And then there were 15: The Urban County Council returned to its full complement of members Friday with the swearing in of Joseph Smith.
Mayor Jim Gray selected the 62-year-old to serve out the still-fresh term of former 2nd District council member Sasha Love Higgins, who resigned in April following multiple felony indictments. Explaining his choice, Gray pointed to Smith’s experience both inside and outside city government.
"Being a realtor, he's understood and gotten to know the whole city," Gray explained. "He's served on the Board of Adjustments. He's served on the Planning Commission. So he understands the mechanics of the way the city works and the way the government works."
Quizzed on his policy interests, Smith told WUKY his first job is to put his thumb on the pulse of the community.
"I don't want to prejudge any area or an neighborhood," he said. "My job is to listen at this point. It's not for me to come in there and tell them what they need to do."
In addition to his three decades in the realty business, Smith served on the Lyric Task Force Committee, the city planning commission, and as a trustee at Lexington Catholic High School while the school faced lawsuits alleging racial and sexual harassment and discrimination. Asked about the matter, Smith said, "it's really inappropriate for me to make comments on that because it's still a legal issue."
Smith's appointment also maintains the balance of African-American representation on the council. Currently three of the 15 members are black.
Mayor Jim Gray says former 2nd District representative Shevawn Akers – who lost to Higgins in November – was interviewed as a potential replacement. While Akers was ultimately passed over, the mayor said she “served her district well and with conviction.”
Council races are nonpartisan, but records show Smith is a registered Democrat.
He is set to serve on the council until December 2018.