Politics

Louisville Metro Council will choose its new president Thursday at its first meeting of the year. And David James, the Democratic councilman from District 6, is expected to be the new man in charge.

The former police officer has served on Metro Council since 2010, representing the western district that includes the neighborhoods of California, Old Louisville and Taylor Berry.

It would not be James’ first time in a leadership position on the council; he’s previously served as Democratic Caucus Chair and President Pro Tem.

James said he is hopeful he will be voted in as president Thursday. He said the council has had some recent wins in the realms of infrastructure and affordable housing, but that he has ideas for other areas where the body can focus.

“We’re facing a $38 million budget shortfall because of the pension crisis is one of the major issues we have to address,” James said. “We have a huge public safety issue in our community, record numbers of homicides and shootings and overdoses that have to be fully addressed. Those are just some of the things.”

If elected, James would replace David Yates, Democrat of District 25, who served two one-year terms in the post, starting in 2016. James would also become the third David in a row to lead Metro Council; Yates was elected following David Tandy, who took the post briefly in 2015 after the death of Jim King.

Yates always planned to serve a maximum of two years as president, and is supporting James for the position, his legislative aide Brian Boles said Wednesday. Yates is also planning to run for re-election to Metro Council this fall for a new four-year term starting in 2019, Boles said.

Democrats voted to endorse James, who was seeking the position of president unopposed, in December, said Democratic Caucus Leader Bill Hollander, of District 9.

Councilman Brandon Coan, Democrat of District 8, said Thursday’s vote to select James will likely be a formality.

“We have the majority, so the expectation is he’ll probably be the guy,” Coan said.

Robin Engel, the District 22 councilman who is the Republican Caucus chair, said he expects a unanimous vote for James from Republicans as well.

He said council Republicans have a good working relationship with James. The minority caucus is willing to support Democrats who recognize Republican talent and who are willing to appoint Republicans to chair committees, he said. Plus, Engel said he likes James’ experience with public safety at a time when Louisville is struggling with crime.

“At the present time in our community, we have crime that is completely out of control,” Engel said. “If he’s elected, we will be happy and willing to tackle some tough crime, public safety issues in our community.”

Amina Elahi is WFPL's City Reporter.