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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Election Recap

As you surely know by now I will not be one of six people representing Fort Thomas for the next two years on City Council. I did however want to offer my insights and thoughts on the process, results, and where we go from here.

1. The result - We basically switched out Barbara Thomson-Levine for Lisa Kelly which in my view was a net loss for the city. Barbara did a great job coming from no where in the last election and winning a seat on council. This was much to the chagrin of the current council members and the mayor who feels there is a process to represent those in the community and it comes by appointment (a la Jill Steller). I say the people choose and Barbara gave us confidence that the people still choose - not the elite in the community. Barbara had a tough job from day one and her voice was never able to rise above the old mentality that exists among the leadership.

Lisa will have an extremely difficult time getting anything accomplished. I imagine it will an incredibly difficult two years being a dissenting voice. Lisa is generally a one issue candidate that I feel was largely elected on the strength of her ballot position (1st) and the hard work she showed in the final two weeks of the campaign.

2. The process - I had a great time campaigning. I enjoyed knocking on doors and meeting so many people - over 2,000 homes with the help of the firefighters. We worked very hard on this campaign. I was the only council candidate to march in the Independence Day parade, I was the only candidate who knocked on doors (and many people indicated the only candidate in decades that did so), and we had more yard signs than any other candidate. With that being said, we misjudged five important things that affected the outcome:
  1. Demographic shift - I really thought there was a bigger shift occurring in the community that would carry the day for me. I believed that like me there were many young families with small kids that had moved into the community and wanted to be engaged in it. Based on the results I have to include that the older demographic is still the largest population group. I also believe that many of those younger families are just not engaged enough to know which candidates to vote for.
  2. Over-estimated how influential some issues apparently were - I really thought the deer issue, the lack of contract for the fire fighters, the lack of retail, and the apparent feeling that council wasn't listening would carry me as well. I had hundreds of people ask me if I was an incumbent when I knocked on their door and my answer was always no. Their reply was universally 'then you have my vote'.
  3. The power of incumbency (especially at the local level) - The majority of Fort Thomas residents have lived in Fort Thomas for a very long time, in many cases grew up there and are the second or third generation of residents in that family. The power of having run multiple times and having gone to school with or done business with or lived next too is too strong even for the issues. I have only lived in Fort Thomas 4 years - apparently much too short to have the name recognition needed to win a seat.
  4. The impact the national races would have on this race - I believe the national race pulled out more voters who were primarily interested in the presidential race and knew nothing about the local race which only exacerbated point number 5....
  5. Ballot Positioning - having the last spot on the ballot stinks. I am disappointed that our democracy comes down to who is listed first on the ballot. I had hoped that like myself more people would want to know the issues and vote for the candidate that mostly closely represents them. Unfortunately it comes down to what is most convenient and that is the first six spots on the ballot.
3. What I learned

A. Fort Thomas is a great community and much more diverse than I ever thought.
B. There are many issues in the community that are not being addressed
  • People want trash cans all around the city - not just in the Midway and Central Business District. Many people walk their dogs or eat ice cream cones on their walk and want a place to deposit their trash when they are blocks away from the intersection of Highland & Ft Thomas Ave. A good location for these additional trash cans would be at the bus stops.
  • While we are talking of trash cans - they need to be emptied more often. The cans are always over-flowing and it provides a bad impression for visitors and residents alike
  • The folks on Willow Dr feel completely ignored
  • The city owns a right of way between two homes on Fort Thomas Ave that run between Fort Thomas Ave & the school. This is not a problem in and of itself but the city refuses to maintain the asphalt on the right of way.
  • Many residents on Lumley want a speed hump to stop people from driving 45 mph where children play
  • The firefighters need a new contract. Two years is too long without a pay increase
  • Many people hate the hunting ordinance. Despite what council thinks there is a large number of people all across town that have horror stories - not just a small vocal minority that attended council meetings last winter.

C. How difficult it is to get good information on local candidates. This is something I heard time and again.
People generally want to be informed about local elections (beyond standard candidate bios, although that is difficult to come by as well) but can't find a good source for that information. They want to know what the issues are and where the candidates stand on those issues. Hopefully this site can continue to be that for the community - beyond the stale news about the local charity dance that is found in the Recorder or Fort Thomas Living.


  1. I appreciate your comments and your point of view. I am one of the new young family residents and I am also disappointed that the decades of residency in the city has made folks so complacent on lots of important issues. Ft. Thomas is a nice place to live, but it could be so much nicer. In my opinion, we are stuck in a rut and need some forward thinking representation. I'm really sorry you were last on our ballot.

  2. I too am disappointed at the election results. I only voted for you, Barbara Thomson-Levine AND I voted for Jill Steller. Even though Jill is a native I think she will be responsive and hopefully will not just go with though old guard on issues. I hope that you will not give up on trying to bring focus to new retail and other issues in the city. Your forum will grow in time. I try to forward it to lots of people. Maybe in two years you will run again?

  3. There is a chance I will run again in 2 years, but 2 years is an eternity. A lot can happen and I will wait and see where the best use of my time and ideas are. I hope to find ways to provide input beyond this blog and interject myself into the process where I can. It would be disingenuous to criticize and only write about the issues and not get involved.

  4. I too would have liked to see fresh faces on the council. I am a single mother with a young daughter. I moved here five years ago from Indiana, because of the schools and the great community. I see everyday how the city is ran to the interest of the few and not the majority. The only way for that to change is by us. I do know that Lisa Kelly also knocked on doors and spoke to many people in our community. I saw her out campaigning more than one day. I think she can handle the council just fine, she has taken them on before. I personally was a little unsure about your stand on many issues.

  5. I am sorry you were unsure of my stand on issues. I was the only candidate with a website that explicitly spelled out my positions on the issues, one of two candidates that were endorsed by the fire fighters, and also have been communicating my positions on the issues through this blog for a year. I also responded to many questions through email because I was accessible and none of the other candidates were.