Jim Gray (American politician)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Jim Gray
Mayor Jim Gray.jpg
Secretary of Transportation of Kentucky
Assumed office
December 10, 2019
GovernorAndy Beshear
Preceded byGreg Thomas
Mayor of Lexington
In office
January 2, 2011 – January 6, 2019
Preceded byJim Newberry
Succeeded byLinda Gorton
Personal details
Born (1953-08-18) August 18, 1953 (age 68)
Glasgow, Kentucky, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationEmory University
Western Kentucky University
Vanderbilt University (BA)

James P. Gray II (born August 18, 1953) is the current Kentucky Secretary of Transportation in the administration of Governor Andy Beshear. He is the former mayor of Lexington, Kentucky (Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government) from 2011 to 2019. Gray served as the city's vice-mayor from 2006 to 2010 before being elected mayor in November 2010. Gray won re-election to another four-year term on November 4, 2014.[1] In 2016, he ran for the United States Senate seat held by U.S. Senator Rand Paul. Gray won the May 17 Democratic primary with nearly 60% of the vote but lost the November 8 general election to Paul.[2] Gray was Chairman and CEO of Gray Construction, an engineering, design, and construction company headquartered in Lexington.[3] Once elected, he took an advisory role as Chair of the Board of Directors to focus on his role as mayor.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Gray was raised in Glasgow, Kentucky, the third oldest of Lois and James Norris Gray's six children. He started his college career at Emory University in Atlanta but returned home to help out with the family business when his father died in 1972. He then enrolled at Vanderbilt University, commuting between Glasgow and Nashville while earning a degree in history.[5] After graduating in 1975, he joined the family construction business full-time.

In 1996, after more than 20 years in the construction industry, Gray accepted an offer to become a Loeb Fellow at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design.[6]

The Loeb Fellowship program is created for accomplished practitioners "to pause, study, and reflect at a great University [to] enable those who designed and built our cities to return with renewed insight and energy."[7]

Family business[edit]

Gray's father started the family construction business in 1960, and it has since grown to become one of the twenty largest design-build firms in the country.[8]

Located in the historic Wolf-Wile Building on Lexington's Main St., the Gray Companies include Gray Construction, WS Construction and Gray-I.C.E. Builders, with offices in Anaheim, Birmingham, Bowling Green, Versailles, Lexington, and Tokyo.[8]

The Gray Companies specialize in the design, construction and renovation of large facilities—automotive plants, distribution centers and manufacturing plants—as well as retail and mixed-use developments both in the U.S. and abroad. Among clients for whom major projects have been completed are BMW, CVS, Dollar General, Hitachi, Hyundai, Pepsi Beverages, Procter & Gamble, Siemens and Toyota.[8]

Gray Construction was an industry pioneer in offering, under one roof, both the design and construction of buildings, a practice now widespread in the construction industry. To promote this new concept, Jim Gray co-founded the Design-Build Institute of America in 1993.[9]

After supervising the sales and marketing operations of Gray Construction, Jim Gray became president and CEO of Gray Inc. and the Gray Companies in October 2004, serving until 2009.[9] During his tenure, revenue grew 38%.

Political career[edit]

Early career[edit]

In 1972, at the age of 19, Gray became the second youngest person ever elected as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, which was held in Miami.[9]

Gray's next foray into politics came two decades later when Kentucky Governor Brereton Jones asked him to chair his Committee on Quality and Efficiency. The committee produced the "Wake-Up Call for Kentucky Report," an audit of executive branch spending that included recommendations to eliminate $1 billion in wasteful state spending.[10]

Gray's first run for office was a bid for Lexington Mayor in 2002. He lost the primary and endorsed Teresa Isaac, who was elected.[11]

Vice Mayor of Lexington[edit]

In 2006, Gray ran for one of three Council-at-Large seats in the Lexington City Council and was elected. As the largest vote-getter among the council-at-large candidates, Gray became Vice Mayor and served from 2007 to 2010.[11]

In his role as Vice Mayor, Gray positioned himself as a guardian of rate-payers and tax-payers, challenging Mayor Jim Newberry on overspending at the Blue Grass Airport and potential water-rate hikes.[12][13] He opposed the Owen County Kentucky-American water treatment plant that cost Fayette County rate payers $164 million.

Mayor of Lexington[edit]

In 2010, Gray entered the race for mayor, challenging the incumbent Jim Newberry.[14]

During the campaign, Gray developed the "Fresh Start Plan," containing a pledge to run the government like a good business, with increased transparency and efficiency and with reduced spending and debt.[15]

In November 2010, Gray defeated Newberry 53% to 46%.[16]

Before his first day as mayor, Gray had the entire mayor's office moved from the 12th floor of Lexington's government center to a first-floor ballroom, creating an open office atmosphere that was inspired by his own office at Gray. To learn about operations of a city government, the newly elected mayor paid a visit to Mayor Michael Bloomberg.[17]

Gray has publicly stated that his administration is focused on three areas: creating jobs, making government more efficient, and building Lexington into a great American city.[4]

With Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, Gray launched a joint Lexington-Louisville economic-development initiative in conjunction with the Brookings Institution. The Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement (BEAM) project is aimed at building the bluegrass region of Kentucky as a global center for advanced manufacturing.[18]

Gray was re-elected mayor by a wide margin in 2014.[19]

In 2018 Lexington was ranked by WalletHub as the 5th-best-run city in the country.[20]

U.S. Senate campaign[edit]

On January 26, 2016, Gray announced that he was running for the United States Senate in 2016 for the seat then and currently held by U.S. Senator and former presidential candidate Rand Paul.[21] The senate race was described as an "uphill battle" for Gray.[22] Gray won the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate in Kentucky on May 17, 2016.[23]

On November 8, 2016, Paul defeated Gray 57% to 43%.[2][24]

U.S. House campaign[edit]

On December 5, 2017, Gray announced that he would run for the United States House of Representatives, entering the Democratic primary for Kentucky's 6th congressional district. He was defeated in the May 22, 2018, Democratic primary by Amy McGrath.[25]

Kentucky Secretary of Transportation[edit]

On December 2, 2019, Kentucky governor-elect Andy Beshear, announced in a news conference that Gray will be appointed as Kentucky Secretary of Transportation, Gray was sworn in on December 10th.[26]

Personal life[edit]

A lifelong collector of modern art, Gray created and helped endow the Gray Art Experience, an annual art-appreciation trip to New York City for University of Kentucky Gaines Fellows.[27]

Gray was married for seven years and has no children. In 2005, Gray publicly announced that he is gay.[11]


  1. ^ "Gray, Gorton inaugurated as Lexington mayor, vice mayor". Kentucky.com. Archived from the original on January 6, 2011.
  2. ^ a b "Rand Paul defeats Jim Gray to keep his Senate seat". kentucky. Retrieved 2016-11-11.
  3. ^ "Gray Construction - History of Gray Construction | Gray Construction". Gray.com. 1960-10-11. Retrieved 2013-12-03.
  4. ^ a b "Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Lexington, Kentucky : Mayor Jim Gray". Lexingtonky.gov. 2013-09-13. Retrieved 2013-12-03.
  5. ^ Mead, Andy. "Jim Gray: Points to empty block downtown, controversies". Kentucky.com. Retrieved 2013-12-03.
  6. ^ "January–February '98 Issue - Life by Design". Harvardmagazine.com. 2007-11-05. Retrieved 2013-12-03.
  7. ^ "Harvard Graduate School of Design". www.gsd.harvard.edu.
  8. ^ a b c "About Gray - A Top-20 Industrial Construction Design-Build Firm | Gray Construction". Gray.com. Retrieved 2013-12-03.
  9. ^ a b c Gray: Building on a Legacy, Documenting 50 years of Gray Construction. Self-published, 2010.
  10. ^ Jones, Brereton C. The public papers of Governor ... - Brereton Jones, Penny M. Miller, Kentucky. Governor (1991-1995 : Jones) - Google Books. ISBN 0813130654. Retrieved 2013-12-03.
  11. ^ a b c Mead, Andy (2009-12-28). "Vice mayor will try to unseat Newberry | Mayoral Election". Kentucky.com. Retrieved 2013-12-03.
  12. ^ Herald-Leader Staff Report. "Airport audit argued at mayoral forum | Mayoral Election". Kentucky.com. Retrieved 2013-12-03.
  13. ^ Mead, Andy (2010-07-29). "At hearing, Lexington mayoral candidates air views about water plant, rate hike | Latest Local, State News". Kentucky.com. Retrieved 2013-12-03.
  14. ^ Roberts, Sherelle (February 5, 2010). "Jim Gray running for mayor". WKYT.
  15. ^ Mead, Andy (2010-08-19). "Gray releases 'Fresh Start Plan' for Lexington | Mayoral Election". Kentucky.com. Retrieved 2013-12-03.
  16. ^ "Lexington, Ky., voters elect 1st openly gay mayor". Washingtonpost.com. 2010-11-02. Retrieved 2013-12-03.
  17. ^ Nocera, Joe (2010-12-10). "Jim Gray, Mayor-to-Be, Looks to Bloomberg for Governing Insights". The New York Times.
  18. ^ Fortune, Beverly (2013-09-25). "Mayors of Lexington and Louisville team up on initiative to boost jobs | Business". Kentucky.com. Retrieved 2013-12-03.
  19. ^ Combs, Jerrika Insco, Miranda. "Jim Gray re-elected Lexington mayor in decisive win".
  20. ^ Bernardo, Richie (2018-07-09). "2018's Best & Worst Run Cities in America". wallethub.com.
  21. ^ Youngman, Sam (January 26, 2016). "Lexington Mayor Jim Gray running against U.S. Sen. Rand Paul". Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved January 26, 2016.
  22. ^ Tate, Curtis (February 17, 2016). "Kentucky US Senate race 'an uphill battle' for Democrat Jim Gray". Star-Telegram. Retrieved March 18, 2016.
  23. ^ Schreiner, Bruce (May 17, 2016). "Glasgow-native Jim Gray wins Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate". Glasgow Daily Times.
  24. ^ "Elections 2016 Results: Senate Race". elections16.courier-journal.com. Retrieved 2016-11-11.
  25. ^ Nilsen, Ella (May 22, 2018). "Veteran Amy McGrath continues a Democratic winning streak for women and veterans". Vox. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  26. ^ Brammer, Jack (December 2, 2019). "Beshear picks former Lexington Mayor Jim Gray to be transportation secretary". Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved December 6, 2019.
  27. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-05-24. Retrieved 2011-10-12.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Mayor of Lexington
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Kentucky
(Class 3)

Succeeded by