With election day nearly upon us, we at Fort Thomas Matters wanted to take the time to get to know our elected local government officials, the City Council. While the six members are running unopposed, it is still important to see their thoughts on the issues facing Fort Thomas. I asked the following five questions to each member (at time of publishing, Council member Jay Fossett was unable to be reached for comment).
1) What has been your best accomplishment on City Council and/or what do you most look forward to accomplishing?
2) What do you believe is the greatest issue facing Fort Thomas?
3) What would you say to a small business considering locating in Fort Thomas?
4) Why does local government matter? Could we not consolidate into larger governing bodies?
5) What prompted you to originally run for City Council?
Their unedited responses are below:
1. Since this will be my first term, I can only reference accomplishments while serving as Chair of Fort Thomas Renaissance. We administered a facade grant program that made great visible improvements to five main street properties in town including Best Furniture, Rawlings Real Estate, Highland Theater Building, Fort Thomas Pizza building, and Dr. Bowman's dentist office location. I also was involved in establishing Merchants & Music 9 years ago. It has grown to a regionally recognized and highly anticipated annual event.
One thing that I would really like to see would be the re-introduction of the walking path around south end reservoir. I'm not sure what obstacles there are, but hope to revisit the issue.
2. The elephant in the fiscal room would be CERS funding and upcoming negotiations related to pensions and benefits for city employees. There are many others that I reference in my platform document that are also important to address.
3. As a small business owner that will soon celebrate a 25 year anniversary of operating a retail business in Fort Thomas, (Bowman's Framing) I know that it can be done. I would highly encourage any operators with good business plans and lots of energy and dedication to locate here. This city could use a few more good independently operated businesses.
4. We need a strong and responsive local government to serve the needs of it's individual citizens. We do still need regional collaborations, and to work with neighboring communities and organizations so that we can avoid counter productive conflicts that may arise by not paying attention to our neighboring communities plans.
I feel that consolidation could result in a less responsive government to the local needs.
5. After 9 years as a city volunteer on the Renaissance Board, I became very familiar with local officials and operations. I wanted to be in a position to have a greater impact on the future of the city. I was a little torn when making the decision last year, because I felt that the current council was effective and really did not want to see any of them leave their position. It worked out well with that not being necessary since Jill Steller and Jim Doepker, who were both valuable members decided that it was time to pass the torch to some new members. I'm confident that with the addition of Jay Fosset and his great wealth of knowledge and experience, along with the other members we will have a very effective city council. I fully expect citizens to take advantage of my accessibility and stop in my shop from time to time to voice any concerns that they may have.
1. I am very proud of our vast improvements to our parks especially Rossford park. We live in an amazing city and having these unbelievable parks is great for the whole community. I would like to see some improvements made to the dog park in Highland Park. That area has an enormous amount of visitors each day... Rain, shine, or snow! It brings in a lot of people from other cities and could be a great asset to our local businesses!
2. I think the greatest issue facing Ft. Thomas is maintaining our strong sense of community and public safety. We have an excellent Police and Fire department who receive ongoing training and often go above and beyond to keep our neighborhoods safe. We have outstanding community events as well which draw visitors from other cities. I think it's vital to maintain and always strive to improve our sense of community which makes Ft.Thomas unique! I also would like to see some more small businesses come to town.
3. I would tell someone thinking of opening a business in town that once again Ft. Thomas is a great close knit community. I opened my own business, Dirty Hairy's Dog Spa and my business has grown leaps and bounds. Most business comes from word of mouth and recommendations from my current customers. We have a great sense of loyalty here in Ft. Thomas. It may be a slow start but once everyone knows you are there word will spread and happy customers will share and recommend your business to others. You can also join the Fort Thomas Business Association and work with others business owners. I would love to see some more businesses in town.
4. Local government is critical for maintaining the unique needs of each city. If you look at all the other cities around Ft.Thomas you will realize that each one is different in many ways. If we consolidated into larger governing bodies it wouldn't address the individuality of each city. What works in one town may not work well in others.
5. Initially in 2008 I ran for City Council to be more involved in the community and I was and still am very much opposed to the deer hunt!
I have learned so much being on Council and truly enjoyed it. It has been a great learning experience and I look forward to my next term.
1. I take the most satisfaction from my involvement with upgrading the appearance of the City through streetscape improvements at Midway, City Center and Inverness, together with the improvements to the City's parks.
2. We will be facing financial challenges, given the increasing contributions the City has to make to the retirement system pension fund.
3. With the improvements to the Midway, City Center and Inverness areas, we have created a great environment for small businesses to locate and grow.
4. Some consolidation of services may be appropriate, such as water and sewer service that has been consolidated throughout Northern Kentucky, but it is important that citizens feel connected to their local government and that they have the access that is appropriate to meet their needs.
5. See my answer to Question 1. When I first ran for council, the City was in need of a makeover in order to maintain its image as one of the most desirable places to line in the region. Much of that improvement has been accomplished.
1. The city went through a long-range plan visioning process years ago, that involved many citizens sharing their ideas and dreams for the city. That lead us to the business district improvements and most recently the park improvements.
2. Fort Thomas is a well-run, financially sound city, but we are impacted by the continuing financial burden of the state pension system that needs to fixed.
3. Fort Thomas can be an excellent place to operate a business. I would suggest a good business plan that emphasizes a marketing strategy that encourages feedback and listening to the customers. I believe good use of Social Media can be the key to success for a business locating in Fort Thomas.
4. I am intrigued by the concept of consolidated government, but more so by concept of continuing to look for ways to share services to lower our costs. It is nice to have a local governmental body that can be more responsive to the needs of the citizens.
5. Back in 1987, I was appointed to fill an unexpired term on the Newport City Commission. When I moved back to Fort Thomas, I was encouraged to run for council to fill a vacancy.
1. Personally, as Chairman of the Parks & Recreation Committee of Council, I’m proud of the improvements to the parks; specifically the new shelters and rest rooms in the parks, the new amphitheater in Tower Park, and the complete renovation of Rossford Park. In general, the best accomplishment by the whole council has been delivering high quality services to our citizens and improvements to our city while remaining fiscally responsible.
2. The CERs pension issues and the overall challenging economic environment.
3. Have a solid business plan and have financial strength/backing to last through the tough times. I would seek the advice from the longstanding successful businesses we have in our community and learn how they succeeded. If it is a potential retail business they will need strong marketing to attract customers from outside our city.
4. Why would you want larger government? I think Ft. Thomas is a unique and special town. I want our decisions to be made by our city staff and elected officials. That way we keep up with the same level of service our citizens are accustomed to. I want out own Police patrolling our streets and not compromise any services.
5. It is a way to give something back to my city where I love living. I look at it no different than volunteering at my parish, my children’s schools, or at a charitable organization where I can add value, experience, and perspective.
To learn more about your City Council members, go to http://www.ftthomas.org/Council.html (soon-to-be-elected officials do not yet have a bio posted). And don’t forget to vote on November 6!