Metro Council appoints longtime resident fill District 1 vacancy
Democrat Angela Bowens, 55, will represent residents of Louisville's District 1 on Metro Council until early January.
Bowens, who currently works as an accounts receivable manager at the psychiatric residential treatment center Uspiritus, received a majority of the votes from sitting Metro Council members Thursday night.
She’ll serve out the rest of Jessica Green’s term after Green was appointed by Gov. Andy Beshear to a vacant Jefferson County Circuit Court seat. Green resigned in mid-February after representing District 1 since 2015. The district includes historically Black neighborhoods in west Louisville, such as Chickasaw, Park Duvalle and Parkland.
Bowens was sworn in immediately following the vote. She thanked the Metro Council members in attendance.
“To Jessica [Green], I will do the best to continue what you have done here,” she said. “I definitely want to represent District 1.”
In addition to her work at Uspiritus, Bowens volunteers with Jefferson County Public Schools. She was also a member of the Leadership Louisville Class of 2021, a professional development program for community leaders.
During interviews on Monday, Metro Council members asked Bowens and the other candidates about their experience and top priorities. Bowens said she wants to focus on reducing crime in District 1 and improving the relationship between the community and the police.
“My house was shot up about six months ago,” she said. “We have to find some way to communicate with each other, because the bottom line is crime is like cancer, it spreads. The only way to stop it is to address the issue and make everyone accountable.”
Bowens also said she thinks Louisville Metro can do more to provide job opportunities and programming for the city’s youth.
She said, as a lifelong resident of District 1, she’s seen the area change for better and for worse.
“It’s very hard to stay there when you can go, but my heart is there,” she said. “And I know there’s hope there.”
Bowens beat out 10 other applicants who were certified as eligible by the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office. Two candidates, Dustin Cox and DuWayne Gant, withdrew from the running prior to the final vote.
Concerns about influencing the upcoming election
Bowens will represent District 1 for the remainder of Green’s term, which ends in early January, when the winner of November’s general election is sworn in. All of the odd-numbered districts are up for election this year, though only seven are contested races.
There are currently five candidates for the District 1 seat: one Republican and four Democrats. Bowens is not one of them.
Three of those candidates applied for the temporary appointment but were unsuccessful. That may be due, in part, to some Metro Council members’ concerns about giving an advantage to someone running for office.
During the Monday interviews, District 17’s Markus Winkler, the Democratic Caucus chair, asked each of the applicants whether they believed appointing someone in the running for the District 1 seat would give an unfair advantage.
“If people see their name out there, they’re going to lean toward that person role,” said applicant Victor Keye, who is not on the ballot. “I do believe that whoever takes this role as interim will have a little bit of a leg up.”
Even some of the applicants who are campaigning for the District 1 seat, like Democrat Richard Whitlock, Jr., said it would give a candidate momentum, which is important in elections.
Prior to Thursday night’s vote, District 4 Council Member Jecorey Arthur, a Democrat, said he had similar concerns and would not vote to appoint someone running in the upcoming council elections.
“I strongly believe that the voters within District 1 need to be selecting who their elected representative is,” Arthur said. “We talk about democracy a whole lot, and that’s what that looks like.”
The four Democrats in the race will face off in a primary on May 17. The winner will be on the ballot against the lone Republican candidate, Charlie Bell, in November.