Current Teacher • Retired Firefighter • Metro Councilman

James Peden

I was born in Glasgow, Ky, the same town in which my parents were born and raised.  At the age of 3, like many in rural Kentucky we headed to Louisville so my dad could work at General Electric.  After a brief stay in an apartment in Newburg, we bought a house in the Highview community.  There my family grew, adding a sister and two brothers.  

After graduating from Seneca High School, I started college at the University of Louisville.  Living at home, I was able to pay my own way through school waiting tables first at Ryan’s then moving to Chi Chi’s. I eventually earned a BA in History followed by an MA in Teaching.

I have always had a job.  Except for a brief time after the birth of my first child, I always held two jobs.  My first job was at Little Caesars during high school.  Waited tables through college.  After college graduation, I did several jobs from selling vacuum cleaners to substitute teaching to working at Brown Forman’s Bluegrass Cooperage as I worked on my graduate degree and sought work with JCPS.  Back then there was not a shortage of teachers.

The other job I had was not a paying job, but the benefits were immeasurable.  In my second semester of college I joined the Highview Fire Department.  I ended up staying there 26 years, eventually retiring as an Assistant Chief.  Over that time I met so many other community minded people, learned many other skills that they don’t teach in school, and developed a sense that everyone needs to give back as they are able.

In 1995 I started with Jefferson County public schools at Iroquois High first teaching Special Ed, then World History.  27 years later I am a resource teacher specializing in testing.  Over that time I have moved from Iroquois to Seneca to the Phoenix School of Discovery (yes, a JCPS school) and now I am at Jeffersontown High.  I have been a baseball coach and a chess coach, both of which I gave up when I was elected to office in 2002.

My wife is also a teacher.  We met in my second year of teaching, her first, when she was assigned the room next door.  The principal asked me to keep an eye on the new girl.   We have been together ever since.  She now teaches at Fern Creek Elementary.  We have two college age daughters, one getting ready to graduate with a degree in Ecology and the other is majoring in Math and wants to be a teacher too.  As a family we like to travel.  At first it was for weekend soccer events with both girls, now more for relaxation.

I was elected to office for the first time in 2003 with the inaugural Metro Council.  During my time in office I have tried to bring some openness to government and provide things to our district that the public and private sectors will not.  I have regular open office hours the 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month at 5pm at Highview Station 2 on Smyrna Pkwy.  Our office has funded walking paths, playground equipment, sidewalks and extra paving.  We started a summer music festival called FridayFest at Highview Park.  We are entering season 15.  Most recently we have helped fund the Highview Community Arts Center where a theater is expected to open in April.

As I get ready to leave the Metro Council and soon my teaching career as well, I want to thank everyone who has helped me along the way.  Without others much of what was listed above would not have been possible.  When I  started on the council I was the 2nd youngest member.  I’m still not near the oldest but I have grown as a person, not just aged.  My family has become part of the fabric of Louisville, not just residents.  It has been a great journey I wish to continue in Frankfort.