By Eleanor Ferguson
Keturah Herron, one of Kentucky’s Democratic state representatives, talked with U of L’s Social Change capstone class in April, taught by professors Cherie Dawson-Edwards and Marian Vasser. During her talk at U of L, she noted that there was not enough Black and Brown representation in state government. Among the janitorial staff in the government buildings, she stated, there was. This injustice is stark. Students shook their heads at this, several frowning.
Rep. Herron, using she/they pronouns, is the first openly LGBTQ+ person elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives. According to their website, they were raised by a single mom and are a “proud product of our public schools.” Social work, on both a large and small scale, are passions of Rep. Herron.
When her cousin was incarcerated, Herron took guardianship of her two minor sons. Because of this, she gained an intimate understanding of how the criminal justice system can affect Kentucky families. She attended U of L studying sports administration and earned a master’s degree in corrections and juvenile justice from Eastern Kentucky University.
She utilized her unique education by running sports programs for children in foster care and the juvenile justice system.
Rep. Herron knows there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution to gun violence. She believes it would take prevention, intervention, and then community transformation. She’s worked on bills to destroy guns that have been confiscated by law enforcement—right now destroying them is against the law, and she wants to change that.
In Louisville, cases are considered “cold” if they’re unsolved for three years. This means that many families in Louisville are left without answers when a loved one is murdered. Rep. Herron saw the need in her community, and sponsored a bill to address it: House Bill 551.
The bill, which is now law, allows local law enforcement to contract with retired officers to work on cold cases. The retired police officers would be invited to contract with the police force to lend their expertise. The bill doesn’t allow retired police officers to patrol neighborhoods or make arrests. It capitalizes on an unused resource that could bring families the answers they deserve.
It wasn’t an easy path to enact this legislation. Rep. Herron received pushback from those who argued law enforcement has enough resources. To her though, it’s a bill that advocates for the victims of violence and their surviving family. They also believe that if police officers have left the force for bad reasons, people have the right to know about that; they want to hold officers accountable.
Her track record shows this. After Breonna Taylor was killed by the LMPD, she worked to pass Breonna’s Law which banned no-knock warrants in Louisville. Later, she helped build a bipartisan coalition to pass a no-knock warrant ban for all of Kentucky. Rep. Herron has worked to make the world a more equitable, safe place, even when the world does the opposite for her.
From case managing, and coaching, to legislating, Rep. Herron has worked to build a better Kentucky against hefty odds. She hopes that students get more involved with their governments and hold power to account.

Photo Courtesy // LRC Public Information