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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Council Members Defend, React to Parker’s Surprise Victory

Louisville Metro Council members are having mixed reactions to Tea Party candidate Marilyn Parker defeating Republican incumbent Jon Ackerson in the District 18 primary race.

Earlier this year, a majority of GOP council members backed Parker over Ackerson after claiming the one-term city lawmaker too often sided with Democrats in key debates. On the council, Ackerson was considered a bipartisan member willing to work with both parties and was favored to win the contests.

But Parker worked the neighborhoods diligently and was able to oust Ackerson from office by a razor-thin margin of 37 votes in the east Louisville district.

Councilwoman Tina Ward-Pugh, D-9, says she doesn’t want to dismiss Parker and wants to welcome more women to the council, but that Parker’s controversial remarks over the years and Tea Party affiliation raise questions.

“Her cohorts around this town and around the country haven’t in my opinion shown their willingness to work across the aisle and not work in absolutism, in my way or no way,” she says. “So unfortunately she probably has that baggage coming in with her.”

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Tea Party Candidate Defeats Incumbent Jon Ackerson In Metro Council Upset

Tea Party challenger Marilyn Parker defeated incumbent Metro Councilman Jon Ackerson in a tight Republican primary in the 18th Council District.

The contest caught observers’ attention after most GOP council members endorsed Parker over Ackerson, claiming the incumbent sided with Democrats in key debates. Ackerson led most of the night Tuesday, but final counts showed Parker beating the incumbent by 37 votes.

Parker will face Democrat Teague Ridge in the fall campaign, but the district is heavily Republican, making Parker the early favorite in the general election.

Parker says she wants to see major cuts to council discretionary spending and tighter ethics rules.

“One of the first things that I would like to address is the slush funds since we have a $20 million budget shortfall right now. I would like to address the slush funds, the discretionary spending that each council member has at their disposal,” she says.

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Ackerson Squares Off Against Tea Party Challenger in District 18

In the Louisville Metro Council District 18 race, Republican voters will choose between incumbent Jon Ackerson and Tea Party activist Marilyn Parker in Tuesday’s primary.

The race has caught local attention after the majority of GOP council members endorsed Parker over Ackerson. Council Republicans have said Ackerson has sided with council Democrats too often on several issues and have criticized their colleague as self-serving and untrustworthy in the past.

Ackerson says he is a conservative Republican, adding he will let voters decide if his bipartisan work on the council deserves re-election.

“I don’t know what the vote is going to be on Tuesday, but I’m confident in the sense that I have done the kind of job that was expected of me by the constituents that I represent,” he says. “All 16 of the suburban cities that I represent every mayor has publicly endorsed me for election because of the work that I’ve done on behalf of Metro Government.”

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Ackerson Rips Council GOP for ‘Litmus Tests’

Calling them “juvenile” and “petty”, Louisville Metro Councilman Jon Ackerson, R-18, is lashing out at his Republican colleagues for endorsing a Tea Party challenger in the upcoming GOP primary.

Six of the eight remaining Republican councilmen publicly support Marilyn Parker over Ackerson and have alleged he sided with Democrats on several issues after receiving preferential treatment during redistricting. Both Ackerson and Democratic leaders deny the allegation, but Republican Caucus Chairman Ken Fleming, R-7 told WFPL Ackerson can’t be trusted with fulfilling the party’s agenda.

Ackerson says he has been a lifelong Republican, but the partisanship that has created gridlock in Washington and Frankfort is now in the council.

“Ken Fleming, our leader here in Jefferson County wants a radical right Tea Party person to serve rather than someone that’s willing to work with not only Republicans but with Democrats on issues of common concern,” he says.

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Council GOP Divided Over Parker Endorsement

Louisville Metro Council members’ endorsement of candidate Marilyn Parker over incumbent Jon Ackerson, R-18, in this year’s primary has created a rift in the caucus, but GOP staffers are downplaying the division.

Six of the eight remaining Republican members have publicly supported Parker, a former congressional candidate and Tea Party activist who has flirted with controversial issues in the past.

Several GOP members have alleged Ackerson has undermined their agenda over the past four years. Only councilmen James Peden, R-23, and Stuart Benson, R-20, are not backing Parker.

Minority Caucus Director Stephen Haag says council Republicans will remain professional and focused on serving their constituents, despite the endorsement.

“The Metro Council is used to having people on both political sides and divisions and discussions with people who have differences in opinion on political issues. I’m hopeful that we will not have any problems within the caucus or on the council related to the upcoming election, whether it’s primary or general,” he says.

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Council Candidates Feature Notable Activists

Candidates for the Louisville Metro Council in next year’s election include a Tea Party activist, real estate agent and unemployed trucker driver.

In Metro Government history, voters have unseated only three incumbents. In 2006, Judy Green beat Leonard Watkins in District 1 in the Democratic primary. Last year, Democrat David Yates beat Republican Doug Hawkins in a close race and Democratic David James unseated independent Deonte Hollowell.

Community activist Curtis Morrison is running against incumbent Councilman Tom Owen, D-8, in the 2012 Democratic primary. He says challengers need to highlight their vision and the council backing down to the mayor’s office.

“We need a Metro Council with some courage that will stand up to and be a check and balance on the mayor and not just go along with whatever he wants. And I’ve seen vote after vote where they just go along with the mayor no matter who the mayor is. Seems like they just go along and I don’t think that’s the way this is supposed to work,” he says.

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Local News

JCPS Board Approves Higher Tax, Discusses Transportation Issues

The Jefferson County Board of Education Monday night approved its third consecutive property tax increase to help fund public schools. The money will go toward textbooks, employee raises and new construction.

The increase adds about three cents to the tax rate. Property owners will now pay just under 68 cents for every 100 dollars of assessed value. The higher levy will generate about 28 million dollars for JCPS.

The board heard from about a dozen parents and protesters who oppose the higher rate. Among them was former congressional candidate Marilyn Parker, who said the district should change how it spends its current revenues.

“Neighborhood schools, charter schools, smaller classrooms, male mentors for at-risk kids and school vouchers,” she said. “We should be cutting teachers’ benefits, not increasing them.”

Board member Larry Hujo said he understands that times are hard, but the district needs the money to operate.

“You cannot run public education like a business,” he said. “You can’t do it. You can’t say, ‘Well, times are tough let’s lay off 50 teachers or 500 teachers, because you tell me what kids go home with those teachers.”

The board says the recession has led to stagnant tax revenues for the district. JCPS has about a one billion dollar budget.

Earlier in the meeting, board members apologized for transportation problems on the first day of school.

Last Tuesday afternoon, problems with student information at three elementary schools led to hundreds of elementary students arriving home hours after dismissal, some as late as 9 pm.

The school board heard from many angry parents about the problems. Rob Mattheu said he didn’t think Superintendent Sheldon Berman and the board took appropriate responsibility for the bus system.

“Do Dr. Berman and the Board of Education really thing two and a half hours to get home is something to pat yourself on the back about?” he asked. “Do you really think a 99 or 99% success rate is good enough when you’re dealing with young children, many of whom are attending school for the first time?”

Berman and several board members apologized for the delays. Two principals were suspended for three days for not properly preparing their students for bus rides on the first day.

Many of the parents who took the floor said the situation was made worse because the district could not tell them where their children were. Transportation Director Rick Caple says that issue could be solved by better radios in buses, which the district is currently considering purchasing.

“It’s very frustrating to us because we can’t get back with parents,” he said. “Sometimes we don’t know who’s on a particular bus. Especially when we have to recover from some incident that happens.”

Caple was part of a panel of officials who discussed transportation issues with the board. A JCPS spokesperson says by the end of last week, all students were delivered home by 6:15 pm.

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Local News

Activists Hold Another 'Tea Party' In Louisville

Activists gathered in Louisville’s Central Park Saturday for a rally in favor of smaller government.

The event coincided with a stop from the Tea Party Express bus tour. The national campaign grew out of the so-called tea parties held on April 15th to protest government spending.

The rally featured conservative speakers and calls to change the plan for overhauling healthcare. Marilyn Parker helped organize the event. She says members of all parties were invited to speak.

“They’re not just unhappy with this administration; they were unhappy with the last administration as well. They didn’t feel like the last administration controlled spending.”

Parker recently resigned her position with the Louisville tea party group and formally announced Saturday that she’ll seek the Republican nomination for the congressional seat currently held by Democrat John Yarmuth.

The Tea Party Express tour started last month in California and will conclude on September 12th in Washington D.C,