For those who don’t know, my opponent in the 2004 race of the 38th State Representative seat, Denver Butler, is hanging it up. Butler was quoted as saying in a January 19th interview in the Courier Journal, that age and a desire to help his daughter, Marianne Butler, run for the Metro Council 15 seat were his primary reasons. However, a more likely scenario, and the one I heard almost non stop from local community activists, political insiders and others, was that Butler didn't want another race like the one I gave him in 2004 again. Denver was seriously concerned that he might not be lucky a second time around.
In a district where Denver has been a long standing incumbent; where he held a 2.5:1 voter registration advantage, he won by just 2000 votes. That folks is considered a close election. Despite a large campaign war chest, Denver was unable to mount any type of aggressive campaign. He wasn’t able to walk the district; he wouldn’t debate; he wouldn’t show up at any community events, and so forth. Simply put, his heart just didn't appear to be in it anymore. He lost that "fire in the belly" every politican talks about.
While many people, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents have made a point of congratulating me on forcing Butler's departure, I don’t want anyone to think I’m gloating. Far from it. I knew Denver for many years before deciding to run against him. He is a good man. Denver Butler worked long and hard, first as an Alderman, and later as State Representative. However, Denver stopped being effective several years ago in my opinion, and that of many political insiders in both political parties, and of many in the district. He relied too much on past laurels. His failure was not a lack of concern for the people in the 38th. Indeed, he cared very much. His failure, however, was not in recognizing when it was time to leave. A failing of many politicans. He became part of the entrenched “good ole boys” which, over the years, has done so much harm to Louisville. The people of the not just the 38th House District deserved better, so do the people of Southern Louisville and Jefferson County. We’ve seen to many neighborhoods decline. We've seen crime and drugs dealing increase, especially meth production We’ve seen to many business leave, especially the small “mom and pop” stores which used to dot the South End. We’ve seen to many unwanted developments, including trailer parks spring up. We’ve become, as some folks have said, a “dumping ground” for Louisville's East End. That then, is why I chose to run, and that was after several long face to face meetings asking him to step aside for the wellbeing of the district (and at each meeting, he always give me a long pause and asked for "just two more years" and would promise to resign and support me. However, after six years of waiting, I decided thar was time enough).
While many believe Denver’s decision to retire was at least partially to my credit, I rather focus on the future. I hope we can sit aside petty party politics, which are often self-destructive, and come together as a community in order to work together in rebuilding the South End in something everyone can be proud of once more. We need strong, pro-active and non-partisian leadership.