This marks the first time in Jefferson County that a Black woman has held this seat.
Gerina Whethers is making history in Louisville as the first Black woman serving as Jefferson County’s Commonwealth’s Attorney and top prosecutor.
Whethers has been working since May following the untimely passing of long-time Commonwealth Attorney Tom Wine, WDRB.com reports.
“I knew him very well,” Whethers said in an interview with the outlet. “We are still reeling from that, especially from our office, and I understand that change is tough.”
Last month, Gov. Andy Beshear announced that he named Whethers as Wine’s successor. It is the first time in Jefferson County that a Black woman has held this seat. Her term will expire on Jan. 5, 2025, according to a May 17 WDRB report.
“I would have been excited for anyone who might look like me,” the Louisville native said, per WDRB’s June 9 report.
As a governor-appointed candidate, she will be on the ballot in November, but Whethers is the only candidate to file for office, according to WDRB’s May article.
Whethers has 20 years of experience in public service. She previously served as the secretary of the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet, according to WDRB. Before that, she led two divisions in the Office of the Attorney General. Her involvement in community organizations and boards includes serving as an executive board member for the NAACP’s Louisville Chapter.
Whethers’ appointment comes against the backdrop of a racial and social justice movement sparked, in part, by the 2020 police killing of Breonna Taylor. The Commonwealth Attorney’s office has also faced criticism over police prosecutions in recent months, according to WDRB.
As WDRB reported on June 9, Whethers said, “There are things that need to be changed, and there are things that we are all working on.”
“I believe that people at the table are making changes,” she added. “One is working with not only the mayor but our interim chief. I believe that she is here for the right reason so it’s time for us to able to work together.”
Whethers hopes to reduce the length of time it takes for a defendant to stand trial as part of her efforts to protect victims of crime.
“There’s four million of us in this commonwealth what we want to continue to do is to understand that we’re all different. That means that all voices need to be heard,” she said.
As she celebrates this milestone moment in Jefferson County, Whethers reflects on the words of her late mother.
“If my mom was still alive that’s what she would say: you need to stay humble, stay grounded and remember why you got this spot,” she said, per WDRB.
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