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Although city-county consolidation has been urged for years as a solution for many urban problems, relatively few communities have come to the point of offering such an option to the voters and in most of the communities that have done so, the voters have rejected the idea.

In 1972 the voters of Lexington and Fayette County, Kentucky, approved consolidation by a better than two-to- one margin. W. E. Lyons examines this victory for consolidation, comparing the Lexington setting with other places where merger has been attempted.

For the first time in the literature, the details of actually drafting a consolidated city-county charter are described. Lyons shows that if either the city or the county government is hostile, the resulting problems are sufficient to stymie the whole undertaking. Even under the most favorable of conditions it is difficult for a commission of thirty citizens to develop the skills and maintain the patience and spirit of compromise necessary to produce a workable charter, acceptable to all members.

This examination of a successful consolidation fight includes the results of several surveys of Lexington voters before the referendum and an analysis of the election results. Lyons’s description of the campaign strategies used and the reasons for their selection will be especially valuable to leaders considering consolidation in their own communities.

W. E. Lyons is professor of political science at the University of Kentucky, Lexington. He served as chairman of the Lexington-Fayette County Merger Commission, the body that drafted the charter for the new consolidated government. He is at present a member of the Urban County Council, representing the Eighth District.

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Lexington, Kentucky, Fayette County


American Politics

The Politics of City-County Merger: The Lexington-Fayette County Experience
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