The ugly battle between the Blacks and the Gays for the Metro Council 6th District seat grew in ferocity Monday, as openly-gay Ken Herndon announced he is running as a write-in independent candidate in the November general election. This announcement by former-Democrat Herndon was in response to the July 29 selection of African-American and former Fraternal Order of Police president David James by the Jefferson County Democratic Party as its nominee for the special election to determine who will serve the remaining two years of Councilman George Unseld’s term. Unseld died last month and the Council appointed independent Deonte Hollowell to fill the seat.
Herndon said he would file his official paperwork Tuesday, and indicated he had decided to run against his former party’s nominee, “…after much thought and considerable encouragement from many supporters, neighborhood leaders and party officials.” In his statement, Herndon said: “The Democratic Party promised the voters of the 6th District an open process. Instead they got back-room deal making by a panel of party insiders — none of whom reside in the 6th District. Since the passing of our friend, Councilman George Unseld, the residents of the 6th District and their wishes have been consistently ignored. That night, they were literally locked outside the door. The result was an unfortunate choice made for the wrong reasons in a tainted process. The people of the 6th District deserve better. And, that’s why I’m running.”
James, the Democrats’ nominee, was selected by a nine-member panel, with each member representing part of the 6th District. Members’ votes were weighted, depending on the number of voters they represented. James’s nomination came after two rounds of voting in which no candidate won the necessary support.
As we previously reported, much of the racial tension was generated by the local NAACP’s demand that the 6th District seat needed to be filled by an African-American. And Louisville’s Fairness Campaign endorsed one of its co-founder’s, Ken Herndon, who is white and openly gay. Herndon narrowly lost to Unseld in the 2008 Democratic primary.
Louisville NAACP President Raoul Cunningham insisted to Courier-Journal’s Dan Klepal that Unseld’s replacement in the 6th District be black. Cunningham said it was of “paramount” importance for the council to elect an African American to replace Unseld. He said proponents of merger promised the African-American community that blacks would occupy at least six seats on the new council. “The African American community must hold them accountable for that sixth seat,” Cunningham said. “We will be very, very upset” if that doesn’t happen.
Back on July 1, after an epic five-hour struggle, University of Louisville Pan-African Studies professor Dr. Deonte Hollowell, a registered Independent, was selected by Louisville’s Metro Council members to fill the 6th District vacancy, on the 34th ballot. He was put forward as a compromise candidate by Councilwoman Judith Green (Dem., 1st Dist.) when a stalemate developed in the voting process between Neeka Parks-Thompson and Ken Herndon.
Dr. Hollowell denied that his race was a factor in his selection by the Metro Council. “It’s important to the degree that my experience as an African-American have (sic.) some sort of uniqueness, but I don’t think it was a determining factor in people who voted for me,” said Hollowell, “I think people saw my passion for the community, my spirit as a whole and people were accepting of that.” Hollowell filed last week to run in the November general election as an independent candidate for the 6th District seat.
One week after the Metro Council selected Holloway, eight council members got together to endorse Herndon for the 6th District position. They were joined in a public announcement by the following Democrats:
Former State Representative and Congressional Candidate Eleanor Jordan
State Representative Mary Lou Marzian
State Representative Ron Weston
Former B District Commissioner Dolores Delahanty
President, Democratic Woman’s Club of Jefferson County, Mary Allgeier
Councilman Brent Ackerson
Councilman Rick Blackwell
Councilwoman Judy Green
Councilman Bob Henderson
Councilman Dan Johnson
Council President Tom Owen
Councilwoman Tina Ward-Pugh
Councilwoman Vicki Aubrey Welch
Former Alderman and Metro Councilman Cyril Allgeier
Former Alderman Jim Gravatte
Former Alderwoman Mary Margaret Mulvihill
28th District Vice-Chair, Steve Bittenbender
29th District Vice-Chair, Chris Brady
33rd District Vice-Chair, Kim Greenwell
34th District Vice-Chair, Anne Lindauer
Despite this show of political support for Ken Herndon, the Jefferson County Democratic Party selected David James as its nominee in the November general election.
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