Kentucky’s Keturah Herron made history Tuesday night with a win in a special election for a state house seat. Tuesday night Herron became the new representative of Kentucky House of Representatives District 42.
Kentucky born and bred, Herron has extensive community experience, including supporting youth and families across the state who were navigating the criminal system. She also served as a lobbyist and policy strategist for the ACLU of Kentucky.
Herron handily beat her Republican opponent. Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams shared results not long after polls closed.
“With all precincts reporting in today’s special election in KY House District 42, results are: Keturah Herron, 1,950; Judy Martin Stallard, 119; 1 write-in vote,” Adams tweeted.
Special elections can be difficult in regards to turnout and voter excitement. But Herron hit the ground and pulled out a win.
“Congratulations to @KeturahHerron on winning tonight’s special election, making her the first openly LGBTQ+ State Representative in Kentucky’s history,” Move Kentucky Forward tweeted.
According to Ballotpedia, the seat became vacant shortly before the Christmas holiday after former Rep. Reginald Meeks retired. Meeks first took office in 2000. The district is split almost evenly between Black and white residents.
Local news outlets highlighted the historic nature of Herron’s win, making her the only openly LGBTQ+ member of the Kentucky General Assembly. According to a 2018 interview in the Lexington Herald-Leader, former Rep. Ernesto Scorsone described not being out to the public when he first ran for office in the early 1980s. That would change with a 2003 speech in which Scorsone used the phrase “as a gay Kentuckian” in a speech.
Herron also increases the representation of Black women in the state’s legislature, joining Reps. Attica Scott and Pamela Stevenson in the statehouse. In just under eight years, the Kentucky House of Representatives went from zero Black women to three.
Speaking after her win, Herron told local outlet WDRB that her win opens up possibilities for people across the state, not just those in her new district. At a time when Republican-controlled legislatures are trying to undermine advancements made along the lines of race, gender, and sexual orientation, having elected officials like Herron speak up might not change the vote, but it sends a clear message.
“Being a Black, queer, masculine-presenting woman, this is history. This matters,” Herron said in an interview with WDRB News. “This matters for all of those folks who across, not just here in Louisville, but across the commonwealth, to know that you are able to do that and you have someone that is going to be able to represent you, not just speak on issues, but someone who knows and understands and who’s walked that and so I just look forward to inspiring other folks and open up the doors for other people to be in this space.”