Government of Louisville, Kentucky
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Louisville Metro is governed by an executive dubbed the Metro Mayor as well as a city legislature dubbed the Metro Council. The second and current Metro Mayor is Greg Fischer (D), who entered office on January 3, 2011. Fischer was elected with 51% of the vote in 2010.
The Metro Council consists of twenty-six seats corresponding to districts apportioned by population throughout the city. All of the seats are for four year terms. Using a staggered process, half (thirteen) of the seats are reelected every two years. The council is chaired by a Council President, currently Jim King (D), who is elected by the council members annually. Democrats currently have a 65.4% (17 to 9 seat) majority on the council.
The Official Seal of the City of Louisville, no longer used following the formation of a consolidated city-county government in 2003, reflected its history and heritage in the fleur-de-lis representing French aid given during the Revolutionary War, and the thirteen stars signify the original colonies. It was designed by legendary Austrian typographer Victor Hammer. The new seal of the consolidated government retains the fleur-de-lis, but has only two stars, one representing the city and the other the county.
Kentucky's 3rd congressional district is roughly contiguous with Louisville Metro, and is currently represented by Rep. John Yarmuth (D), though some of the southern areas of the city are in the 2nd congressional district, which is represented by Brett Guthrie (R). Democrats are the majority of registered voters in 424 of the 497 voting precincts in the 3rd congressional district. Louisville has not elected a Republican mayor since 1965.
The first semblance of local government came shortly after the settlement began. In 1779, pioneering founders elected five men "trustees". In 1780 the town was formerly chartered and the Virginia legislature provided for local government by nine legislature-appointed trustees. When Kentucky became a state in 1792 the Kentucky legislature took over the appointments.
Trustees did not have to live in Louisville until a 1795 law change. In 1797 citizens were given the privilege of electing trustees. Most important decisions still had to be made at the state level, and the trustees were administrators rather than legislators.
When Louisville became Kentucky's first city in 1828, greater autonomy came with it, in the form of a ten-member "Common Council" and a mayor. In 1851 the city was given a new charter, keeping the Common Council as a "lower house" to the Board of Aldermen, an "upper house" of the city's legislative power. In 1929 the larger but less prestigious Common Council was eliminated. This legislative system continued until City-County Merger.
The 26-seat Louisville Metro Council was formally established in January 2003 upon the merger of the former City of Louisville with Jefferson County and replaced the city's Board of Aldermen and the county's Fiscal Court (three county commissioners).
The first election under the Act of Incorporation took place on the first Monday in March 1828. All free white males who had lived in the city for at least six months prior to the election could vote, although mayors were not elected directly initially. The two top vote-getters were referred to the Governor, who selected the mayor from the two, with senate approval. The early mayor was relatively weak, acting mostly as a Justice of the Peace, serving a one-year term, and lacking a vote on the City Council except to break ties.
A change to the charter in 1838 allowed for direct election of a mayor, extended the term to three years, and prevented incumbents from running for re-election. The term was reduced to two years from 1851 to 1870, then returned to three, and was finally set at four years by the Kentucky Legislature in 1894. In the early 20th century, corruption and political machines were rampant, causing mayors of both parties to be removed from office by courts. All legislative power was given to the Board of Aldermen in 1929. Mayoral term limits were set at three in 1986.
On January 6, 2003, the city of Louisville and Jefferson County governments merged to form one Metro Government and the new office Mayor of Louisville Metro.
- Louisville Metro Government Official Website
- Louisville-Jefferson County, Kentucky Metro Government Code of Ordinances
- CityMayors feature
- "Louisville". U.S. City Open Data Census. UK: Open Knowledge Foundation.