Louisville Metro Councilman Jon Ackerson is endorsing Democrat Teague Ridge over fellow Republican Marilyn Parker in the 18th District race.
Parker was backed by the Tea Party in the GOP primary and narrowly defeated Ackerson by 37 votes. The majority of council Republicans also supported Parker over Ackerson, citing that he sided with Democrats on key issues and could not be trusted.
Ackerson says he is not switching parties, but that Ridge will be more involved and that Parker’s views against council members’ use of discretionary funds will hurt the district.
“She’s not supporting using Neighborhood Development Funds in the district, and I think that’s a huge mistake,” he says. “With the Capitol Infrastructure Funds she’s talking about allocating them in other districts other than District 18. And I think that’s also a big mistake. I just don’t think she’s going to provide the quality representation that District 18 needs.”
Parker’s campaign has centered on changing how the $75,000 NDF and $100,000 CIF accounts are used. She has called them “slush funds” for city lawmakers to pay for “unnecessary projects” and to benefit their associates, relatives and friends.
But Parker says Ackerson is misleading voters about her intentions to use the discretionary funds in other parts of the city.
“That’s just an out and out lie,” she says. “One of the reasons Mr. Ackerson lost favor with almost every single Republican on the council is because they could not trust him. There is public sentiment about these discretionary funds and the public is concerned and upset about how these funds are being spent. He’s the one who spends them in other districts.”
Since merger, council Republicans members have pooled their CIF as a caucus and vote as a group in order to pay for larger projects. Ackerson participated in this system except for his first and last year in office, and a GOP caucus spokesperson says the group helped fund a $200,000 project for a park in his district two years ago.
A review of the city budget also shows that Ackerson spent $20,000 from his neighborhood funds for improvements at Crosby Park, which is located in District 19.
Parker told WFPL that discretionary spending should be used for infrastructure only, and not to fund non-profit agencies.
Ackerson says he made his endorsement public after he rejecting an offer by Parker’s campaign manager to endorse, adding that some of her views are outside of the mainstream. But Parker tells WFPL that she does not have a campaign manager, and that it was a vendor who works for her who contacted Ackerson without her permission.
“Councilman Ackerson has a standing history of endorsing Democrats. He’s very upset, because I don’t think it’s been done in history where an incumbent council member has been unseated in the primary. It kind of looks like sour grapes,” she says.
In a recent editorial, the Courier-Journal endorsed Ridge over Parker. If she loses this fall and Democrats retain all of their contested seats, the GOP will have only 8 members on the council.