Louisville, KY (WHAS11) - It's not the type of political contest known for having a hotly contested primary, but the race for Jefferson County Attorney is proving to be just that.
The incumbent Democrat, longtime County Attorney Mike O'Connell, has served a decade in office but now fellow Democrat, Louisville Metro Councilman Brent Ackerson, is trying to unseat him in the Kentucky primary a week from today.
This race fits that a pattern not often seen in Kentucky with a powerful incumbent facing a challenge from someone in their own party. There's another new trend in this race, it's unusual to see a County Attorneys primary race reveal such a bitter difference between opponents.
On one side you have a sitting County Attorney, former Judge Mike O'Connell.
"He lacks the vision and commitment to bring to this job and bring it what it needs", said O’Connell of his challenger, Brent Ackerson.
The sitting Louisville Metro Councilman, Ackerson, had his own pointed words for the County Attorney, “Mike has been doing this for ten years. For ten years he's been our County Attorney, for ten years things haven't been getting any better.”
You don't have to watch for long and you'll see that there's no love lost between these two candidates. But the biggest beef between these two Democrats can be found at LMPD and the case involving sex abuse allegations connected to the police explorers program. Ackerson has accused O'Connell of questionable decisions regarding identifying accusers, O'Connell accuses Ackerson of twisting the truth for political gain.
“His position is a win at all costs position”, insists Ackerson. “When they went into court to essentially request that the names of the victims be exposed, and his words were something along the lines of, ‘the officer’s names are out there these victim’s names, these accusers names should also be made public.’ All that does is discourage people from coming forward. It sends a message that if you come forward there might be political backlash to you.”
O'Connell responded, “Well, he doesn't have anything else to talk about in his campaign. That is not true. I've made it clear that neither the mayor nor I want the identities of these victims to be disclosed.”
Ackerson says, if elected, he'll bring a fresh perspective, consider reorganizing the office to allow some services to be taken care of in locations outside of downtown. County Attorney O'Connell cites efforts to battle the opioid epidemic, his standing with a national opioid lawsuit and track record of case evaluations as reasons he should continue to serve.