Kentucky Democratic House leader withdraws re-election bid


Rep. Joni L. Jenkins, D-Shivley, speaks on the first day of the 2021 legislative session at the state Capitol in Frankfort, Ky., on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021.

Rep. Joni L. Jenkins, D-Shivley, speaks on the first day of the 2021 legislative session at the state Capitol in Frankfort, Ky., on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021.

rhermens@herald-leader.com

House Minority Leader Joni Jenkins, D-Shively, withdrew her candidacy for re-election on Wednesday.

Jenkins was first elected to the legislature in 1994 and made history in 2019 when she became the first woman to serve as the top leader of a legislative caucus in Kentucky.

The minority leader said in a press release that a major factor in her decision to not seek re-election was the changing composition of her district. Jenkins, who is white, said that she would not stand in the way of current Shively mayor Beverly Chester-Burton, a Black woman who is seeking election to the seat. Chester-Burton filed for House District 44 yesterday, the last day that candidates could file.

“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,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins has served as representative of Shively and surrounding areas in Jefferson County since 1994. Her service overlapped with that of her father, who was mayor of Shively between 1994 and 2004.

The Jefferson County native was previously chair of the House Women’s Caucus as well as the Jefferson County Delegation.

Jenkins said in the release that there has been “no greater honor” than leading the House Democratic Caucus. She will maintain her seat and her role as caucus leader through the end of the year, according to the press release.

“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,” Jenkins said. “I will finish my term the same way I started my first: Fighting for those I represent and for a better commonwealth.”

This story was originally published January 26, 2022 3:12 PM.

Austin Horn is a politics reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. He previously worked for the Frankfort State Journal and National Public Radio. Horn has roots in both Woodford and Martin Counties.





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