Four years ago, Diane Lawless ran for Lexington city council. This blogger not only contributed to her campaign, rallied for her, and helped distribute yard signs, he believed in her. For four years, Diane Lawless has let down this blogger, her constituents, and the city of Lexington. Want proof? Here’s a photo of me at one of her rallies four years ago. This is written by someone who worked very hard for Lawless four years ago, with the expectation that she would work just as hard for the constituents who she serves; by someone who has been as disappointed with Lawless as with any elected official ever in Kentucky.
In one of her first votes on the council, she voted with the majority in a decision to allow paving of an area that would worsen Lexington’s stormwater runoff disaster, as well as threaten neighborhood quality of life. After the vote, what principled, policy-based reason did Diane Lawless offered as her justification for the vote? Was it
(A) There was new technology that would be able to address the additional stormwater runoff, or
(B) As a council representative, she took a position in favor of businesses and against neighborhoods because she believed there was a critical need for job growth?
(C) That the parameters of planning and zoning criteria amounted to legal requirements which could not be ignored?
(D) None of the above
If you chose D, congratulations. Diane Lawless’ sole justification for her vote was this mind-boggling position: “Well, I voted for it because it was clear it was going to pass anyway.”
Imagine Kathy Stein presented with that scenario. Principled stands for important positions are what elected officials is the duty of officials to the constituents they represent. A position of “I voted for it because it was obviously going to pass anyway” is a failure of the elected official to meet their obligations to represent their constituents.
But there are other and worse ways that Diane Lawless has failed those she represents. For example, it’s pretty difficult to represent anyone when you can’t even be bothered to show up for the work you are paid to do as an elected official. And of all the incumbent candidates for council in Lexington this year, Diane Lawless has the worse attendance record.
The only member with worse attendance was her dear, close political ally K.C. Crosby, of the Republican Party of Kentucky. Lawless missed 16 council meetings, only 2 less than Crosby’s 18 absences. (More to come on Lawless’ alliances with Republicans, including Republican congressional candidate Andy Barr).
There was also an embarrassing failure earlier this year of a council proceeding that Lawless was named to chair. Even that duty didn’t motivate her to actually show up. The entire group assembled waited for a long period, only to have Lawless come stumbling in apologizing for forgetting about her official duties.
The debate also allowed candidates to ask their opponent a direct question. For 3rd district incumbent Diane Lawless and challenger Stephanie Spires, the main point of contention involved attendance at public meetings how much time each candidate is able to spend serving the community.
“I spend seven days a week, sometimes 8 to 14 hours a day. I have to manage my time, and therefore I have missed these DLC meetings because they’re on Thursdays,” said Lawless.
“I learned that you have to handle, if someone slides you a request on a napkin or they Facebook you or they e-mail you, or they call your cell phone at 3 in the morning. And I’m accessible and you can reach me and I will respond,” said Spires.
Try to make sense of Lawless’ response. Go ahead. Her reason for not doing her job is that she has to manage her time, and is unable to do her duty as an elected official because it’s a Thursday. Unlike Lawless, who repeatedly has allied with Republicans, Spires has solidly Democratic positions, and also is willing to actually show up for work and represent her constituents. Showing up, and voting based on principles are just two reasons to choose Stephanie Spires for Lexington’s Third District.