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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Get to Know the Candidates: Q&A w/ Councilwoman Lisa Kelly

Fort Thomas Councilwoman Lisa Kelly (photo: City of Fort Thomas)

This year, all six Fort Thomas City Council members will be up for reelection, including 3 incumbents. 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 the Candidates." Each participant is asked the same initial set of questions, then a second round of follow-up questions based on their responses. This week, I spoke with Councilwoman Lisa Kelly.

Councilwoman Lisa Kelly has served three terms on Fort Thomas City Council, and is now seeking a fourth. Kelly, a lifelong resident of Fort Thomas, is the owner of Dirty Hairy's Dog Spa, a grooming facility in the historic Hiland Building in Central Fort Thomas, on North Fort Thomas Ave. She currently serves as the Chair of the Recreation Committee and is a member of the Law-Labor-License Committee and the Public Utilities and Buildings Committee. Kelly has two children, a daughter at NKU and son at Highlands High School. She lives on Strathmore Ave.

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

LK: I have lived in Fort Thomas almost all of my life, and have chosen to raise my children here. Most of my family and friends live in Fort Thomas. My daughter, Alex, just graduated from Highlands and started at NKU. My son, Max, is currently a sophomore at Highlands. I personally attended St. Thomas Elementary and Newport Central Catholic High School.

I can't imagine a better community than what we have here. With my dog grooming business, Dirty Hairy's, being located in Fort Thomas, we draw primarily from Northern Kentucky, and so I feel a connection to the entire region.

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

Naturally, our school system is high on the list, and the support of that system from the community as a whole is amazing to see. The walkability and safety of our streets can't be beat. The several parks, walking trails and other amenities that we have here add a lot to its desirability. Having this small town feel, while still being so close to downtown, and other shopping options is a big plus. The established businesses here in our city also add to its charm.

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

Being a small business owner myself, I fully understand and support the idea of "shopping local." I prefer to shop and support the businesses in Fort Thomas any way I can. I often refer my customers to other local businesses in town. Social media is an excellent way to promote and share the other resources and shops in town with family and friends.
Specifically, one example would be my support for the outdoor seating proposal brought before council. Not only has it been beneficial to the restaurant owners, but the whole community, as well. It's great to see the vibrancy along the avenue that this has created.

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

The most important issue to come before council in the last two years would have to be the vacant homes in Alexander Circle (VA homes). I am thrilled that the process is finally moving forward, and we should see it begin to take shape in the next year or so.
It seems that nothing moves public participation in government like issues involving animals. The recent debate over permitted dog breeds did find me clearly on the side of the animal owners. The overwhelming sentiment of those who came before council was also no the side of animal owners' rights, but the final decision went the other way.

At the very least, I see this as a property rights issue. No government, no matter how big or small, should be able to interfere with its residents' property. 

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

I look forward to creating some dialogue and change to our current speed limits on many of our side streets. The "25 mph unless otherwise posted" standard should be re-evaluated. The thought of children popping out from in between parked cars into traffic should be considered on a street-by-street basis.

I feel that there is room for improvement in transparency of council proceedings that would seek more involvement from citizens. Greater advertising of meetings and better media coverage of ongoing issues would improve the process for the city as a whole. It would be great to see more resident involvement in the public meetings. We should be seeking and listening to input from the public, as they are who we are working for.

Also, I expect to have some needed changes to our current vicious animal ordinance that would actually promote public safety. There have been several proposals relating to leash laws, penalties, spay/neutering, micro-chipping, and licensing that need further examination.

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

There are several great events hosted here each year. If I have to choose, the Fourth at the Fort would top the list. Such a long tradition of community involvement and the celebration of our history is always great to see. I have such fond memories as a child of attending the parade, and it's great to see the crowd and enthusiasm grow each year.
Merchants and Music has also grown into a regional success story that shines a very favorable light on our great, little city. It just keeps getting bigger and better each year.

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