At 42, Daniel London has established a career in public service, although he’s never held elected office. He hopes to change that fact and is getting a three-year jump on the 2022 general election.
Working in the appointed role as Hardin County’s deputy judge-executive since October 2017, London plans to seek the judge-executive’s position after Harry Berry steps down.
“I want people to understand how serious I will take this race,” he said. “How much I want to put myself in a servant leadership position to serve this community and something of this caliber is pivotal to the community.”
Although he describes a two-decade-long “strong friendship” with Berry, who he met at a Republican Party event, London said he is not an ideological duplicate of the current officeholder and it would be inaccurate to portray him as a handpicked successor.
“Voters make the decision. … I have to run on own my merits,” London said.
London, a Metcalfe County native, initially moved to Elizabethtown in 1998 while working for U.S. Rep. Ron Lewis. He began working for Lewis as an intern and later served as his chief of staff.
When Lewis unexpectedly withdrew his re-election bid, London did file to run for the 2nd Congressional District seat. He later withdrew when Brett Guthrie of Bowling Green, then a Republican state representative, entered the race.
London then went on to work as a congressional affairs and corporate communications officer for the U.S. Army Recruiting Command at Fort Knox, followed by a 24-month stint in Afghanistan, before returning to recruiting command at Fort Knox. Before taking his current role in county government, London worked as director of strategic business with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Louisville on matters including congressional affairs, strategic business outreach and strategic planning.
London said in all his government employment roles he’s emphasized “optimization over taxation.”
A businessman with several real estate holdings, London described a personal aversion to tax increases.
“I have a voracious prejudice against taxes, particularly new taxes and raising taxes,” London said. “As a business owner and a taxpayer, I don’t want to see new taxes.”
While seeking efficiencies can extend beyond county government to working with local cities, London said he does not support unified county government. He has no plans to revive Hardin County United, an effort to study urban county government options which Berry advocated.
As deputy judge-executive, London said he thinks accomplishments at the county landfill and working with the Democratic county jailer are symbols of both his ability to find operational efficiencies and to work in a bipartisan manner.
London has organized a campaign committee and filed his first quarterly fundraising report with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance. It shows $100,675 raised in 75 days before any public announcement of his candidacy. He said a number of close friends have agreed to help his campaign and the money comes with no strings.
“They haven’t asked for anything and they don’t expect anything,” he said. “They know what they are going to get in terms of servant leadership.”
While stepping out early can draw a target for potential opponents and cause his work to be viewed through that prism, London said he expects the announcement to be met with little surprise. His interest in the job has been “the worst-kept secret in the county for a long time,” he said.
He considered it important to get started introducing himself to voters.
“We can do a lot of thing in a campaign,” London said. “We can always raise more money. We can always change tactics. But we can’t get more time.”
Berry accelerated the public announcement of his plans to step down at the close of his current four-year term in order to be able to openly support London’s candidacy.
“You can spend as long as I have in a job and not be caring about well, what’s going to happen when you leave,” Berry said. “You’d like to think that whoever’s coming after you understands what’s going on, how’d you get to where you are, how things are working. And I understand that’s not up to me. That’s up to the voters. But certainly I can make sure the voters, perhaps, have an option.”
Berry referred to London as highly skilled and focused using the analogy of a juggler.
“He has a lot of capacity to be able to do numerous things at the same time and focus on a number of things at the same time,” Berry said.
London said he realizes politics come with severe public scrutiny and his past includes blots. He openly discussed a failed marriage for which he accepts fault. In the interview, he talked about falling away from faith, his infidelity and an addiction to pornography.
“I’m a sinner like everyone else,” he said.
He sought professional counseling through Southeast Christian Church, where he later became a member and attends services at its Elizabethtown campus. He said friends and community members came to his aid as he worked to restart his life.
Since June 2016, he has been married to Deena London, who is president of Magnolia Bank.
Brian Prater, London’s campaign manager, said he was drawn to London by the candor and straightforward nature. Prater believes the same honesty that leads him to be open about his past mistakes will serve the community well.
“I think the thing that drew me to Daniel, as a friend before I knew anything about his politics, was his honesty. He’s straightforward and you don’t get that very much,” Prater said. “Everybody tries to hide behind a cloud. … He’s genuine. That’s what I really, really appreciate about him.”