Kentucky House Democrats elect two women to leadership roles, state first

Representatives Joni Jenkins (D-Shively, Left), Angie Hatton (D-Whitesburg), and Derrick Graham (D-Frankfort, Right) will lead the House Democratic Caucus through next November's elections(Photo: Kentucky General Assembly)
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FRANKFORY, Ky. (WYMT) - The Kentucky House Democratic Caucus made history on December 20th by electing the first-ever woman to serve as the top leader of a legislative caucus -- and then added to that by voting for the first-ever leadership team in the General Assembly featuring two women.

As the new House Democratic Floor Leader, Rep. Joni Jenkins replaces former Leader Rocky Adkins, who resigned earlier in December to become the senior advisor in Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration. The Shively legislator, who has served in the Kentucky House of Representatives since 1995, joined the leadership team a year ago when she became Caucus Whip and the second woman ever to be a House Democratic leader.

The caucus then selected Rep. Angie Hatton of Whitesburg to take on the House Democratic Whip role. An attorney and a former journalist, she was first elected to the House in 2016.

State Rep. Derrick Graham, who last year became the first African-American to serve as a House Democratic leader, completes the three-person leadership team.

“I am humbled by the caucus’ support and look forward to serving them and all of Kentucky in the months ahead,” said Leader Jenkins, who was elected by the caucus without opposition. “We have amazing members and a strong agenda as we head into the 2020 legislative session, and we look forward to working with Governor Andy Beshear and our legislative colleagues across the aisle and in the Senate to move Kentucky forward.

“Becoming the first woman to lead a caucus as a floor leader means a lot to me, as well,” she added, “because it is vitally important that women have a greater opportunity to serve in these roles. Hopefully, the caucus’ decision today to elect Angie and I will inspire many other women to pursue leadership roles in their fields, too.”

In her remarks, Rep. Hatton said that “I have dedicated most of my life trying to help others, and the highlight of that work has been my time as a legislator. I am excited about this new role and can’t wait to do whatever else I can to help our caucus and all of Kentucky succeed. We have a lot of issues that need to be addressed, but we also have a lot of great ideas on how to improve them.”

The new leadership team will serve for the remainder of the year. Leadership elections for all four House and Senate caucuses will take place following the November election.

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