Lexington, he said. He also said connecting UK with downtown will be one of his goals. To help bridge the gap between the two, Thomason wants to improve South Limestone with better sidewalks and lighting, and more restaurants and entertainment that appeal to students.

“I want to help create a true college town,” Thomason said.