© 2024 Louisville Public Media

Public Files:
89.3 WFPL · 90.5 WUOL-FM · 91.9 WFPK

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact info@lpm.org or call 502-814-6500
89.3 WFPL News | 90.5 WUOL Classical 91.9 WFPK Music | KyCIR Investigations
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Stream: News Music Classical

Metro Council District 3 candidate appealing Democratic nomination

The downtown Louisville skyline.
Ryan Van Velzer
Louisville Democratic Party officials will meet Wednesday to consider the appeal.

The Louisville Democratic Party may have to redo its nomination process for the Metro Council District 3 special election after a candidate filed an appeal claiming the vote was improper.

Late last month, the party’s nominating committee selected Jefferson County Public Schools teacher Kumar Rashad to be its nominee in the November special election. Rashad is already serving on the local legislative body, after being appointed by Metro Council earlier this year to temporarily fill the District 3 seat vacated by Keisha Dorsey.

Metro Council District 3 covers the independent city of Shively, as well as the Taylor Berry, Cloverleaf and Hallmark neighborhoods in western Louisville. The seat will be up for election again in 2026.

Courtesy of Shameka Parrish-Wright
Shameka Parrish-Wright

Activist and VOCAL-KY Director Shameka Parrish-Wright, who also applied for the Democratic nomination, recently appealed the party’s decision. Parrish-Wright’s lawyer, Ryan Fenwick, said the nominating committee violated Kentucky Democratic Party bylaws when it voted by a secret ballot rather than a weighted vote system.

“What I believe they need to do is hold the entire process over again following the bylaws with regard to how the votes are tallied,” Fenwick said.

The basis of the appeal

Fenwick pointed to Article X, Section B-3 of the KDP bylaws, which states “all votes of the Nominating Committee members will be proportionate to the number of registered Democrats at the preceding General Election.”

In Metro Council District 3, local party officials in Legislative Districts 38, 40 and 44 make up the nominating committee. Under the weighted system, the votes of officials who represent districts with more active Democrats count for more.

In this case, party officials in Legislative District 40 would have accounted for 62.8% of the final vote, Louisville Democratic Party Board Chair Virginia Woodward. That means a candidate could become the nominee by winning the support of those representatives. The votes of officials in Legislative District 38, on the other hand, were worth just 2.29%.

Instead of using the weighted system, the nominating committee chose to vote on March 31 by a secret ballot where the winner was chosen by simple majority.

Rashad, who was named the nominee, declined to comment for this story, his legislative aide said Tuesday.

What the Democratic Party says

Woodward confirmed to LPM News that the nominating committee voted by secret ballot rather than a weighted system when selecting the District 3 candidate. Because the vote was secret, it’s unclear if the method of voting changed the outcome.

Woodward said “it’s unclear to the [Kentucky Democratic Party]” whether the committee can just decide on its own which voting method it wants to use.

Lawyers from the state party are providing guidance on the bylaws, Woodward said. She insisted that “everything was done above board” and that the opportunity for appealing the nominating committee’s vote shows the process is democratic.

“It’s everybody’s right that if you don’t like the way it goes, you can appeal,” Woodward said. “We try to be as transparent as we possibly can.”

Woodward said local party officials will hold a hearing on Parrish-Wright’s appeal Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will take place at the Louisville Democratic Party headquarters, 831 S. 6th Street, and will be open to the public.

Local officials will decide whether to forward the issue to the state party — or send things back to the nominating committee to redo the process. That would mean holding another round of interviews with qualified candidates and voting again.

The Jefferson County Republican Party has not yet fielded a candidate for Metro Council District 3. Executive Director Malcomb Haming said Tuesday they are hoping to nominate someone toward the end of May.

Democratic candidates in Louisville have complained about the local party’s nominating process in the past, saying inadequate communication leads to missed deadlines and confusion.

The local parties are also choosing candidates for two other Metro Council seats that will be on the ballot for special elections on November 7.

Voters in Metro Council Districts 6 and 8 will select representatives to serve through the end of 2024. Former Metro Council President David James, who represented District 6, resigned at the start of the year to take a senior role in Mayor Craig Greenberg’s administration, while District 8’s Cassie Chambers Armstrong is now in the state Senate.

The Louisville Democratic Party selected Phillip Baker to serve as their candidate for Metro Council District 6. Baker currently represents that district on Metro Council after receiving the temporary appointment in February. The local Democratic Party will hold interviews for the District 8 seat next month, Woodward said.

This story was updated after Kumar Rashad's legislative aide confirmed the council member would not comment for this story.

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

Can we count on your support?

Louisville Public Media depends on donations from members – generous people like you – for the majority of our funding. You can help make the next story possible with a donation of $10 or $20. We'll put your gift to work providing news and music for our diverse community.