We Need Your Help - House Bill 50 // Senate Bill 50

Posted on February 27, 2023

Dear Fort Wright Friends and Neighbors:

I wanted to make you aware of Kentucky Senate Bill 50 and House Bill 50 which impose partisan elections on local offices including County Commissioner, Mayor, Legislative Body Members, all City Offices, City Ward, Boards of Education, School Board candidates, and Soil and Water Conservation Officers. 

The rationale I have heard by those pushing these bills is that this legislation will create transparency so that voters can make better decisions about candidates running for these offices.

Since 1998, I have served eight consecutive terms on the Fort Wright City Council, and I am in my third term as Mayor, so I have run for office eleven times over the course of twenty-four years. I have also spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours at public meetings, walked door-to-door for myself and other candidates, and served as a volunteer with many organizations. In all that time, I have very rarely been asked about my party affiliation, and I have never hesitated to share it when asked. To be clear, I am a lifelong Republican, I served nearly two decades on the Kenton County Republican Party Executive Committee, and won the Kenton County Republican Party Lifetime Achievement Award. I don't flaunt my party affiliation, but I never hide it either, nor do my colleagues on Council.

Over the past 24 years, I have worked closely and collaboratively with people of all parties to improve our local, regional and statewide community and have never let party politics stand in the way of doing what is right. Based on my actual experience, I can say with absolute certainty that these misguided bills are not in the best interest of Kentuckians and will only create unwelcome discord and dissension. City Council issues are rarely partisan, instead, we are focused on local issues such as public safety, infrastructure, taxes, zoning, and economic development. The injection of party politics through partisan elections will only further divide our communities and make it much more difficult for local officials to work together for the good of our communities and the betterment of our neighborhoods. 

Many local legislative bodies already have tremendous issues finding enough people to fill available seats and many people who are knowledgeable, experienced and dedicated to serving their communities may not want to affiliate themselves with a political party and the possible rancor that comes with it. The passage of these bills will further limit the pool of candidates and the diversity of ideas, ultimately leading to a less representative and less effective local government. Furthermore, the addition of primary elections will create substantial additional costs and hurdles for candidates, as well as the Board of Elections. 

As evidenced in the last election, at least in Northern Kentucky, there are already serious issues with finding enough poll workers to have efficient and effective elections. Adding more elections and substantially more cost to the process is exactly what we don't need. 

It is also important to note that current state statutes allow local legislative bodies and boards to opt for partisan elections giving those closest to their constituents the ability to make this change if their constituents desire it. As of this writing, I am unaware of any legislative body in Kentucky that has made this change in the recent past of their own accord, clearly indicating little public appetite for this change. 

In light of these facts and because our long serving members of Fort Wright City Council (more than 50 years of collective service) have also very rarely been asked about party affiliation, we passed a resolution against these two bills. Despite the passage of our Resolution [01-2023] and our widespread promotion of the Resolution, I have yet to be contacted by a single person in favor of either bill. And I have never been asked by a Fort Wright resident to change our system to partisan elections.

Finally, the Kentucky League of Cities Board of Directors has voted unanimously to oppose these bills and the Kenton County Mayor’s Group also passed a resolution against these bills. I have spoken with many other local elected officials regionally and statewide and opposition continues to build. Cities across the Commonwealth have passed resolutions similar to ours opposing these unnecessary bills, and the resolutions opposing these bills continue to roll in.

In conclusion, my colleagues on the Fort Wright City Council and I strongly oppose the passage of Kentucky Senate Bill 50 and House Bill 50 and we need your help! We urge you to reach out to your state legislators and urge them to oppose these expensive, unwarranted and divisive bills.

We are represented by Representative Stephanie Dietz in the Kentucky House and Senator Chris McDaniel in the Kentucky Senate. You can click their names to contact them or get their phone number and email address along with other state representatives by clicking here.

Thank you for your time and attention, and please feel free to reach out to me any time if you have questions about this matter or any other. You can reach me at [email protected] or 859-414-4610.

Best regards, 

Dave Hatter, Mayor
City of Fort Wright, Kentucky