Council picks Hollowell to fill 6th District seat

After more than seven hours of deliberation, the Louisville Metro Council voted 17 to 7 for University of Louisville professor Deonte Hollowell, a registered Independent, to replace the late George Unseld and fill the vacant 6th District seat.

The 31-year-old Pan-African Studies professor is the youngest member of the council and is also an adjunct instructor at Spalding University and Jefferson County Technical College. After the vote was announced, Hollowell, who was in attendance earlier that night, drove to City Hall and was immediately sworn in by Chief Circuit Court Judge Barry Willett.

He will serve until the end of the year.

“After a couple of votes I thought it was over,” says Hollowell. “But I never counted myself out.”

The appointment comes less than three weeks after Unseld’s sudden death. The longtime city lawmaker died earlier this month shortly after collapsing in his office.

The selection of Hollowell is the first Independent member to serve in the council’s history since it formed when city and county governments merged in 2003. Hollowell told LEO Weekly he intends to caucus with both Democrats and Republicans.

However, Hollowell will face another hurdle before the end of the year.

For the Nov. 2 general election, the Jefferson County Democratic and Republican parties will each pick a nominee to run in the fall. The winner of that race will serve out the remainder of Unseld’s term through 2012. And a source tells LEO that the local Democratic party leadership is bound by its by-laws to pick a nominee. Hollowell, however, said he will run in the fall election.

From WFPL:

Councilman Jim King — who voted several times for (former council candidate Ken) Herndon, then for Hollowell — thinks Hollowell’s tenure on the council will be brief.

“He can certainly file for election this fall as an independent, but I believe that the Democratic Party will pick a candidate who will prevail in the fall,” he says.

Initially, council members had said the seat should remain Democratic, but after several stalemate votes a compromise was eventually reached.

“We were at an impasse and we had two choices to compromise or let the mayor appoint the position and we felt it was our duty to reach a consensus,” says Councilwoman Madonna Flood, D-24, who is majority leader of the Democratic caucus. “I welcome Dr. Hollowell to the council.”

And it’s definitely a welcomed surprise for Hollowell, who celebrated his 31st birthday July 1, but is eager to get to work.

“I definitely look forward to the challenge, I have a meeting at some point so I’ll be here early to serve the 6th District,” says Hollowell.


  1. tas1978
    Posted June 30, 2010 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations to Deonte Hollowell. He lives three doors up from me.

  2. Steve Magruder
    Posted July 1, 2010 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    Three thoughts:

    1) This is a GOP-forced result, but probably only delays the inevitable taker of this seat, Ken Herndon. Why their fear of Herndon?

    2) If the Democratic Party stiffs Herndon as well, I think many would consider that a near-crime.

    3) As an independent myself, I am thrilled that one is now there, even if briefly. It opens a door.

  3. Phillip M. Bailey
    Posted July 1, 2010 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    1. It was a GOP/African-American Democrat coalition throughout the night that forced a compromise.

    2. “If the Democratic Party stiffs Herndon as well…” I don’t know if he was robbed because there’s no established formula for who Unseld’s successor should have been. The only thing that mattered was 13 votes.

    3. It is historic to have an Independent on the council. It’ll be interesting if third party and other independents who complain about both parties flock to support Hollowell in the upcoming general election.

  4. James
    Posted July 2, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    You and Channel 32 news say he teaches at JCTC. In two C-J articles I read that he teaches at U of L. Where does he really teach full time?

  5. Molefi Kete Asante
    Posted September 1, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Dr. Deonte Hollowell is an excellent choice for this seat and I would hope that the good people of Louisville will see fit to keep him in office. He brings a fresh, new, dynamic, and youthful insight into the problems of urban areas.