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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Get to Know the Candidates: Q&A w/ Jeff Bezold, Running for City Council

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 an ongoing FTM series spotlighting candidates in the 2014 election. Incumbents and challengers are asked a nearly identical set of questions, then a second round of follow-up questions. This week I spoke with Jeff Bezold, running for Fort Thomas City Council.

Jeff Bezold, a candidate for Fort Thomas City Council, is a senior sales consultant for a medical supply manufacturer. Jeff lives on Kimberly Drive with his wife Denise and 3 young daughters, Lily, Isabelle, and Harper.

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

JB: Fort Thomas has been my home my entire life, born and raised. After spending my college years in Bowling Green, KY, there were a couple of different options for me to relocate, but with the majority of my family and a large number of my childhood friends living in Fort Thomas, I made the choice to return. 

I never realized how special Fort Thomas really was until I returned as an adult and started a family. There is no place on earth my wife Denise and I would rather raise our three little girls (Lily 3, Isabelle 2 & Harper 2), than here in Ft Thomas.

Currently, I consider myself a small business owner, as I own and manage manage several rental properties throughout the city, which has also given me experience with the inner workings of city administration.

This is my first time running for any public office, but, after graduating from Highlands High School, while attending NKU, I worked for the city in the Recreation Department. If elected, I'm very excited for the opportunity to be able to contribute and give back to the community that has given me so much. 

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

JB: Fort Thomas has a reputation as one of the best places to live in the state, and in the Greater Cincinnati area. In my opinion, there are many reasons for this: the Fort Thomas Independent School system, the Parks and Recreation Department events (everything from the 4th at the Fort and Merchants/Music Festivals to our dog and bike trails), the contribution of our police and fire departments to keep the streets safe, and the work of our city employees and elected officials to keep the city running smoothly while remaining beautiful. These are just a few of the reasons I chose to invest in Fort Thomas, by purchasing a home and raising my family. I want to see Fort Thomas continue to be ranked among the premium places to live in Kentucky and the Cincinnati area.

FTM: If elected, what will be the first issue you bring before council?

JB: Prior to deciding to run for City Council, I had many discussions with Fort Thomas residents about the city and what issues they were most concerned about. A large number of residents brought up the "deer issue" and what the plans were for the houses and property behind the softball fields at Tower Park (VA homes).  As a council member these are two issue I hope to be able to contribute to.

FTM: Both the deer issue and the VA homes have been heavily discussed by the previous Council over the last several years. Have your conversations with residents indicate that how the city is currently handling these issues isn't enough?

JB: The most common discussion or question asked by residents was "What are the plans for...?" This is for both the deer issue and the VA homes. Everyone, including myself, are very interested in having some sort of progress on the VA homes. The structures are gorgeous and unique with such a history behind them, and they need to be restored. It is my understanding that there will be significant cost, above the typical restoration.

As for the overpopulation of deer in the city, the general sense I've gotten from residents is that they are divided. Everyone I've spoken with agrees that there is a large number of deer that roam the city streets. My concern with the deer is not the destruction of property, but the safety that comes with having such a large population. Over the years, I have seen countless deer carcasses on the side of Memorial Parkway, Covert Run, Route 8, and other Fort Thomas streets. I know the city is doing everything it can to make sure the deer issue will be handled in the most appropriate and humane way possible.

FTM: Are there any issues you do believe City Council has, so far, failed to address adequately or at all that, as a council member, you would bring attention to?

JB: At this point, I do not know of any missed or failed opportunities. I am sure if any oversights were made, the current council did their best to make the best decision possible with the information in which they had access.

FTM: What specific actions would you take as a council member to ensure the continued growth of small, locally-owned businesses in Fort Thomas?

JB: In my eyes bringing and maintaining business in Ft Thomas is extremely important. As a member of council, I would be open to discussing the successes that surrounding communities have had with the growth of their small business within the city. Most importantly, discussing what is important to current and potential new business owners is crucial to finding out how the city can contribute to their success. These conversations along with any and all community involvement during the council meetings would contribute to the recipe for success.

FTM: Which city/cities in NKY stand out to you as particularly successful at promoting small business?

JB: As an example, Bellevue may be a good resource to have with regards to Fairfield Avenue and the revitalization of these businesses. During the summer, the sidewalks, shops, and restaurants are lined with people looking to experience a little bit of local flair.

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

JB: I am a huge fan of all the events the city hosts. Anytime a well organized social event takes place in the community, one which you are proud to be a part of, is a home run for me. Having an opportunity to get together with friends, family and other members of the community in one of our exciting parks or along one of the beautiful streets of Fort Thomas just reassures me that I have made the correct decision to remain a Fort Thomas resident and raise my family in this wonderful city. 

But if I can only choose one event it would have to be the Merchants/Music festival... John Michael Montgomery, Dustin Lynch, Jo Dee Messina, The Carter New Band, The Rusty Griswalds... That is impressive!

FTM: Even though the City Council elections are non-partisan, do you have a political party of affiliation you wish to identify?

JB: I am a registered Republican; however, I agree and disagree with views on both sides of the isle.

Photo: Jeff Bezold, candidate for Fort Thomas City Council/FTM file

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