LOUISVILLE, Ky. — For the first time since 2010, Louisville Democrats are voting in a mayoral primary that does not include an incumbent. The race to succeed Mayor Greg Fischer, who will finish his third and final term in less than a year, includes eight people vying for the Democratic nomination. Given Louisville’s liberal leanings, the winner is likely to be favored in November’s general election as well.
Some voters will cast their ballot in the primary election on Thursday, while others may remain undecided. To help them make their decision, Spectrum News 1 has spoken to four voters who have settled on each of the race’s top four candidates. Here’s what they had to say.
Janet Iler is voting for Tim Findley
After 12 years of Fischer, Janet Iler, a 60-year-old who lives in the Highlands, is ready to move on from the businessman-type of mayor.
As she evaluated candidates throughout the primary, one name stood out: Tim Findley, Jr. The pastor at Kingdom Fellowship Christian Life Center on Broadway, Findley has pledged to approach every decision as mayor with an “equity lens.” He wants to implement a universal pre-K program, eliminate fares on TARC, and launch a universal basic income program.
Like other candidates, Findley talks often about how to make Louisville safer, but Iler appreciates his focus on poverty as a root cause of crime. “I’m disgusted by the politicians that are making their campaigns about the rising crime rate, without addressing poverty and investing in people, instead of an already-funded police department,” she said.
Another factor that ultimately pushed Iler to Findley was his endorsements by prominent Black women in Louisville, including writer Hannah Drake and Urban League CEO Sadiqa Reynolds. Iler said she trusts these women because “they know what their community needs.”
Zach Stumbo is voting for Craig Greenberg
When Zach Stumbo began looking for the right mayoral candidate for him, the first thing he wanted to know was what they had to say on education issues.
“The only candidate that really speaks to it on the Democratic side is Craig Greenberg,” said Stumbo, who has a Ph.D. in education and has taught in Kentucky for eight years.
Greenberg has made education, particularly his pledge to start a universal pre-k program in Louisville, one of the main planks of his campaign. But public safety is his top priority, Greenberg says. His plan calls for hiring more police officers and increasing funding for LMPD.
Greenberg’s experience as a businessman stands out to Stumbo, who says the former CEO of 21C Hotels appears to have the skills to run the city from an “administrator’s viewpoint.”
Stumbo also praised Greenberg’s accessibility. The 39-year-old said he tweeted a question at Greenberg earlier this year and the candidate responded himself, setting up a Zoom meeting for them to talk about education and Stumbo’s reasons for moving to Louisville from Eastern Kentucky.
“I thought it was somebody from his campaign that wanted to talk to me,” Stumbo said. “I was completely shocked.”
Derrick Pedolzky is voting for David Nicholson
When Derrick Pedolzky thinks about the problems the next mayor of Louisville will face, there are three things that stand out: “crime, homelessness and getting better and more consistent with the regular running of the city,” he said.
Pedolzky, 42, is convinced that Jefferson County Circuit Court Clerk David Nicholson is the man for the job. “David’s got a proven track record of working within the system already,” he said. “He knows the ins and outs of the government, the way it’s set up, the systems, and the different departments.”
That’s precisely the message Nicholson is running on. One campaign ad touts his knowledge of the “nuts and bolts” of government. Another concludes with, “Vote experience. Vote David Nicholson for mayor.” Nicholson has also received endorsements from dozens of current and former elected officials, several of whom have praised his extensive experience.
Along with his resume, Nicholson’s campaign has emphasized his public safety plan, which includes a promise to implement community-based policing and plans to hire a civilian police commissioner.
In addressing crime and policing, and uniting the city, Nicholson simply makes sense to Pedolzky. “It’s gonna take somebody who already knows the system, knows some of the players in place, and can build that coalition,” he said.
Ahamara Brewster is voting for Shameka Parrish-Wright
For Ahamara Brewster, two candidates stood out in the Democratic primary — Tim Findley, Jr. and Shameka Parrish-Wright. She’s also got a favorite in the Republican primary — Philip Molestina. “I’m a more conservative Democrat,” the 38-year-old said.
But only one candidate can get Brewster’s vote, and it’s the one she connects with most. “Shameka is so relatable,” Brewster said of the longtime Louisville activist.
Parrish-Wright has advocated for change with a long list of local organizations, including the Kentucky Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression, where Brewster first met her, and The Bail Project, where Parrish-Wright works. The mother of six was also a central figure in the 2020 protests of the police killing of Breonna Taylor.
Brewster said she values what she sees as Parrish-Wright’s clear and ongoing commitment to working for social change. “She’s been doing her thing forever,” Brewster said. “It’s not new to her.”
Parrish-Wright is emphasizing that experience in her campaign, along with a compelling personal story that includes homelessness and the survival of gun violence. As mayor, she has pledged to build more affordable housing and intimately involve community members in her administration, among other things.
But beyond the resume and the police, Brewster said Parrish-Wright, who would be the city’s first Black mayor and its first female mayor, inspires her with her passion and her energy. ”I’ve never met a person that makes me cry, but like tears of joy,” Brewster said.