Residents will head to their local precincts on May 17 to nominate a Democratic and Republican nominee for Louisville mayor. It is the first time in more than a decade that Mayor Greg Fischer’s name will not appear on the ballot.
With Fischer term-limited, a crowded field of hopefuls is vying to replace him. The candidates are diverse in age, gender and race. Louisvillians have never elected a mayor who is not a white man, and it’s been 57 years since they elected someone who wasn’t a Democrat.
There are eight Democrats and four Republicans in the race. All who responded to WFPL News’ requests for interviews by the deadline are included in this guide.
Bill Dieruf (Republican)
Dieruf has spent the last decade as the nonpartisan mayor of Jeffersontown, an independent city in southeast Jefferson County. He’s also the immediate past president of the Kentucky League of Cities.
The 66-year-old earned an accounting degree from the University of Kentucky. He used it to help grow his family’s hardware store, which has been located in Jeffersontown since 1946.
Dieruf has been a long-time advocate for removing party affiliation from Louisville’s local races, and he said he isn’t planning to run as a Republican partisan. Instead, Dieruf said he’s focused on meeting the needs of all residents, regardless of party or where in the county they live.
“If you hit a pothole and you call the mayor’s office, you don’t care what party I am. You just want to get it fixed,” he said. “If your trash wasn’t picked up, you don’t care what party I am.”
Jeffersontown is less than a tenth the size of Louisville Metro, and Dieruf said there are a number of programs he’s implemented that he’d like to scale up. That includes the city’s Angel Program, which serves residents seeking a substance abuse treatment program.
Where does Dieruf stand on the issues? See his responses to our candidate survey.
Timothy Findley Jr. (Democrat)
Findley, 42, is the founder and senior pastor of Kingdom Fellowship Christian Life Center in the Smoketown neighborhood. He’s a Louisville native, born and raised in Newburg.
As a faith leader, Findley has helped connect local and state elected officials with communities in need. He was previously the faith-based liaison for Metro’s Office of Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods and he served on Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Transition Team.
Findley was a prominent organizer in Louisville’s 2020 racial justice protests, helping to lead demonstrations in St. Matthews and at the Kentucky Derby, among others. He said that, if elected mayor, he wants to bridge the community divides highlighted during those protests.
“My job is to talk about public safety, economic development, these big ideas,” Findley said. “But I never want to forget about the individuals who fill my church, who are still in the neighborhood that I grew up in, and say to them, ‘I’m a product of the pain and the frustration that you have.’”
You can read more about Findley’s platform in his responses to our candidate survey.
Skylar Graudick (Democrat)
Graudick, 32, is a construction and maintenance worker. Originally from New York, he’s lived in Louisville for 22 years.
Graudick’s campaign for mayor has focused primarily on public safety, an issue he said he knows well. He was a Louisville Metro police officer from 2013 to 2019. Graudick has also served as a head lobbyist for the Kentucky State Fraternal Order of Police.
“I’m directly experienced with what the actual issues are in terms of people’s number one issue, which is public safety,” he said. “I also have experience navigating and know what resources are needed to accomplish things at the state level that have far-reaching impacts at the local level.”
Graudick said he is a strong supporter of the First and Second Amendments and is running as a moderate Democrat.
Craig Greenberg (Democrat)
Greenberg, 48, is a businessman, attorney and developer. He’s the co-owner of Ohio Valley Wrestling and the former CEO of 21c Museum Hotels. Last year, he created a new firm called the Greenberg Group, focused on urban revitalization and development projects in Louisville.
A Louisville native, Greenberg left the city briefly in the 1990s to attend the University of Michigan and Harvard Law School. He returned in 1998 to work for the law firm Frost Brown Todd as a corporate attorney. Greenberg said he thinks “Louisville has been complacent for far too long,” and he’s running for mayor to change that.
“We need a sense of urgency in the city to bring people together to start implementing actions and solutions,” Greenberg said. “No more studies, no more focus groups. We all know what the challenges are.”
Since launching his campaign in April 2021, Greenberg’s vision for Louisville has focused on attracting businesses, expanding job and educational opportunities and making the city safer.
Chartrael Hall (Republican)
Hall, 34, is a minister at Quinn Chapel AME Church in Louisville’s Russell neighborhood. He’s also the cofounder of the nonprofit Get Better Every Day, which offers young people mentoring through sports.
Hall is a graduate of duPont Manual High School, and he played college basketball at Spalding University and Bellarmine University. He went on to play professional basketball in Europe before returning to Louisville in 2016.
He said this campaign is his first foray in politics and he sees that as a strength, not a weakness.
“I’m a breath of fresh air,” he said. “I feel like people are just tired and fed up, and it’s at a point where they’ve opened their hearts, opened their minds and are receptive to who’s truly here to serve us and make things better.”
Hall said, above all, he plans to engage residents in shaping local policy and the city’s future.
Colin Hardin (Democrat)
Hardin, 34, works in the hospitality and food service industry. He grew up in Louisville in the Valley Station area.
This is Hardin’s first run for political office. He said he hadn’t paid much attention to politics until the 2016 election of President Donald Trump. Then, Hardin said, he realized “politics have everything to do with you.”
“I was driving around downtown, the West End and it was dilapidated,” Hardin said. “The so-called people in charge have all-the-way left us behind. If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.”
Hardin said he understands the struggles of other working-class Louisvillians and that is what sets him apart as a candidate.
Philip Molestina (Republican)
Molestina, 60, is the founding pastor of He Visto la Luz Christian Church in Buechel. He was born in New York City, but spent much of his early life in Ecuador. He came to Louisville when he was 18 years -old to attend the University of Louisville.
Molestina said he views pastoring as a 24/7 job. He doesn’t just lead church services, he also helps meet the needs of his congregants. Molestina said his work has given him a unique perspective on Louisville and the challenges facing its residents.
“I have over 20 years in dealing with people: The ups and lows, marriages and divorces, the good jobs and losing work, and the children being born but then having addictions,” he said.
Through his work, Molestina said he’s helped connect people to services provided by the city or other community groups. He said he also a member of Norton Healthcare’s Faith and Health Committee.
David Nicholson (Democrat)
Nicholson, 65, has served as the Jefferson County District Court Clerk since 2006. He was reelected to the position in 2012 and 2018. He’s also served on the board of various nonprofits, including Kosair Charities and the Center for Women and Families.
Nicholson said he’s always been committed to public service, and was previously a Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputy. He said he learned that commitment from his late father, who was a circuit court judge.
“My parents taught me whatever you’re involved in, be the best that you could be in that,” Nicholson said. “You’ll hear me talk throughout this campaign about the importance of listening, learning, and then leading. And that’s how I’ve always tried to run my organizations.”
Much of Nicholson’s previous work and community involvement has been around victim’s rights and the criminal justice system. His campaign announcement last year focused on instituting a “neighborhood-based policing” model and creating an Office of Victim Services to assist people affected by violent crime.
Where does he stand on the other issues? Read his responses to our candidate survey.
Anthony Oxendine (Democrat)
Oxendine, 43, is the owner of Spring Valley Funeral Home, which has locations in Louisville and New Albany. He was born in Pikeville, in eastern Kentucky, but was raised in the Fern Creek neighborhood.
Oxendine has provided funeral services to victims of gun violence in Louisville, including Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police in 2020, and Tyree Smith, who was killed last year while waiting for his school bus. Oxendine said helping the families of gun violence victims is what made him decide to run for mayor.
“It’s time for a change in this city,” Oxendine said. “It’s time we get a hold of this situation. We’re not going to stop the gun violence, but we can definitely slow it down.”
Oxendine said his main focus, if elected, would be to raise the standard of living for the city’s poorest residents.
See more about where Oxendine stands on the issues here.
Shameka Parrish-Wright (Democrat)
Parrish-Wright, 45, is a community organizer and nonprofit leader. She is a Cincinnati native but moved to Louisville more than 20 years ago.
She is the Community Advocacy and Partnership Manager at The Bail Project, a national organization that pays bails for people awaiting trial and advocates for an end to the cash bail system.
A self-described “candidate for the people,” Parrish-Wright said she hopes to inspire first-time voters and people who have become disillusioned by traditional politics. She relates many of the challenges residents face to her own experiences as a mother of six, a Black woman and someone who has experienced homelessness.
“I’ve started a business. I’ve helped start nonprofits. I’ve been homeless. I went through the Urban League to get a job before. I’ve had to navigate Metro Government services to get things done,” Parrish-Wright said. “So I’ve lived their lives.”
Where does Parrish-Wright stand on the issues? See her responses to our candidate survey.
Rob Stark Reishman (Republican)
Reishman, 44, works in the health care industry. A native of West Virginia, he currently lives in Graymoor-Devondale.
He said he decided to run after the 2020 racial justice protests in Louisville. Reishman said he and his family were threatened by a man with a gun during a protest near his home. Trying to get police to investigate the crime, he said he felt like they were being hampered by politics.
“I’ve seen over and over again, where law enforcement has not been able to do their job because of how it looks, how it may be perceived,” he said. “That is one of the main reasons the homicide rate is up.”
Reishman said he wants to make Louisville a place where he and other residents want to raise their children. This is his first time running for public office, and he said he’s not taking any campaign donations so he won’t owe anyone favors.
Sergio Alexander Lopez (Democrat)
Lopez did not respond to WFPL News’ request for an interview. He lives in South Louisville.