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Metro Council member, education activist vie for Louisville senate seat

View facing west of the Louisville skyline, Ohio River, bridges and parts of the Great Lawn at Waterfront Park.
Ryan Van Velzer
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LPM
The special election for state Senate District 19 will wrap up on Tuesday, Feb. 21.

With former Democratic state Sen. Morgan McGarvey now in Washington, D.C., Louisville voters will decide who will finish out the nearly two years remaining in his term in Frankfort following a special election starting this week.

Lawyer and Democratic Metro Council member Cassie Chambers Armstrong is facing off against former school board candidate Misty Glin, a Republican, in Senate District 19. That district includes parts of Louisville’s urban core around the Highlands and southern suburbs like Hollow Creek and Spring Mill.

In-person, no-excuse absentee voting begins Thursday, Feb. 16 at twelve locations across the district. The special election will end Tuesday, Feb. 21.

Courtesy Cassie Chambers Armstrong
Cassie Chambers Armstrong

Chambers Armstrong has represented neighborhoods in the Highlands as the District 8 Metro Council member since 2021. Originally from eastern Kentucky, Chambers Armstrong came to Louisville after graduating from Harvard Law School in 2015. She’s a mother of two young boys and an associate professor of law at the University of Louisville. As a council member, she’s advocated for funding and programs aimed at helping women and families.

A mother and corporate training manager for a pharmacy in Louisville, Glin ran unsuccessfully for the Jefferson County Board of Education last year. Glin received 46% of the vote against District 6 incumbent Corrie Shull, running on a platform of increasing police presence in schools and giving parents “a louder voice in their childrens’ education.” In 2020, Glin was active in local conservative groups that organized against mask mandates, remote learning and classroom discussions about systemic racism.

Education

In a recent interview, Chambers Armstrong said she plans to continue to advocate for improvements to early childhood education. She supports Gov. Andy Beshear’s Education First Plan, which would raise teacher salaries and fund universal access to pre-kindergarten programs.

“I believe that is the path forward,” she said. “I don’t believe the path forward is attacking our public school employees, attacking our public school system and some of the rhetoric we have seen coming out of Frankfort in recent years.”

While Glin did not respond to interview requests for this story, she’s previously said that education would be her top priority.

“I believe we can all agree that our public education system is a disaster,” Glin said via email last month. “Somehow with unprecedented funding, our students are falling further behind than ever before.”

Misty Glin
Courtesy of the Jefferson County Republican Party
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Courtesy of the Jefferson County Republican Party
Misty Glin

On her campaign website, Glin said she supports school choice initiatives such as charter schools and publicly funded savings accounts that parents can use for private school education, known as educational opportunity accounts. She said she’s also in favor of having school resource officers and metal detectors at public schools and will support any legislation that “gives parents more voice and choice in their child’s education.”

Public safety

Public safety has become the No. 1 concern of local officials in Louisville as the city has experienced a spike in homicides and violent crime over the past three years.

Glin said she supports stronger criminal penalties, particularly for those who traffic drugs, and wants state government to help communities attract, train and retain police officers.

In a recent interview with WLKY, Glin said she’s also interested in taking a reformative approach to incarceration.

“We want to make sure that you’re making good choices and that we’re rehabilitating these criminals instead of putting them back on the street,” she said. “We’re making sure they are good for our society.”

Chambers Armstrong, meanwhile, said she would like to focus on passing “common sense gun measures” in the General Assembly. She supports a bipartisan proposal from 2019 that would have allowed courts to temporarily take away someone’s right to own a gun if law enforcement or family members considered them to be a danger to themselves or others, otherwise known as a “red flag” law.

Chambers Armstrong also plans to advocate for changing Kentucky’s prohibition on local governments regulating guns.

“We need to give the city of Louisville more authority to solve Louisville’s problems,” she said. “[The state law] is very broad and it means some of these common sense solutions that we have seen other local governments be able to do we can’t even consider.”

Democratic state Rep. Josie Raymond of Louisville introduced a bill earlier this year that would do just that. It has yet to get a committee hearing.

Economic development and working across the aisle

If she’s elected, Chambers Armstrong would join a Democratic caucus that is far outnumbered by Republicans. Democrats currently hold just six out of 38 seats in the Kentucky Senate.

Chambers Armstrong acknowledges it’d be a different environment than the one she’s used to — Democrats have just short of a two-thirds majority in Metro Council — but she said she’s used to working collaboratively.

“I’ve sponsored over 80 ordinances and resolutions that have become law, and all of those except for one have passed with bipartisan support,” she said.

Chambers Armstrong said she thinks her experiences growing up in poverty in eastern Kentucky before moving to Louisville will help her bridge an urban-rural divide she sees in state politics.

In addition to education reform and public safety, Glin said her focus is on improving economic development in Louisville and other parts of the state. She says on her campaign website that she wants to help eliminate “unnecessary regulations and mandates that hurt existing businesses.” Glin supports the General Assembly’s efforts to eliminate Kentucky’s income tax and would like to see the legislature repeal the state ban on sports betting.

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Roberto Roldan is the City Politics and Government Reporter for WFPL. Email Roberto at rroldan@lpm.org.