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Kentucky House Democrats make history, name Joni Jenkins to become state’s first female floor leader


By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

A little bit of history has been made as Kentucky House Democrats have elected the first female floor leader.

Rep. Joni Jenkins of Shively was elected Friday by the House Democratic Caucus. She replaces Rocky Adkins, who resigned his post to serve as Senior advisor to Gov. Andy Beshear.

Since Jenkins had served as Minority Whip, Rep. Angie Hatton of Whitesburg was then elected to that position.

Caucus Chair Derrick Graham (left), Floor Leader Joni Jenkins (center) and Minority Whip Angie Hatton (right) stand for a photo at the Capitol building in Frankfort. (Photo by Tom Latek, Kentucky Today)

Rep. Derrick Graham of Frankfort rounds out the leadership team, as he remains the Democratic Caucus Chair.

Jenkins says there have been some great leaders that had gone before them. “I am honored to represent this caucus, with such great leaders by my side, Rep. Hatton and Rep. Graham. It’s a very strong leadership team, but it’s a very strong caucus. We have an amazing caucus and as you see, it looks like Kentucky. Many women, many people of color, it is a great caucus.”

Jenkins says she has had a great relationship with members of the Republican majority leadership. “As you know, I worked with Speaker Pro Tem David Meade on child welfare for several years and I think we have always been able to sit down and find common ground,” she said.

“There are going to be times that we are not going to agree and there are going to be times we as leadership and our caucus are going to hold them accountable,” Jenkins continued. “But I think the people of Kentucky have spoken in this last election and they want civility. They want folks to work together. They want us to find those areas that all Kentuckians can agree with.”

Hatton agreed with Jenkins’ statement. “I think people are tired of infotainment. I think people are tired of us fighting like gladiators for their amusement. I think there is real work to be done and that people want to see us actually do the job that we were hired for. And that’s to find ways to help Kentucky.”

House Speaker David Osborne issued a statement on the election of Jenkins and Hatton to their leadership posts:

“On behalf of members of the House Majority Caucus, I would like to congratulate Rep. Joni Jenkins and Rep. Angie Hatton on their historic victories in the minority caucus’ leadership elections. We look forward to working with both to move our Commonwealth forward. While we may have political differences, there is certainly a mutual respect and understanding that our first priority must be the people of Kentucky.”

In addition to Jenkins being the first female floor leader, it also marks the first time two women have held leadership positions in either chamber and either party.


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