Metro Louisville

Louisville Metro Council Member Jessica Green announced last week that she’s resigning from her post representing District 1, a majority Black district that includes parts of the Chickasaw, Parkland and Park Duvalle neighborhoods. 

Gov. Andy Beshear appointed Green to a vacant Jefferson County Circuit Court seat, which means she will be leaving a vacancy of her own on Metro Council. She’s expected to officially resign on Feb. 17, after attending her final Council meeting.

That will set in motion a series of deadlines for applications, consideration by other council members and a final vote on a replacement. Here’s how that process will play out:

A new application

Metro Council voted Thursday night to make some changes to the way residents interested in filling vacancies can apply for the job.

Typically, council rules require candidates to turn in their resumes to the Metro Council Clerk’s office within seven business days of a resignation. In the case of Green’s District 1 seat, that would be Feb. 28. 

That deadline will still hold true, but Metro Council added another step to the process. Prospective candidates now also have to submit an application that asks for their date of birth, where they live and how long they’ve lived there. State law requires any candidate to be at least 18 years old, a qualified voter and to have lived in the district for at least one year.

At Thursday’s Metro Council meeting, Democrat Markus Winkler of District 17 said the application will make weeding out unqualified candidates easier. The additional information will “enable the County Attorney to better conduct background checks,” he said.

Council members say there was a tedious back-and-forth between the Clerk’s office and candidates when filling vacancies in the past, because that personal information wasn’t always provided on resumes. That bogged down the selection process, which has tight deadlines.

The last time Metro Council members had to deal with a vacancy was last January, when District 25’s David Yates resigned from his position representing South End neighborhoods to become a state senator.

Thirty days for deliberation

Kentucky law requires Metro Council to fill a vacancy within 30 calendar days of a resignation. 

Metro Council President David James, a Democrat who represents District 6, said the council will likely hold a special meeting in mid-March to interview candidates and try to come to a consensus on a replacement. He expects the final vote to be held on March 17.

James said he will personally be looking for a candidate who is an advocate for the residents of District 1. 

“I’m looking for someone that cares about the community and is passionate about their city,” he said. “Someone who has some knowledge of how government works: there’s an executive branch, there’s a legislative branch and all that.”

Under state law, a majority of Metro Council members will have to agree on a replacement. If they can’t do so within 30 days, Mayor Greg Fischer would have the opportunity to appoint someone.

It’s important to note that Democrats have a 19-member supermajority on the 26-member Metro Council. The outgoing District 1 representative, Green, is also a Democrat.

Despite that, James said the selection process will be bipartisan and the seven-member Republican caucus will be included in all conversations.

“Every time we’ve done this, we’ve talked to the Republican Caucus about what their thoughts were on the applicants and what they thought about the interviews, just like we do with the Democrats,” James said. “All potholes are purple.”

Whoever is selected to replace Green will serve out the remainder of her term through the end of 2022. Five residents — one Republican and four Democrats — will compete for the seat in the upcoming May primary and the General Election in November. Those candidates could also apply to hold the seat temporarily, too.

Roberto Roldan is the City Politics and Government Reporter for WFPL.