What Lexington Needs, is to Keep Being Lexington!

What Lexington Needs, is to Keep Being Lexington!

Over the past three decades, Ace has invited Lexington’s incoming Mayor and Council Members to contribute an essay to our “What Lexington Needs” space that began as an Ace tradition in the 80s.

WHAT LEXINGTON NEEDS… is to Keep Being Lexington!
by Vice Mayor Steve Kay

When I told my friend Henry that Ace Magazine had asked me to contribute five hundred words or less for their series, “What Lexington Needs,” he was quick to respond.
“I’ll tell you what Lexington needs, and it won’t take me five hundred words. You know this as well as I do. Lexington needs to stop thinking it needs to look elsewhere for answers to the question of what Lexington needs. Lexington needs no more talk of being the next Nashville, or, heaven forbid, the next Atlanta. Lexington needs to stop thinking that the old answers to what makes a community grow and prosper are still the right answers.”
Once Henry gets started he’s a bit hard to stop, but I made an effort.
“Wait a minute Henry,” I said. “What old answers are you talking about, and what are the new right answers?”
“Just look around you, man,” he responded. “What are people excited about? What are people interested in? What are people talking about? Lexington is on a roll because we’ve kept a small town feeling while growing from fifty thousand to three hundred and fifty thousand.”
“Three hundred and thirty thousand, Henry. No need to exaggerate.”
“Whatever. We’ll be at three fifty soon enough. And what Lexington needs is to keep feeling like a small town while we act like a big city. That’s what people want. That’s what attracts people to come here, or come back, or stay put.  Quality of life, man, quality of life.”
“You haven’t said a word about the farmland, Henry.”
“Okay, that too, but everybody knows we have to keep the farmland. What Lexington does not need is more recitation of the reasons why we need to keep preserving the farmland. It’s beautiful, it’s productive, it’s what distinguishes us from every other place in the entire country. We get it.”
“I’m not sure I agree with you there, Henry. Some lessons are so important they bear repeating, and this is one of them. It’s not been so long ago that a lot of people failed to understand the crucial role of farmland for the long-term prosperity of the community.”
“Whatever. Anyway, the simple answer to the big question of What Lexington Needs is that Lexington needs to keep being Lexington. Dance with the partner who brung you.”
“Okay Henry,” I said.
He’s a bit opinionated, but I had to admit he had a point.

Steve Kay is currently serving his second four-year term as Lexington’s vice mayor.  (The council at-large candidate who receives the most votes on Election Day is vice mayor.) Kay has served as Chair of the Mayor’s Commission on Homelessness, Chair of the Downtown Design Excellence Task Force, Chair of the General Government Committee, and Co-Chair of the Infill and Redevelopment Steering Committee. He also spearheaded the formation of Bluegrass Farm to Table, a local food initiative that encourages community health and economic development.

About ‘What Lexington Needs’

Thirty years ago, Ace began including a regular feature from our readers titled, “What Lexington Needs.” A diverse array of local leaders —  from artists and architects, to bankers and business owners, and elected officials of every stripe and party — participated over the decades.

In honor of Ace’s 30th anniversary as Lexington’s oldest independent media, we’ve re-opened the forum. Anyone can contribute. Essays are typically 500 words or less, and the most important criteria is that the writer be passionate about what they believe Lexington needs.


Do you have ideas about What Lexington Needs? Share them. Email 500 words or less to acelist at aceweekly dot com. Include a photo and a sentence or two about yourself.

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