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Shameka Parrish-Wright gets Democratic nomination for Metro Council election

Shameka Parrish-Wright, manager of the Louisville Bail Project and candidate for Louisville's mayor, speaks to supporters of Breonna's Law outside the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort.
J. Tyler Franklin
Shameka Parrish-Wright, activist and director of VOCAL-KY, speaks to supporters of Breonna's Law outside the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort in 2021.

Over the weekend, the Louisville Democratic Party chose activist and VOCAL-KY director Shameka Parrish-Wright to be its nominee for the Metro Council District 3 special election in November.

The party’s nominating committee had previously picked Jefferson County Public Schools teacher Kumar Rashad to be the Democratic nominee. But that vote was overturned last week following an appeal by Parrish-Wright, who argued votes were improperly counted. A redo of the selection process Saturday ended with Parrish-Wright winning the nomination.

In an interview with LPM News, Parrish-Wright said she’s excited to bring her own life experiences — as a Black woman, a mother and someone who experienced homelessness — to Metro Council.

“My rent on this earth is to inspire who I can and lead by example,” Parrish-Wright said, alluding to the famous Muhammad Ali quote. “I’m somebody that’s been impacted by all of the issues we’re fighting against, from homelessness to poverty to food deserts, and even environmental racism.”

Parrish-Wright ran for mayor last year. She lost the Democratic primary to Craig Greenberg, who is now mayor.

Metro Council District 3 covers the independent city of Shively, as well as the Taylor Berry, Cloverleaf and Hallmark neighborhoods in west Louisville. The seat was vacated by Keisha Dorsey in January, after she took a senior role in Mayor Craig Greenberg’s new administration. The remaining council members appointed Rashad to fill the seat until the special election on November 7.

While Parrish-Wright has focused her work and activism on the big issues affecting Louisville, she said she’s also ready to help city government do the little things right: making sure trash is collected, the streets are clean and neighborhoods feel inviting.

“I have six kids and three grandkids out here running these same streets, living in these same neighborhoods,” she said.

What comes next?

Following Saturday’s vote, Parrish-Wright announced her victory on Twitter and expressed her willingness to work with Rashad while he represents District 3 this year. But she said she’s also preparing for any other challenges to her nomination.

Parrish-Wright was selected as the nominee only after hiring a lawyer and filing an appeal. She argued the local party violated the Kentucky Democratic Party bylaws when the nominating committee voted in March by a secret ballot rather than a weighted vote system.

Article X, Section B-3 of the KDP bylaws state that “all votes of the Nominating Committee members will be proportionate to the number of registered Democrats at the preceding General Election.” Under the weighted system, the votes of officials who represent districts with more active Democrats count for more.

Party officials voted last Wednesday to throw out the initial vote by secret ballot and ordered a new vote using the weighted system. When the nominating committee took a weighted vote on Saturday members chose Parrish-Wright as the nominee.

Rashad said Monday he is planning to contest the nomination. Trevin Bass, Rashad's legislative assistant, said Monday night the council member had to postpone a scheduled press conference on the matter. Bass did not immediately respond to a question about whether Rashad's plan to appeal had changed.

Candidates can appeal to the state party, which has the final word in this case, according to Louisville Democratic Party Vice Chair Logan Gatti.

Democratic candidates in Louisville, including Rashad, have complained about the local party’s nominating process in the past, saying inadequate communication leads to missed deadlines and confusion. Rashad told the Courier Journal last month he feels the process was not inclusive.

"It definitely seems like some cherry-picking is going on," he said.

The Jefferson County Republican Party has not picked its candidate yet for the Metro Council District 3 race.

Special elections for Metro Council District 6 and 8 will also be held on November 7, coinciding with the regular election for statewide offices, after those representatives resigned to take other posts earlier this year.

The Louisville Democratic Party selected Phillip Baker as the candidate for Metro Council District 6. A family resource coordinator at Coleridge-Taylor Montessori Elementary, Baker was temporarily appointed to fill that seat in February. Party officials plan to interview candidates for the District 8 election later this month.

This story was updated to reflect new information related to Kumar Rashad's plans to appeal.

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

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