Metro Louisville

With the District 1 Metro Council seat vacant since Jessica Green left to become a judge last month, 10 Louisville residents have applied to be her replacement on the legislative body.

Whoever is appointed will represent the far west district that includes the historically Black neighborhoods of Chickasaw, Park Duvalle and Parkland. The candidates are expected to face questions from other Metro Council members during a special meeting this afternoon at 4 p.m. 

A majority of council members will have to agree on a replacement when they take a final vote to fill the vacancy on Thursday. If they fail to do that, Mayor Greg Fischer will have an opportunity to appoint someone.

Green, who represented District 1 since 2015, officially resigned in mid-February after she was appointed by Gov. Andy Beshear to a vacant Jefferson County Circuit Court seat. Green announced last fall that she would not pursue re-election, and will run for a different Circuit Court seat later this year. 

The person appointed to replace Green would serve out the remainder of her term through the end of 2022.

Who are the applicants?

Three of the ten residents who applied to replace Green — Charlie Bell, Kathleen Parks and Richard Whitlock, Jr. — are already registered to run for the District 1 seat in an election later this year. Parks and Whitlock are running in a four-person Democratic field, meaning they’ll have to participate in a May primary. 

According to her resume, Parks is a lifelong resident of Louisville, growing up in the Smoketown and Parkland neighborhoods. Her uncle, Raymond Parks, was a YMCA executive and president of the Parkland Alliance neighborhood association.

“Reflecting on what the neighborhood used to be, it was a beautiful and safe neighborhood for the kids to be,” Parks wrote in her application. “That’s why I am the leader that should occupy this seat. I understand the history of our city, neighborhoods and the leaders that came before me.”

Parks said she’s long been committed to civil and human rights, creating the first diversity initiative at the Louisville Fund for the Arts in the 1990s and teaching social justice-focused courses as an adjunct professor at local universities. Parks is a Jefferson County Commissioner in District C, a mostly ceremonial position that allows its elected members to advocate for various policies and projects.

Like Parks, Whitlock is also a local activist. His work has focused on preventing gun violence in Louisville. 

Whitlock said in his resume that he is a violence prevention coordinator with Interfaith Paths to Peace. Until 2021, he was the founder and CEO of The Gap Felony Prevention Program, which ran an after-school program for west Louisville public school students. He’s also an organizer with the anti-violence group M.O.M.S, or Mothers of Murdered Sons and Daughters.

Bell, who is the only Republican in the race, is the recovery program manager at Goodwill Industries of Kentucky and is the former director of the Boys and Girls Club of Kentuckiana, according to her application. She’s lived in the Park Duvalle neighborhood for a little more than a year.

It’s unclear if the fact that Bell, Parks and Whitlock are already running in the District 1 race will help or hurt their applications to fill the vacancy until someone is sworn in for a full, four-year term in January. 

Metro Council President David James told WFPL News last month that he was concerned about giving an advantage to a particular candidate by giving them a temporary appointment. 

“I really want those citizens of District 1 to pick who their representative is,” he said. “If we add weight to the scale on one particular individual, that’s not really them picking.”

The other seven candidates who have applied for the position include:

  • Angela Bowens, who is an accounts receivable manager at the psychiatric residential treatment center Uspiritus. Bowen is also a volunteer member of the JCPS School-Based Decision Making Council and was selected for the Leadership Louisville Class of 2021, a professional development program for community leaders.
  • Kevin Wigginton, is a 17-year resident of District 1 who works at the Chestnut Street YMCA as the senior director of the New American Center, which helps engage the city’s immigrant community. He earned his Master of Business Administration from Bellarmine University in 2006.
  • Arub Hasan, a 20-year resident of Park Duvalle. Hasan retired last year from JCPS, where he taught life skills courses at Liberty Alternative High School. 
  • Dustin Wayne Cox, who is the executive director of S.O.U.L Clinic of Kentuckiana, a nonprofit providing peer support and other services to people who are chronically homeless, unemployed, or have emotional or mental illness. Cox was appointed a Kentucky Colonel by Gov. Steve Beshear in 2008, according to their resume.
  • Victor Keye, is a business relations specialist with the Louisville Urban League. Keye said he is responsible for creating partnerships with businesses that provide job opportunities for clients.
  • DuWayne L. Gant, who was a special education teacher with JCPS from 1996-2006 and is a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.
  • Derrick L. Robinson, a 26-year resident of the Parkland neighborhood and a retired JCPS security officer.

Resumes for each of the applicants for District 1 vacancy can be found on Metro Council’s website.

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