Joining a chorus of Democratic candidates, retiring Louisville Metro Councilwoman Tina Ward-Pugh says she disagrees with Mayor Greg Fischer’s decision to endorse in the District 9 primary race.
This past Saturday, Fischer announced he is supporting attorney Bill Hollander in a crowded field of 13 contenders.
Many of the council candidates running to replace Ward-Pugh, however, called the mayor’s decision inappropriate.
Ward-Pugh says she contacted Fischer directly to voice her frustration, and told the mayor endorsing Hollander was premature and could backfire among voters.
“I’m just disappointed in the mayor jumping in a race that has at least a half a dozen or so candidates whose voices we need to hear from and get to know more during this primary season,” she says.
Ward-Pugh said her disagreement isn’t a criticism of Hollander, who has donated and volunteered for her in past council races. But she reiterated part of the reason she stepped down was for new voices to be heard.
“More than anything it probably has created another level of or element for his candidacy that might actually work against him. I respect Bill Hollander. But in meeting with the seven or eight Democrats who have filed, I met some wonderfully talented, smart and energetic people who are interested in public service, and I didn’t know them before,” says Ward-Pugh.
Asked if she will pick a candidate to counter Fischer’s endorsement, Ward-Pugh repeated a previous pledge to stay out of the race.
Those upset with the mayor’s decision said it was unfair for a leading Democratic official to jump out in support of a candidate this early. Others argued the mayor had a right to endorse Hollander, whom has been a friend and political ally in past campaigns.
Hollander told WFPL his opponents are exaggerating Fischer’s role in the race, and that District 9 voters still hold the decision in their hands.
“I ask a number of people to support me in the election and I intend to ask a lot more people, and the mayor is one of them. I’m honored to have his endorsement,” he says. “The election is going to be won based on people’s records of neighborhood activism and civic leadership. It’s going to be won by knocking on doors and telling people what your ideas are about the future.”
Hollander says he respects Ward-Pugh’s position, but hopes she is wrong about a possible backlash among residents.
District 9 includes the Clifton, Clifton Heights, St. Matthews and Crescent Hill neighborhoods.