When Republican Hal Heiner filed as a candidate for Louisville mayor, it meant he would have to give up his 19th District Metro Council seat at the end of the year. Now, four candidates are seeking to replace Heiner on the council.
The 19th District starts just east of Hurstbourne Parkway and stretches past the Gene Snyder to the northeastern border of Jefferson County. It’s a location that Heiner says is poised for development, and he hopes his successor on the council understands that.
“The 19th District is one of the top two districts in the county in terms of growth,” he says. “So growth is important, having a familiarity or willingness to jump into the planning and zoning process and understand that process.”
One of the three Republican contenders for Heiner’s seat is Daniel Osborne, who was vice-chair of the local Young Republicans last year. The father of five says he has a keen interest in family-related issues, but it was the district’s growth potential that brought him into the race.
“We have development going on without a lot of planning,” says Osborne. The build first, plan later mentality that we’ve gone through in the last few years needs to be addressed. Along with water pressure issues, there’s traffic flow issues in my area.”
The 19th district also contains a lot of land protected from development. And Heiner says the district’s eventual representative should understand how that property fits into the big picture.
“You know, a background relating to parks and open spaces is important. District 19th will be the trailhead for another 20 miles of the Louisville Loop, that will run down the 21st Century Park,” he says.
“I have until last August served on the board of the Kentucky State Parks Association, that I founded when I was commissioner of Kentucky State Parks,” says Republican candidate Jerry T. Miller.
Miller was parks commissioner during Governor Ernie Fletcher’s administration. He also just wrapped up a four month stint as chairman of the Jefferson County Republican Party. He says voters should look to his experience when they choose a new councilman.
Rounding out the Republican primary ballot is Kaven Rumpel, a businessman and retired police detective who moved to the district last April. He touts support from various business and labor leaders…and like Osborne and Miller, lists job creation and government transparency among his top issues. He says he’ll take Heiner’s program to post city checks online and expand the concept.
“They’re alleging downtown, by showing the check it’s transparency,” says Rumpel. “I’ve done bank fraud and worked a lot of banks, looking at their books, and it’s not transparency. You have to have the books, you have to have the bank statements and the checks. That’s transparency.”
The winner of the Republican primary will face a political newcomer in November. 21-year-old Democrat Justin Chelf doesn’t have a primary challenger, so he’s focused on the general election. Chelf says it may be easy for his opponents to dismiss him because of his age, but he plans to use it to his advantage.
“The younger people are the ones who are creative,” says Chelf. “Younger people are the ones who have all the ideas. Young people are the ones who have all the ideas and want to get somewhere.”
Chelf runs a small web design and internet marketing business and says he’s more knowledgeable about 21st century jobs than any of the Republican candidates. He’s also running as a Democrat in a district that has traditionally favored GOP candidates.
Heiner says he won’t endorse anyone in the race, and he declined to comment on any individual candidate. But he does say the key to victory is not campaign rhetoric or even a lot of money, but shoe leather, knocking on the doors of 19th District.
“Back when I first ran in 2002 and walked the district door-to-door twice,” he says. “That’s really what’s required for any candidate to be successful.”
And while there are different strategies for campaign events, fundraisers and getting the message out, each candidate says he plans to follow Heiner’s advice and walk the district, asking for votes, one-by-one.