Jenkins withdraws from 44th District race, leaves seat for minority

Only remaining candidate is Black woman who is mayor of Shively

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WTVQ) – A veteran lawmaker has decided to step aside to make way for change.

A a statement released Wednesday, Kentucky House Democratic Caucus Leader Joni Jenkins, the first woman to lead a legislative caucus in the General Assembly and who was first elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives in 1994, announced she is withdrawing as a candidate for the 44th House District.  She will maintain her seat and her title as caucus leader through the end of the year.

The 63-year-old Jenkins noted the 44th District, which covers part of west Louisville along the Ohio River, has become a minority district under the new redistricting plan and she wants to give way to a minority holding the seat.

“I have long advocated for a General Assembly that looks like Kentucky, so when minorities became the majority population in the newly redrawn 44th House District, I did not want to be a barrier to a person of color joining the Kentucky House of Representatives.  That’s why I withdrew my candidacy today,” said Jenkins, who is a University of Kentucky graduate.

“I have loved representing my beautifully diverse district for many years, and will be forever grateful that the voters gave me the chance to serve them.  I will finish my term the same way I started my first: Fighting for those I represent and for a better commonwealth. There has been no greater honor than leading this incredible House Democratic Caucus and serving with so many wonderful people over the years.  It has been said many times, but your fellow legislators really do feel like family, and I’ve long known that to be true,” she concluded.

Tuesday was the qualifying deadline for the May primaries. Jenkins’ withdrawal leaves Democrat Beverly Chester-Burton, a Black woman who is mayor of the city of Shively, as the only candidate qualified in the race.

Her decision draw praise from both sides of the aisle.

“Since taking the Oath of Office in January of 1995, the House Minority Floor Leader has devoted her legislative career to advocating for the people of her district and providing a voice for Kentuckians across the Commonwealth. Her extraordinary work on behalf of women and children has brought attention to the challenges our state faces, while her willingness to work across the aisle has provided an opportunity to seek meaningful solutions. Leader Jenkins always puts people before politics and while we have not always agreed, I have never doubted her commitment. While Joni’s decision to retire at the end of this term saddens me, I wish her the very best,” said Republican House Speaker David Osborne.

“Joni Jenkins is a trailblazer who has made Kentucky a better commonwealth through her years of service that should be a model for other leaders. As the first woman to be elected the primary leader of either party’s legislative caucus, Leader Jenkins built an impeccable record serving the commonwealth, protecting our most vulnerable and improving the lives of Kentuckians from all corners of the state. While she is not running for another term, we know her work is far from over and she will continue to be a champion for all Kentuckians,” noted Kentucky Democratic Party Chair Colmon Elridge.

Categories: News, State News

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