Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell wins May 17 primary.jpg

LOUISVILLE, Ky., (WDRB) -- Incumbent Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell handily beat two Democratic challengers in Tuesday night's primary, and without a Republican opponent in November will remain for a fourth term.

O’Connell, who has served as Jefferson County Attorney since 2008, easily held off a prosecutor he once fired, Karl Price, and former District Judge David Holton.

"The theme tonight for me is gratitude for the people of Jefferson County and my staff," he said in an interview. "The motto around our office is to work to do the next right thing." 

O'Connell said he looks forward to working with whoever the next mayor is.

"The city has been through a lot the last few years," he said in a phone interview. "We want to work together to heal these wounds."

O'Connell mentioned that in 2019, he announced his office would no longer pursue cases where people were charged with an ounce or less of marijuana, if that is the only or most serious charge against the defendant. At the time, he pointed out that Black Louisville residents were at least four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than whites.

"I have not had any blowback from that at all," he said Tuesday night. "It's been incredible really." 

With two-thirds of the percent's reporting, O'Connell had 33,980 votes comparted to 11,716 for Holton and 10,623 for Price, as of 9:00 p.m. Tuesday, according to preliminary results from the Jefferson County Clerk's Office.

In 2015, O’Connell determined Price failed to take responsibility and properly apologize for alleged inappropriate and derogatory comments he made about an Asian-American family and others.

Holton, Kentucky’s first blind judge, retired in 2017 after nearly a decade on the bench. He first took the District Court bench in 2008 and was re-elected without opposition in 2010 and 2014.

O’Connell, 72, was appointed in 2008 and has won election three times since.

He collected $367,102 and spent $287,465, according to the most recent reports from the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance.

Holton raised $76,413 and spent $25,390 as of the most recent finance reports. And Price raised $50,774 and spent $40,931.

O’Connell, a Louisville native and St. X graduate, served as a district court judge from 1980 to 1987 and on the circuit bench from 1987 to 1990.

The Jefferson County Attorney’s office prosecutes traffic cases, misdemeanors and oversees child support cases. In addition, the office represents the city and Metro Council in legal issues.

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