In less than a week the Louisville Metro Council will vote for a replacement to fill the 6th District seat that was left vacant by the sudden death of George Unseld, but the lobbying for the position behind closed doors is getting rougher.
The council will have 16 different applicants to choose from when they vote June 30. The council clerk confirmed that three have been declared ineligible by the Jefferson County attorney — Carol Bowman, Paula Johnston and Giavannai Lusco — and one candidate, Barney Sutton, has withdrawn.
In this week’s edition of LEO, we focused on a handful of candidates who are favored to be Unseld’s would-be successor. Running the appointment much like a political campaign, former council candidate Ken Herndon has been a bumblebee of activity.
Earlier this week, he received the endorsement from the Fairness Campaign’s political action committee. Yesterday the California Jets football program, which serves over 125 children ages 5-13 annually, also endorsed his appointment to the council.
At the end of the day, however, the selection is left up to a majority vote of the council and that’s where applicants have been focusing their lobbying efforts. And three different sources have confirmed with LEO Weekly that the five remaining African-American members of the council are informally meeting with a handful of the black applicants seeking to fill the 6th District seat.
In telephone interviews with LEO, Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin, D-2, and Councilman David Tandy, D-4, two of the black members of the council, wouldn’t confirm that those meetings have been scheduled. Both said the remaining applicants — black and white — are jockeying to replace Unseld and that they’ve talked with them.
“Sure, I am willing to talk to some of them for a few minutes for a meet and greet. However, I’m not willing to do any interviews right now,” says Shanklin, adding no forum amongst the African-American members of the council was organized. “Among the five of us nobody is on the same page and we all have different opinions of the applicants.”
All of the council members have been lobbied for the seat by applicants and their supporters at one point, but particular interest has been put on the applicants race due to comments made by Louisville NAACP President Raoul Cunningham, who said it’s important that an African-American retain the 6th District seat to maintain minority representation on the council.
It’s unclear if diversity will play a role in their decision making as some city lawmakers are waiting to interview all the applicants at next week’s special meeting and are keeping opinions of them close to their chest.
Others, however, aren’t bashful about sharing their choice to replace Unseld.
In a voicemail message left at LEO’s offices, Councilman Dan Johnson, D-21, confirmed that he’s supporting Herndon to fill the 6th District seat due to their longtime friendship. While each council member has their own prerogative in the matter, others have said it’s important to weigh the candidates on their merits before making a decision too hastily.
“I’m waiting for the interview process to begin,” says Tandy. “Anybody saying who they would vote for at this point in time, prior to having even heard from any of the candidates is premature. And I don’t think it’s a responsible approach to it.”