Mayor-elect Greenberg announces Louisville Metro leadership team
When Louisville Mayor-elect Craig Greenberg takes office next month, the leadership team that will help him manage more than 5,000 employees and a nearly $1 billion budget will be stacked with some familiar faces.
Greenberg announced the members of his executive team, who will oversee everything from emergency services to public health, during a press conference Tuesday morning. The group includes four current and former Metro Council members, all Democrats.
Metro Council President David James, who intended to run for mayor before dropping out of the primary due to health concerns, will oversee emergency services including fire, EMS and the jail. District 3 Council Member Keisha Dorsey will serve as Greenberg’s Deputy Chief of Staff.
Barbara Sexton Smith, a former council member and CEO of the nonprofit Fund For the Arts, will be Greenberg’s second-in-command as Deputy Mayor, overseeing any new offices the administration creates and serving as a top advisor. While all of Greenberg’s top appointees have “deputy mayor” in their titles, Sexton Smith would become interim mayor if Louisville Metro’s top office becomes vacant. She said last year she had considered a run for mayor, but decided instead to support Greenberg.
In announcing his executive team, Greenberg spoke directly to the thousands of city employees who have had the same boss, outgoing Mayor Greg Fischer, for more than a decade.
“I understand that this time of change can create some uncertainty,” he said. “I appreciate your patience as we work through this transition period and launch our administration to move Louisville in a new direction.”
District 21 Council Member Nicole Goerge, who opted not to run for re-election this year, will serve as the head of public health and services. George is a trained social worker who represented her South End district for the past four years.
Dana Mayton, currently the district director for retiring Democratic United States Rep. John Yarmuth, will oversee the city’s operations and budgets. David Kaplan, a commercial litigation attorney and former assistant attorney general of Kentucky, has been tapped to be Greenberg’s chief of staff and general counsel.
Kaplan is a partner in a law firm that has represented LPM News in public records-related issues and conducted legal reviews of stories.
A ‘new direction’?
Since winning the General Election in November, Greenberg’s main message has been around “moving Louisville in a new direction.” The official website for the mayoral transition is newdirectionlouisville.com.
Many of his appointments and advisors so far, however, have been people involved in local politics for years. Last week, he announced that Jacqueline Gwinn-Villaroel will serve as the interim police chief when Erika Shields resigns next month.
Shields recruited Gwinn-Villaroel to Louisville from the Atlanta Police Department, where she’s served as deputy chief of the Louisville Metro Police Department since Feb. 2021. Both women came up as officers together, even serving undercover as a team.
“We taught each other; we were yin and yang,” Gwinn-Villaroel told Louisville Magazine in a profile of Shields last year. “I like to say for Erika and myself, what she lacked was my strength, and vice versa. We fed off one another.”
Asked by reporters Tuesday whether the familiar cast of appointments fits with the “new direction” mantra, Greenberg said he sees the phrase as “a mindset” and “a sense of urgency.”
“Everyone up here has incredible, meaningful experiences that are going to inform their job as we move forward,” he said. “But just because they have experience doesn’t mean that they aren’t ready to move Louisville in a new direction.”
Greenberg asked residents who may be skeptical of his new administration to give them the opportunity to start addressing the biggest issues facing the city, like violent crime, a lack of affordable housing and the need for universal access to pre-K programs.
Impact on Metro Council
Tuesday’s announcement means Metro Council will have to fill two vacancies after Greenberg is sworn-in on Jan. 2. Under state law, the remaining representatives on Louisville’s 26-member legislative body will choose the replacements. Metro Council is expected to accept applications and hold public interviews for the seats.
Dorsey was re-elected just five weeks ago and her replacement will serve essentially her entire four-year term. James has two years left in his third term representing District 6 after being re-elected in 2020.
In his new role as Deputy Mayor of Emergency Services, James will oversee Louisville’s troubled downtown jail. Twelve people died in custody of Metro Corrections in less than a year, starting last November. The Department’s former director, Dwayne Clark, retired in April following votes of no confidence from Metro Council and his own officers.
James said that he plans to address leadership, understaffing and subpar conditions at the jail “much better” than it has been.
“A lot of [the problems] have to do with engagement and to make sure that we treat residents of the jail in a way that we protect, but we also make a point of protecting the staff,” he said.
At Tuesday’s press conference, Greenberg reiterated that public safety will be his top priority as he assumes office.
“We cannot simply police our way to safety,” he said. “My administration, all of us up here today, will be working with the community, will be working with city agencies on what we could do to address this epidemic that is plaguing our city.”
Louisville Metro has seen record-breaking numbers of homicides and gun violence in recent years, and 10 people were killed in the first 12 days of December.
This story has been updated.