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Friday, January 10, 2014

Get to Know Your City Council: Q&A with Councilman Ken Bowman

Fort Thomas City Councilman Ken Bowman (image via City of Fort Thomas)

Reporter, Fort Thomas Matters

This year, all six Fort Thomas City Council members, along with Mayor Mary Brown, face re-election. As part of FTM's efforts to keep you, the Fort Thomas electorate, informed and prepare you for the upcoming election season, the Q&A below is part of a new FTM series called "Get to Know Your City Council." Each participant is asked the same set of 7 initial questions, then a second round of follow-up questions based on their responses. A conversation with Ken Bowman kicks off the series.

Councilman Ken Bowman joined City Council in 2012, but that was not the start of his service to the Fort Thomas community (as he explains below). A local entrepreneur, he is the owner and proprietor of Bowman's Framing, located at 103 N. Ft. Thomas Ave., as well as an associate with Huff Realty. During his time on City Council, he has served as the Chairman of the Public Utilities and Buildings Committee and is a member of the Recreation Committee and the Public Works Committee.

Mr. Bowman lives on Altamont Ct.

FTM: What has been your personal connection to Fort Thomas specifically, and Northern Kentucky more broadly?

KB: I have been in Fort Thomas all of my life, with the exception of ages 16 to 21. Northern Kentucky as a whole is very interconnected, as illustrated most recently by the development of Newport Pavilion. I have been a loyal public servant for the last 12 years or so, starting with my involvement with Fort Thomas Forward -- a citizen volunteer committee formed to develop an urban design and streetscape plan for central Fort Thomas -- and serving on the Renaissance Board for nine years prior to City Council. 

Now, I serve on the "Midway There" committee, which is a great group of people with high hopes for revitalizing the Midway district, starting with the Stables building. I also chair the Public Utilities and Buildings Committee, and serve on the Recreation and Public Works Committee. I also served on the Midway steering committee, and the Campbell County PVA assessment appeals board for three years.

Additionally, on a more personal level, through my work at Bowman's Framing, I regularly talk with other residents about concerns they may have. I am probably the most accessible council member and fully expected to have "walk-in" conversations with constituents when I ran for my first term.

FTM: It seems that much of your work with the city, then, has to do with buildings and utilities, particularly in our historic districts. How would you say your experience in real estate has influenced your work with the city?

KB: I have always been interested in real estate, and particularly historic preservation. This perspective is important in dealing with issues around development as well as the re-purposing of existing properties. I have been a licensed agent with Huff Realty for 10 years now, which helps in research, etc.

FTM: What, in your opinion then, makes Fort Thomas one of Northern Kentucky's best places to live and/or raise a family?

KB: To me, Fort Thomas is without question the most desirable place to live and raise a family. The quality of the schools, safety, great parks and amenities, wide range of housing options, close proximity to other metropolitan areas, and great local business offerings are just a few of the reasons that come to mind.

FTM: In what specific ways during your tenure on City Council have you worked to promote the Fort Thomas business community? 

KB: I am a constant advocate for small business operators. Most recently, I was involved in adjusting parking times for Ft. Thomas Coffee, to provide convenient access to customer parking during peak business hours. Also, I recently advocated for earlier Sunday liquor sales, changing the allowed time of sale from 1:00 p.m. to 11:00 a.m. This allows businesses like Ft. Thomas Pizza, which opens early for breakfast, to compete with all the neighboring cities for patrons.

FTM: What issue(s) brought before council over the last two years have been most important to you?

KB: One of the most important and frustrating issues that has been before us would be the 10 vacant Alexander Circle houses in the Fort (VA homes). This will eventually be a fantastic development, but we have been in a bureaucratic log-jam with the federal government. We hope to have this project underway and out for a bid in the coming year.

FTM: If re-elected, what will you prioritize for the coming two years of Fort Thomas legislation?

KB: I would very much like to revisit the Homeland Security mandate that closed the Midway Reservoir walking paths from public use. This has never made sense to me, and, if possible, I would like to see this great amenity re-opened to the public. I would also like to amend some zoning ordinances that impede small business operators from opening in Ft. Thomas.

FTM: Which zoning ordinances do you see impeding small business in the city?

KB: We have some ordinances in place that require off-street parking for commercial operations based on amount of square-footage used for the business. In many cases, this requirement is not possible to meet due to location limitations, and rather than seeking a variance, many business operators chose to just look elsewhere. There are several steps that could be taken to encourage more Mom-and-Pop and other unique shops to open in town while preserving the character that we all want to protect.  

FTM: Of all the city-wide events Fort Thomas hosts each year, which is your favorite?

KB: It should be no surprise that my favorite event is the Merchants and Music Festival. From the first one ten years ago with Pure Prairie League (and my old band), this event has brought great exposure to our city and business community. It is a great investment that I hope to see continuing for years to come. The efforts of the Renaissance Board cannot be overstated. I know from experience how much work goes into this event behind the scenes, and they all deserve a huge thank you for the hard work.

FTM: What is your political party affiliation, if any.

KB: While city council seats are truly non-partisan, I am a registered Democrat.

1 comment:

  1. Very involved resident. Liked his ideas in his brief time in council. Ken deserves another term. Thanks FTM.