Updated: Oct 4, 2021
JANUARY 03, 2021 5:32 PM
Hannah LeGris, one of four new Lexington-Fayette Urban County council members, holds up her hand while being sworn in during the ceremony at the Lexington Senior Center in Lexington, Ky., on Jan. 3, 2021. ARDEN BARNES
The 15-member Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council has several new faces.
In a small, socially-distanced ceremony at the Lexington Senior Center on Sunday, the new council was officially sworn in.
Mayor Linda Gorton congratulated the new council and the new members.
“This is a moment of excitement, anticipation and challenge as you work to serve your districts through this most historic time — a global pandemic,” Gorton said in a written message shared during the ceremony. Gorton was not able to attend the small ceremony.
Vice Mayor Steve Kay said COVID-19 has changed many things but one thing remains — the celebration of a system of democracy that allows for peaceful changes in leadership such as Sunday’s ceremony.
Still, the pandemic poses real challenges for the city and its residents, Kay said.
“We do not get to choose the times in which we live,” Kay said. “And we don’t get to choose the challenges that we face. Our job, as always, is to make the best of the times we are given and treat those challenges as opportunities as much as possible. COVID-19 has made some of our ongoing challenges both more clear and more formidable. We’re optimistic that we will soon be through the worst of this pandemic.”
The four new members of the council are:
Hannah LeGris, who represents the 3rd Council District, which includes much of downtown
Liz Sheehan, who represents the 5th Council District, which includes much of Chevy Chase and near downtown neighborhoods
David Kloiber, who represents the 6th Council District, which includes many neighborhoods in the Winchester Road corridor
Whitney Elliott Baxter, who represents the 9th Council District, which includes neighborhoods in the Reynolds Road corridor
Returning district council members include: James Brown, Josh McCurn, Susan Lamb, Preston Worley, Fred Brown, Amanda Bledsoe and Kathy Plomin. District council members serve two-year terms. Kay and at-large members Chuck Ellinger and Richard Moloney serve four-year terms and were not up for re-election last year. Sunday’s swearing-in ceremony was only for district council members.
For the first time since the merged government, the council will only have one Black member — James Brown. There has always been at least two Black members on the council since 1974, when the city and county merged governments.
On top of the council’s to-do list in the next two years is implementing recommendations from Gorton’s Commission on Racial Justice and Equality, which released more than 54 recommendations late last year to address systemic racism in Fayette County.
The new council has six women and nine men.
Beth Musgrave has covered government and politics for the Herald-Leader for more than a decade. A graduate of Northwestern University, she has worked as a reporter in Kentucky, Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois and Washington D.C.