Council Aides get unauthorized bios, Gorton gets phished, and some new CMs troll Lexpark – It’s Lexington Meta #2!

2023 Urban County Council Legislative Aides – An Unauthorized Report

While being a Council Member is a part time job that pays just over $30K per year, their Legislative Aides work full time, and some say they are the people “behind the curtain” at the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council (though those claims may be overblown.)

I reached out to all Council Members for a photo and bio of their Legislative Aide for the term. I also reached out to the Council Clerk for a list of Legislative Aides. No contacted parties responded.

Fortunately, I anticipated that might happen, so I also made a request for the staff list under the Kentucky Open Records Act.

This report is mostly just the public facing information I could find about each aide. Their experience runs the gamut from fresh faced new graduate to seasoned political operatives, with a lot of dedicated civil servants in between.

Vice Mayor Dan Wu – Tori Cruz-Falk

Cruz-Falk served as outreach coordinator on Hannah LeGris’ 2020 Council campaign and volunteer coordinator on Dan Wu’s 2022 campaign. She’s also reportedly bilingual in Spanish, which is very useful for a Council aide.

Cruz-Falk has also worked as a legal secretary and a cafe server. She graduated from UK with a BA in International Relations and Spanish in 2020. This is her first term as a Council Aide.

Victoria Cruz-Falk (LinkedIn)

At-Large CM James Brown – Sharon Murphy

Sharon Murphy has been a Legislative Aide at LFUCG since March 2022, according to her LinkedIn. Prior to that, she was Deputy Political Director at the Kentucky Democratic Party.

She participated in Emerge Kentucky in 2015, where she gave the following bio:

Sharon Murphy is a native of Lexington, Kentucky. She is returning to the Bluegrass State from Georgia and Ohio, where she received her Master of Public Policy, concentration in Social Policy from the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University. While in graduate school, she volunteered on President Obama’s 2012 campaign. Sharon moved to Ohio, where she became a Spring 2014 Fellow for Organizing for Action campaign on educating and enrolling people for the Affordable Care Act.

Murphy donated to CM Denise Gray in 2022, and Democrats Lamar Allen and Corbin Snardon in 2020.

Sharon Murphy (LinkedIn)

At-Large CM Chuck Ellinger – Shannon Settles

Shannon Settles has been a Legislative Aide at LFUCG for 18 years, according to their LinkedIn. It’s not clear if they were a Legislative Aide the entire time, though–in 2017 they appear to have responded to an open records request from within the Mayor’s Office.

District 1 CM Tayna Fogle – Tyler Morton

Tyler Morton served as an intern under CM James Brown when Brown was District 1 CM, and will step up to take the full-time Aide role now that Tayna Fogle holds the position.

Morton has an MPA from EKU and a BA from UK. He is the grandson of UK’s fist Black graduate.

Tyler Morton (LinkedIn)

District 2 CM Shayla Lynch – LaShawn Barber

LaShawn Barber was Director of Grants at YMCA of Central Kentucky before taking over as District 2 Legislative Aide in January. She has an MBA from Tennessee State University.

LaShawn Barber (LinkedIn)

District 3 CM Hannah LeGris – Nicole Saitta

Nicole Saitta previously served as Legislative Aide to Vice Mayor Steve Kay, managed Finance and Volunteers for Hannah LeGris’ 2022 campaign, and was Finance Manager for Democrat Josh Hicks’s 2020 Congressional campaign. She has an MA and a BA from UK, where she was a varsity cheerleader.

It’s not clear what series of events occurred to clear the way for her to become LeGris’ new aide, but word is that LeGris’ old aide got snapped up by LFUCG’s Division of Water Quality almost as soon as she was on the market. If that’s the case, it’s notable that LeGris was willing to part ways with her old aide to bring on Saitta. It’s also possible that LeGris’ old aide already had the new job lined up and timed it to coincide with the new Council term to make the transition easier.

Nicole Saitta (LinkedIn)

District 4 CM Brenda Monarrez – Will Haydon

Will Haydon is an experienced political staffer, including a role as a Field Organizer with Amy McGrath for Senate in 2020. In 2021 he served as a Field Organizer for the New Jersey Democratic State Committee, and in 2022 he was Regional Organizing Director for the Ohio Democratic Party.

Haydon has also interned for Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA), the Los Angeles Superior Court, and Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA)

Will is from Montgomery County and briefly attended UK before transferring to California State University, Northridge, where he graduated with a BA.

Will Haydon (LinkedIn)

District 5 CM Liz Sheehan – Layton Garlington

Layton Garlington doesn’t have a LinkedIn or public social media, but there is enough floating around online to safely speculate that he’s left of center.

Garlignton’s work and educational attainment are a mystery, but he’s been District 5’s Council Aide since at least 2021. There’s some evidence to suggest he may be a WKU grad.

District 5 Aide Layton Garlington protests Trump nominee Betsy DeVos in Bowling Green (Bac Totrong/BG Daily News)
District 5 Aide Layton Garlington (left) at a 2019 Kentuckians for the Commonwealth voter registration drive. (KFTC)

District 6 CM Denise Gray – Clayton Brown

Clayton Brown served as president of the Kentucky Young Democrats from 2018 to 2020. He’s served as a state Legislative Intern and as a campaign manger in 2016 and 2020. This appears to be his first term as a Council Aide.

He graduated from UK in 2014 with a BA.

Clayton Brown (LinkedIn)

District 7 CM Preston Worley – Renea Buckles

Renea Buckles has held a Council Aide position since at least 2018. It’s hard to get a read on Buckles politically – in 2022, she donated to Democratic Constable candidate Andrea Welker during the primary, but it’s easy to write that off as her opposing Welker’s controversial opponent more than her explicitly supporting a Democrat. She keeps her public social media pretty nonpartisan.

Buckles’ full professional experience and educational attainment is unknown.

Renea Buckles

District 8 CM Fred Brown – Shauntae Hall

Shauntae Hall has worked for LFUCG for almost 16 years, and has been a Legislative Aide for eight, according to her LinkedIn.

Public sector professional with extensive experience in the executive and legislative branches of local government. Resourceful problem solver, proficient in research, budget management, critical thinking, constituent relations, and communication. Self-motivated, organized and process-driven with the proven ability to build and sustain relationships with government officials, key stakeholders, lawmakers and the community.

Pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree at the University of Kentucky.

Shauntae Hall, LinkedIn Bio
Shauntae Hall (LinkedIn)

District 9 CM Whitney Baxter – Rob Bolson

Rob Bolson is semi-known local photographer and a Council Aide since 2021 to CM Baxter. Prior to serving under Baxter, Bolson worked as an Aide to CM Jennifer Mossotti from 2013 to 2020, according to his LinkedIn.

According to Bolson’s website, “His work has appeared in the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Lexington Herald-Leader, TOPS magazine, and on and and on SportsViewAmerica.”

He’s a pretty good follow on insta, too. I’d seen his photos of Parkette being demolished long before I knew he was a Council Aide.

Bolson donated to Jennifer Mossotti and Steven Elder in 2018 and Jim Gray in 2010. All were nonpartisan local races.

Rob Bolson (

District 10 CM Dave Sevigny – Alicia Larmour

Alicia Larmour has worked for the Council since 2017. According to her LinkedIn, Dave Sevigny will be the fourth Council member she’s served under. She most recently worked for District 2 CM Josh McCurn, who lost to Shayla Lynch in November.

Larmour also serves on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and the Masterson Station Park Advisory Board. She has a BA and MA from UK.

Alicia Larmour (LinkedIn)

District 11 CM Jennifer Reynolds – Sarah Moreles

Sarah Moreles previously worked as an interpreter and as an Outreach Worker with Maxwell Street Health. She’s bilingual and helped CM Reynolds become the first Council Member to communicate all information in both English and Spanish.

It’s not clear how long Moreles has been a Council Aide or what her educational attainment is.

Sara Moreles (LinkedIn)

District 12 CM Kathy Plomin – Shaun Denney

Shaun Denney took over as CM Plomin’s aide in January. Her old aide, who had served under her since 2018, now works as a Senior Environmental Planner at LFUCG. As with LeGris’ old aide, it’s not clear if Plomin’s old aide was dismissed, which led to the new job within LFUCG, or if the new job offer led to the hiring of Plomin’s new aide.

Denney is very public about being active in Southland Church. He previously served as Aide to former CM Amanda Mays-Bledsoe and Council Budget Analyst. He has an accounting degree.

Shaun Denney (Twitter)

Landlords caught lacking

The local landlords’ Facebook group is REALLY against the Tenants’ Bill of Rights. One local landlord recently gave a public comment to Council that called for unity and for tenants and landlords to work together.

Doesn’t seem like the rest got the memo, however. Or maybe their public statements are just dramatically different from what they say when they think they’re in private? Check out some of these screenshots submitted by a reader. Click here to view to full album.

Manchester Hotel non-scandal

I recently did a deep dive into the Manchester Hotel and how it get funded. It all sounded so ominous at first: a 30-year-old former Ivy League horse polo player with a lot of connections managed to convince Council to issue Industrial Revenue Bonds to help him build a hotel. All the same folks who were mad about CentrePointe getting TIF money screamed into the void at the time, but most local advocates were too fixated on the no-knock warrant ban, which was making its way through Council at the same time as the hotel bonds.

Now, what’s the big deal, and why is it not really a big deal?

Okay, so, Industrial Revenue Bonds or IRBs, are a mechanism that local governments can use to incentivize projects to help develop industries in their locality. Most IRB projects are classified as public projects, such as hospitals, that provide a tangible public benefit. These public projects enjoy tax-free financing, effectively allowing them to borrow money at a lower interest rate because the federal government allows the interest paid to lenders on these bonds to be tax-exempt. They also enjoy property tax exemptions because the local government holds the title to the land.

If you watch the Manchester Hotel presentations to Council and the Investment Board, however, you’ll quickly realize that the Manchester’s IRBs were private IRBs. The folks behind The Manchester already had construction financing lined up from a bank and had already purchased all the property they needed with a $10M mortgage. The only sticking point on the construction financing was that the lender would only approve the loan if they could obtain property tax abatement. So while they did technically use IRBs to finance the project, it was really just an accounting trick to get them a discount on property taxes–using IRBs didn’t affect the interest rate they received since they did not receive tax-free financing.

The only way public money was used in the deal was the property tax discount. The hotel developers ultimately worked out a deal where they pay $0.30 below the ad valorem rate to Fayette County Public Schools and similar deals with LexTran and Lexington Public Library, which are also funded through property taxes. So while FCPS is technically going to miss out on about $90,000 per year in property taxes on the deal, they’re still going to receive more than if the hotel was never developed, which it wouldn’t have been if the IRBs were not used for property tax abatement.

There’s still definitely a huge conversation to be had about Lexington’s priorities and whether we really NEED this hotel, but everything here seems to have been done mostly above board. The only real scandal I can see is that a 30-year-old had their shit together enough to actually pull something like this off.

The Manchester Hotel is currently under construction on Manchester St. (The Lexington Times)

Gorton gets phished

While it seems like something pulled from 90’s sitcom Spin City, this actually happened in Lexington in 2023. Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton was recently duped by an online scammer. Just a little advice, folks, if a rando online ever asks you where you grew up or what your first grade teacher’s name was, it’s not because “Angels do have wings,” it’s because they’re data mining your online security questions 🤦🏼‍♂️

Fogle and Gray grow tired of LexPark’s BS

In one of the most legendary moves in recent memory at the Urban County Council, Council Members Tayna Fogle and Denise Gray actually voted AGAINST giving the LexPark guy more time in his presentation this week.
CMs Fogle and Gray vote against giving LexPark more time.

While the motion passed, it seems like most in the audience would have also voted against them 😭

Local advocates comment on LexPark receiving more time.

Dunbar Drama

The saga continues. Dunbar principal Marlon Ball’s administrative leave was extended again this week. The big rumor on Reddit is that HBO is now doing a documentary on the whole thing. With both sides hurling allegations of wrongdoing, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone gets fired over this one before it’s all over.

Ribbon Watch

And finally, Mayor Gorton helped break ground on a new middle school on Polo Club this week. Oddly enough, FCPS Superintendent Liggins was unable to make it.

Mayor Gorton, others break ground on a new middle school. (Facebook)