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Your 2016 Primary Voter Guide: Louisville Races

Louisville City Hall
J. Tyler Franklin
Louisville City Hall

Tuesday is primary Election Day, when Kentucky voters will determine their Democratic presidential nominee and major party candidates for U.S. Senate and House, as well as a variety of state House and Senate races.

There are also some hotly contested Metro Council races in Louisville.

Because Kentucky has closed primaries, you can only vote in the races of the party under which you’re registered. Polls open at 6 a.m. local time and close at 6 p.m., and results should start rolling in a little after 7 p.m. Eastern, when polls in the western part of the state close. We’ll have live coverage at wfpl.org.

You can find your polling place and check out sample ballots here.

And you can check out our voter guide for federal races here.

This year’s Metro Council primaries mark a sea change for the city’s legislative body, as veteran local lawmakers vacate their seats in several influential districts and a crop of upstarts looks to take over.

Thirteen of the council’s 26 districts are up for re-election, although only six are contested. And among those, three are tight races. And in each of those, the outcome of the primary will likely determine the result in November, as no Republicans are running. Democrats hold a 17-9 majority on the council.

District 2

The district goes east from Preston Highway to include Newburg and areas surrounding GE Appliance Park. It also includes Poplar Hills and Buechel.

Four-term incumbent Barbara Shanklin is facing three Democratic challengers in her first race since allegations of ethics violations in 2013 nearly ended her political career. RaSean Crawley, Caroline Grundy and Rick Harrison are running against Shanklin, and they’ve each positioned themselves as agents of change. They’ve called Shanklin out of touch and compromised, charges she brushes aside.

Hear what we found when we asked residents what they want from their next council member here.

District 4

This is one of the most economically varied districts in the city. It includes parts of NuLu and Butchertown, downtown and Shelby Park, Smoketown and Russell. The district is at once the center of Louisville’s economic development and home to some of its poorest neighborhoods, and the issues there stretch from economic development and new business to the rise in violent crime and the future of Beecher Terrace.

For the past decade, David Tandy has represented the Fourth District, including a stint as council president. When he surprised many by announcing his retirement earlier this year, four candidates – since whittled to three – jumped in the race.

Barbara Sexton Smith, Bryan Burns and Marshall Gazaway are running for the seat. It appears the contest will come down to Smith or Burns, both of whom have been campaigning hard in the past several weeks. Smith has positioned herself as someone with access to decision-makers on the economic development front, while Burns is running as a representative for neighborhoods, touting his support for affordable housing and other street-level issues.

Hear what we found when we asked residents what they want from their next council member here.

District 6

The district – which includes Old Louisville, Park Hill, California and Algonquin – is represented by Democratic Councilman David James. He has a primary challenger in barbershop owner Carol Clark. But her campaign has been less visible, and James remains a relatively popular representative in the district.

District 8

Tom Owen has represented the Highlands on the Metro Council since the legislative body’s inception in 2003. When he announced his retirement, seven Democratic candidates jumped at the chance to fill the vacancy.

The liberal district is home to some of the city’s more affluent and historic neighborhoods, and its residents are engaged in the process (some 300 people showed up for a recent debate). The seat has the potential to be a new center of power on the Metro Council.

Here are the candidates: S. Brandon Coan, Chris Kolb, Terra Long, Lynnie Meyer, Stephen Reily, Josh White and Charles Wooden. All but Wooden have run visible campaigns, from yard signs and bumper stickers to detailed mailers like Kolb’s and slick web videos from Coan, Reily and Meyer.

(Disclosure: Coan is a member of Louisville Public Media's board of directors.)

And with the exception of some inevitable neighborhood-level whispering, they’ve run positive campaigns.

Hear what we found when we asked residents what they want from their next council member here.

District 14

The district includes the far southwestern portions of Jefferson County, as well as Valley Village and Riverside. Incumbent Cindi Fowler, who was first elected in 2012, is unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Republicans Shane Logan Ranschaert and Eric Bullock are running to represent the party in the general election in November. Ranschaert, 21, is a youth pastor at New Salem Baptist Church. He told The Courier-Journal his top priorities are generating new economic development for the district and addressing a growing drug problem, which has led to an uptick in crime.

Bullock is retired from the Metropolitan Sewer District and has run a very low-profile campaign with no web presence.

District 16

The departure of veteran Councilman Kelly Downard opened up this seat for the first time since the council was formed. Downard has long been a leader among council Republicans and served as the body’s president – even under a Democratic majority.

On the Democratic side, developer and businessman Gill Holland – who led the revitalization of NuLu – is running for the seat. Holland is touting a platform of “nonpartisan collaboration” and cites his long record of helping create public-private partnerships to expand economic development opportunities in the city.

(Disclosure: Holland is a member of Louisville Public Media’s board of directors.)

Republicans Scott Reed and Chip Sobel are facing off to represent the party in the general election.

Reed is a founder of the Louisville Tea Party and vice president of sales at V.G. Reed & Sons, his family’s printing business. Chip Sobel is the former owner of the Comedy Caravan on Bardstown Road. Both are running on platforms to increase government accountability and bring more businesses to the city.

No Challengers

Incumbents with no challengers are Pat Mulvihill, D-10; Rick Blackwell, D-12; Marilyn Parker, R-18; Stuart Benson, R-20; Robin Engel, R-22; Madonna Flood, D-24; Brent Ackerson, D-26.

Stephen George is President and CEO of Louisville Public Media. Email Stephen at sgeorge@lpm.org.

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