Shawn Reilly

Wow, this is already an interesting election cycle. And it’s what ? December?

“Say No to Bridge Tolls” founder Shawn Reilly has filed to run for the 19th Senate District race, the district where longtime Kentucky State Sen. Tim Shaughnessy is retiring.  Shaughnessy announced last month he will not seek reelection after 23 years.

Reilly is running as a progressive Democrat in the Shaughnessy tradition. That said, Curtis Morrison, an Insider Louisville contributor who blogs at Louisville Courant, reported last month that Reilly shouldn’t exactly expect Shaughnessy to join him on the campaign trail.

The most interesting element to Reilly entering the race is that be brings a ready-made constituency.

Dan Borsch and Reilly co-founded “Say No to Bridge Tolls’  about a year ago, a group opposed to tolling existing bridges and infrastructure to pay for the the gargantuan Ohio River Bridges Project.

Reilly, Borsch and their members gathered 10,000 signatures on a “No Tolls” petitions that went to government officials including Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels.

That kind of organizational ability might come in pretty handy in a contested election.

In the news release announcing his candidacy, Reilly notes he’s getting started now even though state redistricting isn’t complete.

“By filing a letter of intent I am able to start building a campaign team, raising money and communicating with the voters before re-districting is settled. After the lines are drawn and I am officially in the District, I will be a candidate for State Senate,” he wrote.

The 19th Senate Senate District currently includes Audubon/Audubon Park, the Highlands, Srathmoor area just south of the Highlands, St. Matthews, Bon Air, Hikes Point, Stony Brook and parts of Jeffersontown.

Here’s Reilly’s complete bio from the release. (The bit about gun violence is interesting considering the NRA owns this state.):

Shawn Reilly was born in Louisville, Ky. on May 24th 1982; he is the son of Mark and Jo Ann Reilly. He was

raised along with his two brothers and sister in the Hikes Point area, and attended St. Martha Catholic School.

Shawn graduated from Trinity High School and the University of Louisville, majoring in political science. To

help pay for college, he worked summers framing houses and working on construction sites. Those summers

gave him an appreciation for hard work and taught him the value of labor.


Shawn also experienced tragedy during that period. On October 12, 2003 he witnessed the murder of his

longtime friend and roommate Zachary Scarpellini. In a Highlands’ neighborhood Zach was shot multiple times

by Adam Barker, who later committed a second murder in the area. Zach, a St. X grad was attending

Bellarmine University when his life was taken. The ensuing investigation and murder trial took several years

and ended with the jury delivering the maximum sentence in October 2009. This senseless tragedy left Shawn

with a passion for raising awareness of gun violence, understanding of the need for common sense gun laws,

and a dedication to seeing Americans free from the fear of needless gun violence.


During college Shawn met Stephanie Pieper and following a four-year courtship, they were married in the

summer of 2011. Their wedding was held at St. Agnes Catholic Church, the same church where Stephanie’s

parents were married. Shawn and Stephanie have made their home in the Upper Highlands, where Shawn is a

member of the neighborhood association’s board. Stephanie is a graduate of Assumption High School and

Bellarmine University, where she now works as the Assistant Alumni Director.


In 2008 Shawn began work as a Financial Advisor with Waddell & Reed in Louisville. There he has learned first-

hand about the economic pressures facing our middle class families. In his job, he hears everyday how people

struggle financially to make ends meet, while still wanting to be able to send their children to college, and save

for retirement. Shawn works to develop comprehensive, personal financial plans so working families can find

real solutions that turn their dreams into reality.


Shawn has a history of grassroots political activity. At the height of the Iraq war in 2006, he began working for

congressional candidates who opposed the war. Later, he worked on political campaigns for candidates

running for governor and judicial posts. He has worked with issue campaigns such as the Iraq Summer

Campaign, where he was the Field Director and sought to hold Sen. Mitch McConnell accountable for his

support of that war. Shawn has worked on staff with Working America, a community affiliate of the AFL-CIO,

that addresses the priorities mattering most to working people–not just wealthy special interests.


Along with Dan Borsch, Shawn co-founded ‘Say NO to Bridge Tolls’ in February of 2010. ‘Say NO to Bridge

Tolls’ is a broad-based community group opposed to tolling existing bridges and infrastructure to pay for the

Ohio River Bridges Project. The group successfully lobbied city governments in the region resulting in “No

Tolls” resolutions being passed in Louisville, Jeffersonville, New Albany and six other cities and counties. This

organization also collected over 10,000 signatures on a “No Tolls” petition sent to the Governors and Federal

Government. Its biggest success came in June of 2011, when cost-saving alternatives were announced by the

Governors of Indiana and Kentucky and by Mayor Fischer. These alternatives would cut $1.2 Billion from

Bridges Project and reduce the need for tolls.


Shawn is a member of St. Agnes Catholic Church, CLOUT, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, the Metro

Democratic Club, and the Ancient Order of Hibernians. Shawn also serves on an Advisory Board for Boys and

Girls Haven, whose mission is to shelter, heal, and teach young people to become productive and healthy

members of our community.