Louisville Metro Councilman Jim King, D-10, is favored to serve an unprecedented third consecutive one-year term as council president.
Since city and county governments merged, council presidents have traditionally held the seat for a year before stepping down. King informed his Democratic colleagues—who hold a 17-to-9 majority—and Republicans of his intentions this month, and no other candidates have emerged.
“I think I have earned the trust and I want to keep the trust of both sides of the body—Republicans and Democrats. And I do try to work in a manner that is fair to both sides, and moving forward the legislative agenda of the council,” King said.
“I think that the council members see me as someone who can lead them, but I can’t lead them without their support and I certainly value that.”
Over the years, the council president has become the chief voice of the legislative branch in dealing with the mayor. The president is also responsible for naming committee leaders, creating ad hoc panels and setting the agenda for council meetings.
“Metro Council Needs a Manager”
King has been council president since 2011, and also served in the position in 2008. No other member has been council president as long or as often, and fellow Democrats tell WFPL that King has been an effective leader, especially during budget negotiations with the mayor’s office.
There was initial worry when King regained the seat last year that he would clash with Mayor Greg Fischer as a result of their hotly contested 2010 mayoral primary.
“I think President King has been a very good president and I encouraged him to run,” said Councilwoman Tina Ward-Pugh, D-9, who raised concerns about potential tensions between King and Fischer two years ago. “The Metro Council needs a manager who makes all the business and chamber decisions, and all in all, I haven’t been disappointed. I don’t feel President King has spent the last two years making it a hard way to go for Mayor Fischer.”
GOP Leader Prefers New Leadership
Others have said King has too much power and influence over fellow city lawmakers, due in part to his hefty campaign contributions to re-elect fellow Democrats on the council. This became an issue during the May primary, when District 1 candidates alleged King was seeking to control the seat by supporting incumbent Councilwoman Attica Scott.
Council Republicans have generally complimented King on the way he runs council meetings and administers the legislative branch, but the minority caucus has been disappointed about committee assignments and other partisan decisions.
King did little to stop a controversial rule change backed by Democrats that limits council debates to an hour and a half, said Councilman Ken Fleming, R-7, the GOP caucus chairman.
“You have to look at actions more than words, and President King put forth some effort to resolve that rule change but when it came to the vote he sided with party patronage rather than actually doing the right thing,” Fleming said.
“When you have someone there for a long time it is disappointing, and I would rather have some new leadership to come in and provide a different perspective on things,” he adds. “That’s something we need to be mindful of because there are some perspectives that one person might gain too much power.”
King: President Selection Less Partisan
No Republican has stepped forward to seek the presidency, but with a distinct minority the GOP caucus has little chance to regain the seat. King told WFPL that picking the council president has become less partisan, and that his consecutive terms demonstrate that council members from both parties trust him.
Before 2007, however, Republicans and Democrats oscillated the presidency. And it was King who originally proposed that his party, which has always held the majority, choose the president as a group before voting in the full council.
“We’ve just decided to settle down at this point, and as I said earlier my role is to help each council member achieve their individual and collective goals. And I can’t lead without their support but I certainly enjoy working with them and helping them accomplish their own goals,” King said.
The council will vote for president at its first meeting in January.