(WHAS11) -- After a five hour stalemate, backroom negotiations and pressure from activists, the Louisville Metro Council elected a 31 year old University of Louisville professor to fill the Sixth District Metro Council seat vacated by the death of George Unseld.
"I thought it was over," admitted Deonte Hollowell, "but I always have faith so I didn't count myself out."
Holowell is a registered independent who had not received any votes in the first 33 ballots taken by Metro Council members beginning at 5pm, Wednesday. Instead, Democratic applicants Ken Herndon and Neeka Parks Thompson both came within one vote of the 13 needed to win the seat. After the second of two hour long recesses to allow absent council members to arrive in the chamber, just after 10pm, 17 Metro Council members settled on Holowell as a compromise candidate. Hollowell had gone home.
"I was definitely here earlier," Hollowell laughed, "I stayed for a great long time and I was just about to get something to eat."
As Holloway watched the proceedings and the last recess on Metro TV, the council members were involved in discussions and negotiations in city hall offices and hallways. The shuttle diplomacy coincided with the 8:15pm arrival of Council Member Jim King, who had missed the first three hours of balloting while out of state on business. King was seen moving from office to office. Just before the final vote, King and several Republicans met in Council Member Mary Woolridge with Woolridge and several other Democrats. The last one hour recess allowed Republican Council Member Kevin Kramer to arrive after a National League of Cities conference in Washington, D.C.
"Ultimately, when we weren't making any progress, (Hollowell's) name surfaced as a possibility because he will hold this place for four months, represent the people of the Sixth district and it allows the Democrat and Republican parties really unfettered decision making in picking the candidates for the fall," King said, declining to take credit for brokering the deal.
From the outset, Democratic applicants Neeka Parks Thompson and Ken Herndon were the clear frontrunners. For the first five hours, it was a two person race. Neither was able to hit 13 votes, despite several council members switching allegiances.
"Democracy is sometimes not pretty," mused Ken Herndon, "and I know that, but I still love politics and still want to serve the people of the sixth district and I intend to do so."
"It was a long process," said Neeka Parks Thompson, but I respect the Democratic process. And of course I'm disappointed, but the council has spoken and I expect to still try to run in November."
Herndon said he would decide in the next days if he would seek the Democratic party's nomination to be placed on the fall ballot. The winner in November fills the remaining two years on Unseld's term. Hollowell's election Wednesday applies to only the next four months.