Running for city council

By Melos Ambaye

Lexington voters will face several big decisions in the fall: Do they keep Frank Friedman as mayor? Do they re-elect two city council members who say they’re running? And who will they choose as they vote for school board members for the first time?

The position of mayor and three of six city council seats are up for grabs in the Nov. 5 election.

City Council Members Leslie Straughan and Marilyn Alexander, who is also vice mayor, said they plan to file their official intentions to be on the ballot.

Council Member Charles Aligood said he has not decided yet. “Several factors are in play here that are yet to be determined,” he said, declining to elaborate.

Gene Zitver, vice chair of the Lexington, Rockbridge County and Buena Vista Democratic Committee, said he is unaware of any non-incumbent challengers. A representative of the local Republican Party did not respond to phone calls.

Friedman said in an interview that he would like to see all incumbent city council members seek re-election.

He said he is running for a third term as mayor because he loves collaborating with community members.

“That’s the part that excites me, and I really enjoy about local government, because it really and truly frequently is, you know, where the rubber meets the road,” Friedman said.

In 2022, Lexington voters approved a referendum to elect members to the school board instead of allowing city council to appoint them.

Three school board seats will be up for election. The seats are held by Tammy Dunn, Sandra Hayslette and Brendan Perry.

Dunn took over the role of school board chair in January after the departure of former chairman Tim Diette in December.

She said she will run to be on the board again. Voters won’t choose a new school board chair. Instead, the board will vote among themselves in January to choose a chair and vice chair, Dunn said.

Hayslette and Perry did not respond to several requests for comment on whether they plan to run to keep their seats on the school board.

Dunn is the only candidate who has filed some documents for the election, said Lesley McCormick, chief deputy registrar of the Lexington Voter Registrar.

Candidate requirements

All candidates must gather signatures for petitions and file other documents with the Lexington City Office of Elections by 7 p.m. on June 18.

Straughan said she welcomes competition.

“In 2020, it ended up just being three of us running for three seats,” she said in an interview. “It’s disappointing. You hope for the sake of the community that there’s better participation than that.”

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