Representative Buddy Wheatley was elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives for the 65th District in November 2018, where he now represents constituents in Covington, Park Hills, Fort Wright, Kenton Vale, Crestview Hills, and Edgewood.

Buddy Wheatley’s 20-year career as a Covington firefighter is part of a family legacy that spans four generations.  Along with his brother, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, the Wheatley family represents nearly 100 years of firefighting service to the people of Covington.

Born on Pleasant Street in the Eastside neighborhood, Buddy and his family (eventually a household of 14) moved to Parkway Avenue in West Covington, just a few feet from Devou Park.  He went to grade school at St. Ann’s School in West Covington and graduated from Ludlow High School in 1979.  He received his first BA from the University of Kentucky in 1983, majoring in journalism; a second BA in English from Northern Kentucky University in 1997. 

He was an award-winning journalist with the Kenton and Boone County Recorder newspapers before responding to the call of public service, switching careers to join the Covington Fire Department in 1988.  Buddy was active in the Covington Professional Firefighters IAFF Local 38 early in his fire department career, eventually serving as Secretary-Treasurer for eight years, and later elected to statewide Secretary-Treasurer of the Kentucky Professional Firefighters.

Buddy finished his firefighter career serving as Fire Chief of the Covington Fire Dept. from 2005-2008.  He attended NKU’s Salmon P. Chase Law School while serving as Fire Chief, eventually launching a career as a solo labor attorney, working on behalf of public sector labor unions. Buddy served as union vice-chair of the American Bar Association’s State and Local Government Collective Bargaining subcommittee, 2016-2019.

Buddy is married to Dr. Judi Wheatley Godsey, living in Covington’s Old Seminary Square neighborhood.  They have two daughters, Hannah and Amy.

Buddy takes inspiration from his amazing late mother, Doris Jane Wheatley.  While running a household of 12 children and a firefighter husband, Doris worked full time in Covington at the Monarch Tool and Dye Co. on East 4th Street.  Her unalterable commitment to family, faith, and community, and giving of herself to help others is what most inspires Buddy, and are characteristics he hopes to emulate most as your state representative.


  • One of 12 children, born on the Eastside; raised in West Covington; now lives in Old Seminary Square.

  • Fourth-generation Covington Firefighter — along with brother, father, grandfather, great grandfather, public service spans nearly 100 years

  • Married to Dr. Judi Godsey, RN, with two daughters and one grandchild

  • Education:

    • St. Ann Grade School in West Covington

    • Ludlow High School, 1979

    • The University of Kentucky, BA in Journalism, 1983

    • Northern Kentucky University BA in English, 1997

    • NKU Chase College of Law, J.D. 2009



  • Covington Firefighter, 1988-2008

  • Covington Fire Chief, 2005-2008

  • Kentucky Professional Fire Fighters, General Counsel, 2009 – present

  • Kentucky Professional Fire Fighters, Secretary-Treasurer, 2005

  • Covington Professional Fire Fighters, IAFF Local 38, Secretary/Treasurer, 1997-2005

  • Licking River Review Literary Magazine, Editor, 1996-97

  • Associate Editor: Kenton Country Recorder, 1984-1986


Service to the Community:

  • American Bar Association State and Local Government Bargaining,  sub-committee Co-Chair

  • Southbank Riverfront Commons Steering Committee, Current

  • Marge Schott-Unewehr Boys and Girls Club, Covington, Current

  • Steinford Toy Foundation, Current

  • Ludlow Youth Baseball and Soccer Coach, 1985-1991

  • Competitive Girls Soccer Coach, 1997-2005

Meet Buddy