October 21, 2008

The Metro Council stroll

Thirteen seats, five unopposed. Who (and what) you’re voting for

A STAFF REPORT *Denotes incumbent  District 2 Barbara Shanklin (D)* This incumbent once again beat repeat council candidate Yvonne Woods in the primary. She secured funding for a guinea-pig hi-tech library in her district, and is not a fan of gangs, considering the amount of time and money she’s spent trying to increase people’s awareness of them. A pretty good on-the-ground advocate for Newburg, she nonetheless hasn’t been taken seriously since her piss-poor presidency of the council in 2005.  Most resembles: your favorite Sunday school teacher  District 4 Henry Owens III (R) This guy has completed exactly zero candidate questionnaires and doesn’t have a website or any discernable means of direct contact, so you’re on your own. But we think he’s the son of former Louisville Alderman Henry Owens.  Most resembles: his father … we’re guessing David Tandy (D)* Tandy represents the largest chunk of downtown, including the part where all the money is going into condo development and such, as well as a few western neighborhoods where none of that money is going. He co-sponsored a questionable (that’s being kind) ordinance to push the homeless out of downtown. Tandy has been touted as a future mayor; given he doesn’t take too many public stances on controversial issues, it’s a good possibility. That said, he’s youthful, energetic and ambitious, and has been involved with the Obama campaign. D.C. here he comes?  Most resembles: a chubby Terrence Howard  District 6 George Unseld (D)* Edged out Ken Herndon in a shady primary involving a ninth-inning homophobic flier that clearly cost Herndon the game. He’s been a leading proponent of the Fairness Campaign and its attendant issues since the 1990s. Health problems have limited his council involvement. Oh, and he also tarnished his legacy by trying to ban “panhandlers” from downtown.  Most resembles: a tall, black John McCain James Bamforth (I) Tired of seeing council incumbents running unopposed, Bamforth threw his hat in the 6th District race, and his campaign has focused primarily on the problem of crime in Old Louisville. It’s not much of a platform and he doesn’t seem enthusiastic, but the premise is right — there are too many unopposed races. Being that he’s a bartender at Carly Rae’s with no political experience, we’re wondering what sort of nasty mailer will slime Bamforth at the last minute.  Most resembles: with no public photo and no press appearances, he’s susceptible to the McCain attack line — who is the real James Bamforth? District 8 Tom Owen (D)* This darling of the Highlands is running unopposed, so we won’t waste too much space. A Louisville historian, he’ll probably hold this seat as long as he wants, despite his recent stance opposing Wayside Christian Mission’s efforts to move into the old Mercy Academy on East Broadway, which abuts his district.  Most resembles: Donald Sutherland with a beard  District 10 Jim King (D)* A councilman (and council president) with obvious mayoral ambitions, the guy who once proposed banning plastic bags and has called for a re-examination of light rail in Louisville is often seen tooling around town in his monster Ford Excursion SUV. Something of a puppet-master whose authority as a public official sometimes appears to mix with his position as a private banker (King Southern Bank) and developer, he once tried to buy a house out from under Brooklawn to prevent a home for troubled teens from coming to his ’hood, all to appease his constituents … ahem … neighbors.  Most resembles: street tough/mob boss  Bryan Shepherd (R) A rabid Ron Paul supporter, this political newcomer is hoping to oust “big government Democrat” Jim King. However, leading up to the primary, he only spent $360, compared to King’s $45,000. Good luck with that.  Most resembles: a rugby player  District 12 Rick Blackwell (D)* He’s a long-winded moderate whose term as council president was marred by two forays into the ultimately futile: a half-ass smoking ban and a half-ass dog ordinance, both of which had to be made legal with subsequent legislation. This year, he brokered a last-minute backroom deal with Jim King to live out his post-presidency glory days as chair of the Democratic caucus.  Most resembles: a teacher at a Catholic high school (which, of course, he is) Dwight Witten (R) A typical South End alarmist and former-DJ on 93.1FM The Fox, he’s taken the Doug Hawkins approach to city politics, instilling fear and rousing the rabble over issues such as the administration’s proposal to store ammo on Cardinal Hill in south Louisville (schlock jock anyone?). During the campaign he’s played up the “the city hates you because you’re not downtown” shtick native to this region of the city. You may have seen his stickers … because they’re everywhere.  Most resembles: an assistant high-school football coach  District 14 Bob Henderson (D)* Most infamous for his involvement in a whistleblower case that’s cost MSD a few hundred thousand of your dollars, Henderson was finally cleared of the above-mentioned by the Metro Ethics (sic) Commission after a four-year “investigation.” On the positive side, he is a retiree and spends most of his time on constituent concerns, and he’s a team player for the Democrats.  Most resembles: a member of the Louisville Metro Council Jennifer Denise Wood (I) Daughter of Jack Wood, a perennial candidate for local offices who ran in the Democratic primary for this very council seat and lost. Wood is in her early-20s and has loads and loads and loads of legislative (or life) experience.  Most resembles: your sorority sister  Norman Pepper (I) He is the owner of Pepper Tackle, and he’s running because he was pissed many months ago about an ordinance that limited the size of the sign for his store. Pepper is also a Republican running as an independent because he’s a procrastinator and didn’t file in time.  Most resembles: aggrieved South Ender and/or bait shop owner  Bob Heuglin (R) A business associate of developer Chris Thieneman, a guy whose own political past includes a start-stop, start-stop run for Congress. Heuglin is a train-engineer-turned-realtor (seriously) and a union man running as a Republican (whoa, paradox!).  Most resembles: a bald man getting a haircut (credit: www.bobheuglin.comDistrict 16 Kelly Downard (R)* The bane of Mayor Abramson’s existence, he questions everything that comes across the council’s desk. He is perhaps most famous for his two-year effort to make the much-ballyhooed dog ordinance into something that is actually legal, and most recently, he applied the brakes to the railroaded Center City project. He can also be a little caustic, and hysterics suit him well.  Most resembles: another old white dude  Arthur Hoffman (D) If you’ve ever voted Green Party you should probably vote Hoffman. If elected, he would attempt to broaden public transit options. Otherwise, it appears Hoffman thinks he’s running against John McCain. His interests include cycling, running, birding and other generally hippie activities.  Most resembles: Santa, trimmed high and tight  District 18 Jon Ackerson (R)  Career politician: Ackerson served 21 years in the Kentucky General Assembly and six years on the J-Town council. During the primary, Ackerson accused his opponent of stealing his signs; she in turn accused him of being a stalker. Awesome.  Most resembles: a used-car salesman/another old white dude  District 20 Stuart Benson (R)* His tendency to ramble incoherently at times notwithstanding, Benson was a proponent of a new traffic light plan in Eastern Jefferson County that would make for fewer traffic jams and less general aggression in the worst place to drive in the world. He’s a joiner with the Republican caucus. Otherwise, do you know who Stuart Benson is? After six years on the council, we still don’t.  Most resembles: your high-school shop teacher District 22 Robin Engel (R)* Engel is a well-mannered business dude who has been an advocate for development in his district (except when it could’ve led to dense low-income housing) and, frankly, he has a pretty good sense of humor for someone at City Hall. He helped strip breed-specific language from the ill-fated dog ordinance, which is good. Engel also digs the bridges project and opposed the library tax, which is not so much.  Most resembles: standard-issue business Republican  District 24 Madonna Flood (D)* Flood once used her position on the planning and zoning committee to keep an adult bookstore out of her neighborhood. As chair of aforementioned committee, she also has attempted to block free speech in zoning cases. And lost. She’s vice-chair of the public safety committee at the moment, and she’s typcically a joiner with her caucus.  Most resembles: your mom  R. Scott Weddle (R) A transportation consultant by trade, he is anti-big government, and according to his Facebook page, pro-drinking. Interests include: bourbon, whiskey, Scotch, Irish whiskey, country music, American Idol, politics and Thomas Jefferson.  Most resembles: man shouting, pounding table at sports bar District 26 Graham Honaker (R) As the ambitious legislative aide to Councilman Kevin Kramer, R-11, Honaker’s move to council candidate was a predictable leap. Kramer-junior is a fresh Republican with an upbeat attitude, along with the standard party-line positions, like increased public safety, constituent service, improvements to the district and fiscal responsibility. Good thing.   Most resembles: a young Dan Quayle  Brent T. Ackerson (D) This attorney-at-law and moderate Dem has a considerable war chest and electoral smarts as a former candidate for district judge. His matchup against Honaker makes the District 26 race the one to watch (oh please let war between these two wonks result in actual fisticuffs). His Republican dad is running in District 18.  Most resembles: captain of the debate team Griffin Torrence (I) This third-party candidate probably doesn’t stand a chance, but his positions sound good, albeit a little reminiscent of a college student. And chances are he’ll be a spoiler in this showdown. The tech-savvy candidate wants to bring more business to the city and preserve historic districts.  Most resembles: Booger from “Revenge of the Nerds”