A day before the filing deadline, the Louisville Metro Council district races have largely taken shape.
Half of the city’s 26 council seats are up for election this year, and several incumbents will likely go unchallenged.
But three prominent council members aren’t seeking re-election. Between those seats and a few incumbents facing challenges, this year’s elections could change the complexion of the city’s legislative body — and rearrange who have the most influence over local laws.
The deadline to run for Metro Council as a Democrat or Republican is Tuesday. Here’s where the races stand.
Democrat Barbara Shanklin is the incumbent. She was first elected to represent the district in 2002 and is seeking to retain her seat. She is being challenged by Democrats Richard Harrison, Caroline Grundy and Yvonne Woods.
The district includes the Newburg, Poplar Hills and Buechel areas.
In 2013, an ethics inquiry found that Shanklin had committed misconduct, but the council declined to remove her from office.
Shanklin defeated Woods and another candidate in the 2012 Democratic primary amid the ethics scandal.
“What people will be looking for is whoever can better this community,” said Ruben Pulliam, president of the Petersburg-Newburg Improvement Association.
Pulliam said a key issue he’d like to see addressed in the district is vacant and abandoned properties.
The district covering Smoketown, Shelby Park, Russell and downtown won’t have an incumbent running this year. Democrat David Tandy recently announced he would not seek re-election.
He’s been the District 4 representative since 2005. His decision to step aside has made way for would-be council newcomers Bryan Burns and Barbara Sexton Smith to file for the Democratic primary.
Update at 9:30 a.m.: Marshall Gazaway filed late Monday for the District 4 seat.
The district includes the Smoketown, Shelby Park, Russell and downtown areas.
“We need a council person to look for those grassroots ideas and implement them in such a way that people consider our neighborhoods as neighborhoods of choice,” said Chip Rogalinski, president of the Shelby Park Neighborhood Association.
Rogalinski said District 4 needs a representative who can connect the diverse neighborhoods of the district. He said increasing the area’s tree cover, boosting resident engagement and working to rebrand the area are key issues.
Haven Harrington is the president of the Russell Neighborhood Association. He said he’d like to see someone work to increase responsible economic investment in the neighborhood.
“No methane plants,” he said, adding that boosting the area’s residential density would be a positive change for the struggling neighborhood.
Democrat David James is the incumbent. He’s served the district since 2010 and will look to retain his seat. He is being challenged by Democrat Carol Clark.
The district includes the Old Louisville, Algonquin, California and Park Hill areas.
“We’re looking at basic issues, as well as making Old Louisville a true destination throughout the year,” said Howard Rosenberg, chair of the Old Louisville Neighborhood Council.
Those basic issues, he said, include continuing to reduce crime along the Oak Street corridor and ensuring there is adequate housing for residents looking to move to the area.
Longtime District 8 Councilman Tom Owen announced last year he would not seek re-election. He’s held the seat since merger in 2003 and also represented the area on the Board of Alderman starting in the early 1990s.
The news of his retirement led to a flurry of filings for the seat. The district includes the Highlands, Cherokee Triangle, Belknap and Tyler Park.
The race boasts eight Democrats: William Nett, Josh White, Lynnie Meyer, Terra Long, S. Brandon Coan, Stephen Reily, Charles Wooden and Chris Kolb.
“We would be looking for someone who can help preserve the integrity of our neighborhood,” said Laura Augustine, vice president of the Belknap Neighborhood Association.
Augustine said the ideal candidate will be someone who “wants to help with beautification projects and maintenance,” as well as cleaning and repaving local streets.
Tim Holz, president of the Cherokee Triangle Association, said a vote was held at a recent neighborhood meeting to establish a committee to develop an outline of issues that are important to the Triangle.
Democrat Pat Mulvihill is the incumbent. He was elected to the seat in a special election in November.
The district includes the Germantown, Schitzelburg, Camp Taylor and Buechel areas.
To date, Mulvihill has no challengers in the race. But the Democratic primary could become intriguing.
Last year, the local Democratic Party chose Mulvihill to run in that November special election after Metro Councilman Jim King’s death. But the council instead chose another Democrat, Steve Magre, to hold the seat in the interim.
Magre represented the district for most of last year and had previously indicated that he would run to get the seat back. He hasn’t filed, however.
Update 2:10 p.m.: In an interview Monday afteroon with WFPL, Magre confirmed he would not be filing to run for the District 10 Seat. He said he’s forgoing the race to focus his energies on his family and his work with Child Care Advocates of Kentucky.
Magre added that if he was to serve again on Metro Council it would be akin to “banging his head against the wall,” as he believes the current council is not inclined to hold Mayor Greg Fischer’s administration accountable.
He also does not plan to endorse Mulvihill.
“Mulvihill and I view the job differently,” he said. “I think he’s a suck-up to the mayor.”
Phillip Kavanaugh Sr. is the chair of the Camp Zachary Taylor Neighborhood Association. He said the district is in need of infrastructure updates.
“Everything from streetlights to sewers,” he said.
Democrat Rick Blackwell is the incumbent. Blackwell began his Metro Council service in 2003 and has won re-election to the seat in 2008 and 2014.
The district includes areas along the Dixie Highway corridor, including Pleasure Ridge Park, River Park and Valley Station.
To date, Blackwell is running unopposed.
Democrat Cindi Fowler is the incumbent. Fowler has served the district on the Metro Council since 2013.
Fowler has yet to file to retain her seat on the Metro Council. A Republican, Shane Ranschaert, has filed.
Update at 9:30 a.m.: Cindi Fowler has filed to retain her seat.
The district includes the far southwestern portions of Jefferson County, including Valley Village, Riverside and the Jefferson Memorial Forest.
Republican incumbent Kelly Downard announced last year he would not be seeking re-election to the District 16 seat.
The District includes more than a dozen independent cities, such as Indian Hills, Prospect and Spring Valley.
Downard was first elected to the council in 2003. He served as president of the council in 2004 and unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2006.
Democrat Gill Holland and Republican Scott Reed have filed to fill the void the influential Downard will leave.
Republican Marilyn Parker is the incumbent. She’s served on the Metro Council since 2012.
No one has filed to challenge Parker for the seat.
The district includes the Bellemeade, Hurstbourne and Wildwood neighborhoods.
Republican Stuart Benson is the incumbent. He’s served on the Metro Council since 2003.
No one has filed to challenge Benson for the seat.
The district includes the south east tip of Jefferson County, such as parts of Jeffersontown, Fern Creek and Chenoweth Hills.
Republican Robin Engel is the incumbent. He’s served on the Metro Council since 2003.
No one has filed to challenge Engel for the seat.
The district includes areas in south central Jefferson County, such as Highview, Buechel and Heritage Creek.
Democrat Madonna Flood is the incumbent. She has served on the Metro Council since 2003.
No one has filed to challenge Flood for the seat.
The district includes areas in southern Jefferson County, such as Okolona, Highview and Fern Creek.
Democrat Brent Ackerson is the incumbent. He was first elected to the Metro Council in 2009.
No one has filed to challenge Ackerson for the seat.
The district includes St. Matthews and Bon Air Estates.
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