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Metro Council appoints Ben Reno-Weber to represent Louisville’s District 8

Ben Reno-Weber raises his right hand
Roberto Roldan
Ben Reno-Weber was sworn in as a Louisville Metro Council member immediately following Thursday night's vote.

In a contentious vote Thursday night, Louisville Metro Council members appointed Ben Reno-Weber to represent District 8 on the legislative body.

The district includes neighborhoods in the Highlands, as well as much of the Bardstown Road business corridor. Reno-Weber is the deputy director of the University of Louisville’s Health Equity Innovation Hub. A self-described “social entrepreneur,” Reno-Weber led Microsoft’s Future of Work Initiative, a partnership between the company and Louisville Metro Government that sought to make the city a regional hub for artificial intelligence and data science.

More than 20 people applied to fill the District 8 vacancy. During candidate interviews earlier this week, Reno-Weber said he thinks Louisville is in a “really interesting moment” of flux.

“We have a new mayor,” he said. “Remote work is changing our downtown, our Highlands, our Crescent Hill, and we’re still trying to figure out as a city who we’re going to be in that post-COVID environment.”

Reno-Weber said he believes the biggest issues facing the city are public safety, economic development and infrastructure. He said he’s interested in being a champion for improving and expanding Louisville’s 911 deflection pilot program, which allows trained mental health professionals to respond to some emergency calls rather than police officers.

“I think how do we empower police to be focused on the issues that we really need them to be focused on and create resources for our community to be addressing those who are largely struggling with substance abuse and houselessness,” he said.

On economic development, Reno-Weber said the city could do a better job of helping coordinate resources available to residents interested in starting a business.

In order to secure the appointment, a candidate had to get 13 votes or a majority of the 25 remaining representatives on Metro Council. It took council members five rounds of voting before Reno-Weber crossed that threshold Thursday night. He narrowly defeated Jo Lloyd-Triplett, senior leadership development manager at the non-profit Leadership Louisville Center.

Reno-Weber replaces Cassie Chambers Armstrong, who won a special election last month for a state Senate seat. Chambers Armstrong will finish out the final two years of Morgan McGarvey’s term after the former state senator won election to the U.S. House of Representatives last year.

Chambers Armstrong was elected to the Metro Council in 2020. She authored legislation increasing access to child care and providing a “right to counsel” for low-income families facing eviction.

In the case of a vacancy on Metro Council, state law requires the remaining council members to select a replacement by majority vote. Reno-Weber will represent District 8 until a special election is held in November.

Two other Metro Council seats, District 3 and District 6, will also be on the November ballot after David James and Keisha Dorsey resigned from elected office to take senior positions within Mayor Craig Greenberg’s administration.

There will not be a primary ahead of the General Election. Instead, local Democratic and Republican party officials will select their nominees.

A number of Metro Council members have characterized the process for filing vacancies as “undemocratic.”

Both chambers of the Kentucky General Assembly approved a bill this week that will require an open special election within 60 days of a seat becoming vacant. The Metro Council president would be allowed to appoint a replacement only if there are fewer than three months until the next scheduled election.

House Bill 191 was authored by Republican Rep. Jared Bauman of Louisville and heads next to Gov. Andy Beshear to be signed.

Correction: A previous version of this story did not provide the correct details about Reno-Weber's place of work.

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

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