Lexington has been named a finalist for the Bloomberg Philanthropies' Mayors Challenge, according to a press release. The competition invited American cities to submit civic ideas that solve major challenges and improve city life, which can be shared with other cities across the nation.
Lexington was selected based on its idea to create CitizenLex.org, "a new media platform designed to tap into the source of new solutions and ideas the nation has always relied upon in challenging times: its people, its citizens," the release said. "CitizenLex is designed to engage American ingenuity in city problem solving and planning, through robust mining and connecting the dots among studies, reports and ideas, all designed to build a great American city."
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray said more than 440 ideas were submitted by Lexington citizens. "We soon realized the most important idea we could submit for the contest was a way to continue and broaden that exchange and intentionally manage city government."
Lexington will now compete against 19 other cities across the country for the $5 million grand prize or one of four additional prizes of $1 million each. (Click here to see the other finalists.) Mayors of U.S. cities with 30,000 residents or more were eligible to compete in the Mayors Challenge. Over 300 cities, representing 45 states, submitted applications by Sept. 14, 2012.
"Our idea is consistent with the founding themes of our country," Lexington Mayor Jim Gray said. "“The founders built checks and balances into our governing systems in order to prevent the rise of oppressive authority. These checks and balances always stretch the fabric of democracy. Giving the people more of a say is challenging for elected officials – it is not for the timid. But it has been proven over the long arc of history that the democratic fabric is stronger when democratic processes are encouraged.”
A team from Lexington will attend Bloomberg Ideas Camp, a two-day gathering in New York City in November during which city teams will work with each other and experts to further refine their ideas. The Lexington team will then have access to additional technical support to prepare their ideas for final submission. Winners will be announced in spring 2013.