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Highlands Race Goes To Wire; Council Incumbents Go Unbeaten

S. Brandon Coan
S. Brandon Coan

Louisville Metro Council incumbents went unbeaten in Tuesday's primary election. And in a razor-close race, attorney S. Brandon Coan bested entrepreneur Stephen Reily by only 125 votes in the Highlands' District 8.

David James, a Democrat representing District 6, and Barbara Shanklin, a Democratic representative in District 2, each fended off challengers to hang onto their seats. With no Republicans in either race, it is likely they'll both retain their seats in November.

James won with a little more than 57 percent of the vote against business owner Carol Clark. District 6 includes Old Louisville and parts of Park Hill and California.

Shanklin took nearly 48 percent of the vote against challengers Rasean Crawley, Caroline Grundy and Richard Harrison. District 2 includes Newburg and West Buechel.

In an interview on Tuesday, Shanklin said her upcoming fifth term would be her last, although she stressed she still has work to do.

"What I want to do is finish up with the community center for the youth and put programs in for the youth, because there is so many things we need to do for the kids," she said.

Shanklin said she'll also work to improve the area's infrastructure and reduce the stock of vacant and abandoned houses in the district.

Councilman Bill Hollander, chair of the Democratic caucus, said he's happy the incumbents held their seats.

"We've got a great group of Democratic colleagues," he said.

District 4

Barbara Sexton Smith won the District 4 Democratic primary with more than 65 percent of the vote.

She'll replace incumbent David Tandy, who announced earlier this year he wouldn't seek re-election. No Republicans are vying for the seat, so it seems likely Smith will take the reigns in November.

District 4 stretches from Shelby Park to the Waterfront and from Butchertown west to Russell.

Smith is a former president of the Fund for the Arts and serves on more than two dozen boards and commissions across the city. She said she'll strive to be a "hands-on" council member and engage people across the district.

"I'm a very hands-on operator," she said. "I will simply lead this with a vision of total inclusion, and anyone and everyone that wants to participate will be here, there's a place at the table for everyone."

She said the biggest challenge facing the district is a lack of jobs.

"Neighbors are asking that we please bring these jobs into all areas of District 4," she said.

Councilwoman Angela Leet, a Republican from District 7, attended a party for Smith on election night. She said Smith "will be fantastic."

"She'll come charging in wanting to learn what she doesn't know already," Leet said. "She'll be great at it."

District 8

S. Brandon Coan (pictured atop this story) emerged as the winner in the crowded Democratic primary race for the Metro Council's District 8, which encompasses the Highlands.

Longtime incumbent Tom Owen announced last year he wouldn't seek re-election. The news sparked a flurry of interest in filling the seat. No Republicans entered the race, and it appears likely Coan will now take the seat in November.

Coan, an attorney, claimed a little more than 24 percent of the vote to be declared the winner of the seven-candidate field.

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

Stephen Reily, an entrepreneur and founder of the West Louisville FoodPort, finished second in the race with 23 percent of the vote. He lost by only 125 votes.

Chris Kolb, a Spalding University professor, finished third with 20 percent of the vote.

"We had seven great candidates in this election," Coan said.

He said he'd look to organize the district's neighborhood groups and residents in the coming months in an effort to create a district advisory board.

"We have subject matter experts from A to Z that live in this community," he said.

Coan added he'll push for more civic engagement from residents.

"I hope my career as a council person will be about getting more people involved and sharing power," he said. "We need to create more leaders and share more responsibility."

Hollander attended a party for Coan shortly after his victory was finalized. He said he'll make "an excellent councilman."

Republican Council Primaries

Shane Ranschaert won the District 14 Republican primary by just four votes over Eric Bullock.

"I was like, thank you Jesus, thank you Lord, and we're just very thankful and very mindful that every vote does count," he said.

Ranschaert, 21, will move on to face incumbent Cindi Fowler in the November general election.

Scott Reed won the District 16 primary with about 72 percent of the vote. He bested Chip Sobel and will face local businessman Gill Holland in November's general election.

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

Holland and Reed are seeking to replace outgoing councilman Kelly Downard, who announced last year he'd not seek re-election.

Leet, a member of the minority Republican caucus, said the race between Reed and Holland will be tight. She said while she supported Reed in the primary, she declined on Tuesday to offer her full support to Reed in the general election, saying she has a "friendship and business relationship" with Holland.

"I look forward to working with whoever gets in in November," she said.

Jacob Ryan is the managing editor of the Kentucky Center for Investigative reporting. He's an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.

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