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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Get to Know the Candidates: Q&A with John Muller, 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 elections. Incumbents and challengers are asked a nearly identical set of questions, then a second round of follow-up questions, if necessary. This week we spoke with John Muller, running for Fort Thomas City Council.

John Muller, a candidate for Fort Thomas City Council, is a businessman serving as a Nursing Home Administrator and is also a licensed Physical Therapist. John works for Carespring Healthcare Management as an executive vice president for the corporation which has retirement and nursing care facilities throughout the Tri-State. John lives with his family on Fischer Lane in Fort Thomas.

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

JM: One of the best choices my wife Terri and I ever made was moving to Ft. Thomas more than 15 years ago. We are raising our family here; we have two children at Moyer Elementary and one child at Highlands Middle School.  We both work or have worked locally as well.  I began working for Highlandspring of Fort Thomas as the Director of Rehabilitation in 1999 and have worked in various roles with the company ever since.  Terri began working for Highlandspring in 2001 and works there today.  We are very fortunate to both work and live in our community and through my work, I have been able to meet and serve many Fort Thomas residents and neighbors over the years.  I serve on the Branch Board of the Campbell County YMCA and have since 2006.  I’m also very active in the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce serving on the Board of Advisors and have participated in the Leadership Northern Kentucky program.  This experience was invaluable in learning aspects of Northern Kentucky that I might not have experienced otherwise.

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

Fort Thomas is not only one of the best places to live and raise a family in the Tri-State area, it is one of the best places in the mid-west and likely the nation. The quality of life the residents of Fort Thomas enjoy is fantastic.  Some the most notable of these: the safety and services of the City, the quality of the schools, the businesses and services offered within the City, the ease of access to downtown and the metro area, world class provision of healthcare and post-secondary education can be accessed within minutes.  You may not realize until you need them indeed we have access to excellent essential services.  Even with all these amenities it is the people of Fort Thomas that make it the finest.  Our family had a health crisis after we lived here a few years.  Our family was as supportive as they could be indeed they live away.  Our neighbors and friends as well as community members we had never known were so supportive there are not words or deeds to thank them enough.  Our community made a significant difference in our lives; this is a primary reason I want to serve on City Council in order to make a positive contribution back the City.

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

My first job will always be to listen to the citizens first, then act.  In healthcare we routinely utilize plan-do-study-act model for continuous improvement, this is hardwired into the way I think.  I am not running because I have an axe to grind with any particular issue or concern.  We are fortunate to have a solid foundation and tradition of leadership and good governance within the City.  An example of a concern would be looking at the system of economic development that the City could facilitate.  The City has made significant improvements to the streetscapes and parks.  While we have many thriving businesses there are more than a few opportunities for businesses to locate here.  As we all walk, bike or drive around town you can see the vacancies, I’m very interested in what can we do as a City to make Fort Thomas move attractive to business owners to set up shop here – delivering services and creating local jobs.  As a business person, I am well-suited to understand the needs of small business and to work to recruit more great businesses to our community.

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

I will work for our council to review the economic development plan including a competitive analysis of other communities, tax incentives and overall business-friendly climate.  We must look at issue of parking and services that impact the decision of businesses to locate in Fort Thomas. We must seek to strengthen the business community we have and there is no better vehicle than the Fort Thomas Business Association and local business owners.  We must understand what works for them, why they chose to set up shop here, and what obstacles could the City alleviate to spur more development within the existing open retail space.  The City should have access to examples and best practices that have been utilized throughout the Commonwealth via membership in the Kentucky League of Cities. City Council and Administration should then go about the work of responsibly acting on the feedback and examples.

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

I believe the City should keep the pressure up on the VA homes in Tower Park, re-opening the walking paths around the reservoirs, and continue to support our Police and Fire Departments as well as we have in the past. Governing is about choices, and we all are doing more with less in today’s economic climate.  My priorities are clear—safety, protecting our families, children and seniors, infrastructure and providing an outstanding livable community and business climate.
Improvements to Route 8 are necessary, an important artery for Fort Thomas, which the Commonwealth is responsible to do.  The unfortunate reality is we in Fort Thomas as well as Northern Kentucky send more money to Frankfort than we will ever get back.  We as a City should continue to work with our state legislators to get Route 8 into the transportation plan as well as other Commonwealth funded projects, initiatives and incentives that will benefit Fort Thomas.  I have experience with lobbying in Frankfort and will be a positive advocate for our city.

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

There are parades and, above all others, there is the Fort Thomas 4th of July Parade!  It amazes me every year the amounts of Fort Thomas residents and beyond that attend the Parade – rain or shine.  Literally thousands of people year in and year out come out to honor the City, Commonwealth, Nation and our particular history.  The 4th of July activities are a real highlight of Fort Thomas.  Each member of our family that served in WWII came through the Fort Thomas even though they lived in Louisville or Ohio.  It gives me chills to think about events in the Mess Hall and recalling stories my Grandfather told about having to pull KP duty in the very same location almost 70 years ago.

Even though the City Council election is non-partisan, do you have a political affiliation you wish to identify?

I suspect non-partisan elections are set up that way for a reason. In my opinion, we need less partisanship in government and more doing….partisan politics often divides us.  I look forward to serving in city government where the focus is on the best solutions rather than some partisan agenda.  I always vote for the best candidate and believe that a person’s character and values are what is most important in elections.

I am in this race for the right reasons, to use my skills as a husband, father and business executive to make a positive difference for our community.

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