June 23, 2023 12:00pm

Poll members pretty evenly split on expanding Lexington's growth boundary, but most think it won't change housing prices much.

Sizable majorities of poll members favor Gov. Andy Beshear's re-election and don't think Donald Trump is fit to serve another term.

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Lexington, KY Correspondent
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Power Poll Lexington members are pretty evenly divided about the Urban County Council’s recent decision to allow development on up to another 5,000 acres of rural Fayette County land, with a slight majority favoring the move.

But most Power Poll members think the decision will have little effect on slowing the rise of housing prices in Lexington. High housing prices and claims of jobs lost to surrounding counties because of lack of land for business expansion were the main arguments made by business interests who pushed for expansion of the Urban Services Boundary.

The boundary was created in 1958 as one of the nation’s first efforts to control suburban sprawl fueled by the post-World War II economic boom and the growing popularity of automobiles. The Urban Services Boundary has been expanded many times, most recently in 1996 when 5,330 acres of rural land was opened for development. Nearly half of those acres remain undeveloped.

Over the objections of the city’s Planning Commission, which said more study and data were needed to justify expansion, the council this month directed the commission to identify between 2,700 and 5,000 rural acres that could be opened for development. Also, by the end of next year, the commission must develop a master plan for that development, determine what infrastructure is needed and who will pay for it.

Asked whether they approve of the council’s decision, 47% of Power Poll members voting this month (110 members) said yes, while 45% (105 members) said no. Seventeen members (7%) had no opinion.

Members were then asked how much impact opening more rural land for development would have on slowing the rise of housing prices in Lexington. Fourteen members (6%) thought it would have “a lot” of impact, while 87 members (38%) thought “it may have some effect.” Fifty-six members (24%) thought “it won’t have much effect” while sixty-six members (28%) thought it would “have virtually no effect.” Nine members (4%) of those voting had no opinion.

At this point in a poll article, I usually add excerpts from comments that Power Poll members left about a question to capture the flavor of member views. This month, though, several members left long and thoughtful comments that can’t accurately be captured in a few sentences. So, please click on the "view comments" button and read their opinions in full. Commenters include a young technology entrepreneur, the former mayor of Midway, a major developer of affordable housing, a forest scientist, and the director of Fayette County’s farmland preservation group, among others. This is the kind of thoughtful discussion that makes Power Poll interesting.

Since the last monthly Power Poll, state Attorney General Daniel Cameron scored a decisive win over a crowded field of Republican candidates for the right to challenge Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, for re-election in November’s general election.

With campaign ads already flying around fast and furious, it seemed like a good time to ask who members plan to vote for at this stage of the campaign.

Beshear was the overwhelming favorite of Lexington Power Poll members, with 188 members (81%) saying they plan to vote for him rather than Cameron, who was the choice of 30 members (13%). Fourteen members (6%) had no opinion.

In Kentucky, as in other states, urban voters tend to vote more for Democrats while rural voters tend to vote more for Republicans. Kentucky is a predominantly rural — and now, Republican — state, so it will be interesting to see how this result compares with statewide polling in the race in coming weeks.

Another major political development since the last poll was the federal indictment of Former President Donald Trump on 37 felony counts related to keeping, hiding and mishandling documents that included some of the nation’s most closely held national security secrets.

Trump, who was impeached twice but acquitted both times by Senate Republicans, also has been indicted in New York for campaign finance violations related to his payoff of a porn star with whom he had an affair. Trump also may face indictment in Georgia for election tampering, as well as more federal charges related to his role in the insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021, that left several people dead and did several million dollars’ worth of damage to the U.S. Capitol building.

Trump carried Kentucky in both the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections and remains popular among Republicans. He is by far the leading candidate for the Republican nomination for president in 2024. But national polling shows that a majority of non-Republicans consider his criminal charges disqualifying in his current re-election bid.

What do Lexington Power Poll members think? An overwhelming majority — 212 members (91%) — think Trump is unfit to serve a second term as president. A dozen members (5%) think he is fit to serve, while eight members (3%) have no opinion.

Cameron continues to tout his endorsement by Trump. Like other Republican politicians, he has said little about the specific crimes Trump is accused of committing, preferring instead to criticize Trump’s indictment by a federal grand jury of Florida citizens as politically motivated.

While Trump’s endorsement likely has helped Cameron among dedicated Republicans, the big question will be how it plays with Kentucky voters who now oppose Trump. A comment left by Power Poll member Mary C. Minor may offer a clue.

“On the Daniel Cameron and Trump question,” she said, “my feeling is that if I don't feel Trump is fit to serve and Cameron is backed by Trump then not going to back him.”

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About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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