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Democratic Rep. Josie Raymond is leaving the state legislature, but not politics

Rep. Josie Raymond, D-Louisville, speaks about House Bill 153 an Act relating to prohibiting the enforcement of a federal ban or regulation of firearms and declaring an emergency on the House floor.
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Rep. Josie Raymond, D-Louisville, speaks about House Bill 153 an Act relating to prohibiting the enforcement of a federal ban or regulation of firearms and declaring an emergency on the House floor.

One of the few Democrats in the Kentucky legislature announced she will not run for reelection next year, and will instead run for Louisville Metro Council’s District 10 seat.

Former Democratic state Rep. Mary Lou Marzian filed her candidacy for the 41st District in Louisville just before the announcement.

Democratic Rep. Josie Raymond has served in the state house since 2019 and is one of only 20 Democrats in the 100-person Kentucky House of Representatives.

Raymond initially represented District 31 before the Republican-led legislature drew new political boundaries during last year’s redistricting process. That move threw her into the same district as then-Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, who held the seat for nearly three decades. The state SupremeCourt is currently deciding whether Kentucky’s redistricting maps are legal after a lawsuit from Democrats.

Marzian bowed out before the election, and in 2022 Raymond handily won the primary and general election for the 41st District, which includes portions of the Highlands, Clifton neighborhood and Strathmoor Manor in Louisville.

But Raymond said she no longer felt she was making enough of an impact at the statewide level as a member of the Democratic Party, which she said has gone from a minority to a “super minority” in the state.

“I think I can have a lot more efficacy on the Metro Council,” Raymond said. “I'd like to join the majority that's working to better people's lives. And I've really seen the most impact in the last several years happen at the local level.”

Louisville Metro Councilman Pat Mulvihill, a Democrat, currently represents Metro Council District 10 but announced he will not run for reelection. That opening prompted Raymond to make a change.

After Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s reelection victory, Raymond said she believes the party is “beginning to climb back up” in statewide offices, but it’ll be a long road. And her time in the legislature has been demoralizing.

“While I've been in Frankfort the last five years, I've seen continuous attacks on abortion rights, continuous attacks on LGBTQ people, continuous attacks on labor unions — things that I really care about,” Raymond said. “I have fought them as hard as I could. It's been very taxing, and I think now is the time for some other bold voices to step up.”

Raymond said she only recently decided to step down, but is confident someone who represents her district's values will take her place.

In an interview, Marzian said she wasn’t quite ready to retire in 2022.

“I wanted a younger person to have [the seat] at that time,” she said.

Raymond said she spoke with Marzian to ask if she was ready to “go back into the wood chipper.” Marzian said that, if she’s elected, she would be going in with clear eyes but high spirits.

“I'm an eternal optimist. And I'm hopeful that we can reach across the aisle,” Marzian said.

So far, no one besides Marzian has registered with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance for the 41st District, but the deadline remains open until Jan. 5, 2024.

Raymond will continue to serve in her role through the next legislative session, which includes deciding the biennial budget. She said she will continue advocating for her district until she is done serving her term.

“We have the largest budget reserve trust fund we've ever had, we are more than capable of making smart investments,” Raymond said.

Raymond said in her final legislative session she hopes to address things specific to her district, like fixing the pool at the Kentucky School for the Blind, while making significant progress in statewide issues like increasing health care access, improving the state’s ailing foster care system, and creating more affordable housing.

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Sylvia is the Capitol reporter for Kentucky Public Radio, a collaboration including Louisville Public Media, WEKU-Richmond, WKU Public Radio and WKMS-Murray. Email her at sgoodman@lpm.org.