Louisville Metro Council will soon look dramatically different, as it will have at least seven new members after the election next Tuesday.
Four Metro Council members decided not to run for re-election this year, while two lost their primary race and Councilwoman Angela Leet, R-7, decided to run for mayor. Six of these open seats will have a contested race on Nov. 6 to name their successor.
Additionally, several incumbents on the council face a challenger from the opposing party’s nominee in what could be a competitive race.
Below is a wrap up of all the contested Metro Council races on the ballot next week, including candidates’ fundraising totals, policy issues highlighted in their campaigns and the partisan makeup and history of the district.
Metro Council District 5: Donna Purvis (D) vs. John Mark Owen (R)
Democratic Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton, who had represented the district since the 2002 merger, lost in an upset during the primary this May to Purvis. Weeks before that loss, an ally of Purvis’ campaign had filed a complaint with the Metro Ethics Commission against Hamilton, which was eventually dismissed this summer.
Purvis owns a home cleaning services company and her campaign has highlighted vacant and abandoned properties in her district, which includes much of the Shawnee and Portland neighborhoods in the northwest corner of Louisville.
Owen won the Republican nomination in this district without facing a primary opponent and has called for the city to condemn and buy up substandard halfway houses in the area. He won the endorsement of the Louisville Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), but only picked up 11 percent of the vote when he ran for this same seat against Hamilton in 2014.
Owen has criticized Purvis for skipping a candidate forum run by the League of Women Voters last month, asserting that her campaign manager Denise Bentley — a former council member whose radio show co-host filed the ethics complaint against Hamilton — would be the “shadow councilwoman” for the district if Purvis wins.
Purvis is assumed to be a strong favorite to win the race, as Democrats outnumber Republicans 8-to-1 in the district, and her 30-day pre-election filing shows that her campaign has raised over $7,000 for the general election, while Owen has not reported raising any funds.
Metro Council District 7: Kent Hall (R) vs. Paula McCraney (D)
Councilwoman Leet has served one term in the East End district that runs from Indian Hills to Creekside, which had previously been represented since the merger by Republican Ken Fleming, who now serves in the state House. Despite the Republican dominance in the district, Democrats have actually extended their lead over Republicans when it comes to registered voters by over 1,700, making up 48.1 percent of the voters to the 41.6 percent of the GOP.
Hall, who worked in the Jefferson County Clerk’s office for 27 years, won the Republican nomination without a contested primary. He says that improving the area’s congested traffic would be one of his top issues, along with posting all of his office’s expenses online for the sake of transparency. He was endorsed by Kentucky Right to Life.
McCraney, the owner of a boutique and a consulting firm, won the Democratic primary with 68 percent of the vote. She also says that improving traffic in the district will be one of her top priorities, and is endorsed by the Greater Louisville Central Labor Council (a large coalition of local labor unions), the Louisville FOP and the Fairness Campaign.
Democrats have expressed optimism that McCraney could flip the district into their hands, but the candidates’ 30-day KREF filings show that she is being outspent by her opponent. Hall spent over $8,000 at that time, while McCraney spent $2,400 and had $3,600 left.
Metro Council District 11: Kevin Kramer (R) vs. Derek Ashcraft (D)
Kramer has represented the East End district that includes Jeffersontown since the merger, despite Democrats currently having over 3,500 more registered voters than Republicans.
A high school teacher at Mercy Academy, Kramer currently serves as the vice chair of the council’s budget committee and Republican Caucus. His campaign has noted his successful push for the city budget to markedly increase the funds allocated to road paving, and he is endorsed by the Louisville FOP and Kentucky Right to Life.
Ashcraft, a social studies teacher, won the Democratic nomination without a primary opponent. His campaign has called for an increased investment in electric buses for TARC, in addition to promoting policies that would have to be changed on the state level, such as the automatic voter registration of 18-year-old high students and creating paid maternity leave.
Ashcraft has said his campaign is “standing up to the radical agendas coming out of Washington and Frankfort,” and is endorsed by the Fairness Campaign, the Greater Louisville Central Labor Council (GLCLC) and the Jefferson County Teachers Association (JCTA).
Despite Democrats’ voting registration advantage, Kramer is still assumed to be the favorite to win. In 2014, Kramer’s Democratic opponent spent $26,000 on his campaign but still lost by nearly 13 percentage points, and Ashcraft’s 30-day KREF filing showed that he had only spent $1,300 and had just $2,000 left. By contrast, Kramer’s 15-day KREF filing showed that he had spent $21,600 and had a few thousand dollars to spare.
Metro Council District 13: Mark Fox (D) vs. Jennifer Alexander (R)
Vicki Aubrey Welch has represented this South End district since 2006, but last year announced her retirement and endorsement of Mark Fox, a retired major with LMPD.
Fox has said that he would focus on combating the area’s opioid crisis if elected and is endorsed by the Louisville FOP, GLCLC and JCTA. His 30-day KREF filing states that he had spent just shy of $3,000, with $15,700 in the bank.
Like Fox, Jennifer Alexander won her party’s nomination without a contested primary. Employed as a director at Jim Beam for 18 years, she says she would mostly focus on public safety and infrastructure as a council member and is endorsed by Kentucky Right to Life.
While registered Democrats heavily outnumber Republicans in District 13, Alexander’s 30-day KREF filing showed that her campaign had spent more than Fox, though its war chest was over $5,000 lighter.
Metro Council District 15: Kevin Triplett (D) vs. Richard Brown (R)
Like Welch, Councilwoman Marianne Butler was first elected in 2006 and decided not to run for re-election this year in this district, which runs from the University of Louisville to Iroquois Park.
Butler quickly endorsed Kevin Triplett in the Democratic primary, who won the nomination with 33 percent of the vote in a tightly contested race with four candidates. Triplett had previously served as Welch’s legislative aide, and his campaign has referenced that experience in city hall and the need to improve the district’s aging infrastructure.
Richard Brown, who works in human resources at University Hospital, won the Republican primary with 68 percent of the vote. His campaign website states that he is for replacing LMPD Chief Steve Conrad and ending the city’s syringe exchange program, though he has not reported raising any money for his campaign.
Triplett is endorsed by the GLCLC and the JCTA, while Brown won the endorsement of the FOP, Kentucky Right to Life and the group of social conservative activist Frank Simon. Triplett is considered the favorite to win, as he has raised over $10,000 for the general election and there are three times as many registered Democrats in the district than Republicans.
Metro Council District 17: Glen Stuckel (R) vs. Markus Winkler (D)
Stuckel has represented District 17 since the city merger, which includes Anchorage and many other small cities in the eastern part of the county.
The owner of a residential building and remodeling firm, Stuckel’s campaign has touted his experience and success in increasing the amount of funding for road paving in the city budget.
Democrat Markus Winkler won his party’s nomination without a primary, offering a detailed platform on his campaign website that bills himself as a “fiscal conservative.” He also calls for “putting the needs of our residents above the needs of developers,” criticizing unchecked developments that having increased traffic gridlock and flooding problems.
Stuckel is endorsed by the FOP, while Winkler won the support of the Fairness Campaign, GLCLC and JCTA.
Democrats are bullish on their chances of defeating the longtime incumbent, as the candidates’ most recent KREF filings showed that Winkler’s campaign had spent twice that of Stuckel. Registered Democrats slightly outnumber Republicans in the district, though it reliably votes for Republicans in most races.
Metro Council District 19: Anthony Piagentini (R) vs. William Ackerman III (D)
Councilwoman Julie Denton declined this year to run for a second term in the East End district, which is heavily Republican.
Piagentini, a director at Wellcare, won the Republican nomination without a primary. His campaign website lists his support for alternate education models, “smart development” to decrease traffic congestion and criminal justice reform, as well as his opposition to abortion. He is endorsed by the FOP and Kentucky Right to Life.
William Ackerson III also won his party’s primary without a contested primary, but he has not reported raising any money and has run a very limited campaign.
Metro Council District 21: Nicole George (D) vs. Bret Shultz (R)
George won the Democratic nomination in the May primary, defeating current Councilman Vitalis Lanshima with over 70 percent of the vote. Lanshima had been appointed to the seat by the council late last year to replace Dan Johnson, who was expelled from the body after multiple accusations of sexual harassment.
She will face Republican Bret Shultz, a retired horse trainer who did not have a primary opponent. He has not reported raising any money and has run a limited campaign, which was further complicated by a recent WFPL report that his ex-girlfriend sought an emergency protective order against him last year. The matter was ended with a private settlement, and Shultz declined to comment on it to WFPL.
George, a social worker, has called for increasing support services for the elderly and additional measures to combat the opioid epidemic that has rocked the district. She reported raising nearly $25,000 for the general election last month, and Democrats make up almost 62 percent of the registered voters in the district.
Metro Council District 25: David Yates (D) vs. Harold Henley Jr. (R)
Yates was first elected to this southwestern district in 2010, recently serving two terms as president of Metro Council. An attorney, Yates is endorsed by the GLCLC and JCTA and has a campaign war chest of over $65,000.
It appears unlikely that Yates will have to spend much of that money, as Republican nominee Harold Henley Jr. has not reported raising any money and has run a limited campaign in the district, which is heavily Democratic.