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Monday, March 7, 2016

Meet Roger Peterman: Candidate for Fort Thomas City Council

Roger Peterman. FTM file. 
I am not originally from Fort Thomas, but have lived in the City for over 30 years.  My children, Christina, Liz and Rob, all attended and graduated from Fort Thomas schools. My wife Mary and I have been actively engaged in the community since we first moved here.  I have served on city council for 8 terms (going on 16 years). 

When we first moved here, I didn’t have any thoughts of running for office. I became active in other civic ventures and have had the good fortune to have served on the boards of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, the Tri-County Economic Development Corporation (a three county organization promoting Northern Kentucky) and HealthPoint (a community health center with clinics throughout Northern Kentucky).

At this time, I continue to be active in civic affairs, serving on the boards of St. Elizabeth Hospital, the Northern Kentucky Port Authority (as chair), Southbank (which promotes development in the Ohio river cities of Kentucky) and the Covington Business Council (which promotes business in Covington, where my law office is located).  Mary served in several roles while our children were in school, including, most notably, being one of the founders of the Fort Thomas Education Foundation. She now serves on the Brighton Center Board (a comprehensive social service organization focusing on workforce readiness, housing and other community needs).

In my working life, I have practiced as a municipal bond attorney for 32 years.  That practice has given me the opportunity to focus my entire professional career on public finance – how states and local governments fund their budgets and capital projects. In addition to working with several state agencies and universities on their financing needs, I have worked with cities, counties and special districts throughout the state.  My work has allowed me to discuss tax, development and financing policy with leaders across the state, at every different level of government.  

I have worked with the Kentucky League of Cities and Kentucky Association of Counties for almost 30 years, developing financing programs that have been used by local governments in virtually every county of the state.

Given my interests and participation in civic matters, running for city council seemed to be a natural progression.  Although Fort Thomas has always been a desirable place to live, when I first ran, I had become concerned that success had led to complacency.  That we needed to look forward, as a city, to make sure we continued to be one of the most desirable places to live in the greater Cincinnati area.

Fifteen years ago, the city was showing a lot of wear, and was in danger of falling behind.  With the forward looking approach that has existed since I have been on council, we have been able to revitalize the Downton Business District, then the Inverness area and finally the Midway District (by Tower Park).  We have also revitalized our park system, which was blessed with an abundance of land, but was not realizing its potential as a community asset.  The improvements to the playgrounds, the amphitheater and picnic shelters in Tower Park and Highland Park are not only wonderful to use, but have created an image for the city that makes us the envy of all Northern Kentucky.  Rossford Park was developed from a few Spartan ball fields into, arguably, the nicest park in the city.  It has truly been an honor to have run to accomplish this make-over and then to have actually participated in it becoming a reality.

Please don’t misunderstand.  I only had a small part in bringing this city to the place where it is today.  Credit really goes to the great sense of volunteerism and sense of community that exists in Fort Thomas.  Innumerable citizens have contributed their time and talents to making Fort Thomas the most livable city in greater Cincinnati.  It has been a great pleasure to have been a part of all we accomplished over the last several years and to have seen this community commitment achieve results.

So after all that, why keep running?  To a certain extent, I just can’t get enough of a good thing.  We have several new council members and a new chief administrative officer.  Mayor Haas has challenged us to look forward once again.  We are about to start a strategic planning process, so in a sense, it’s back to the future.  With the institutional knowledge I have gathered over my previous eight terms, I feel I have a lot to offer along this path of trying to make the best even better.

Although I have focused my entire discussion on community development, I caution everyone not to take other city services for granted.  Institutional knowledge has some value in these sometimes underappreciated areas, as well.  Having served on the committee to consolidate public safety dispatching in the county and currently serving on the public safety committee, I have had firsthand experience with how public safety works and how fortunate I am to live in this city.  The culture of our police force and fire/life support force is something everyone needs to be thankful for. 

I also don’t want to leave out the city’s support for the schools.  We have had several opportunities to engage in joint ventures to improve the community, and we need to keep doing that.

So that is who I am and why I am running again.  Thank you for your support and your commitment to engaging in the most livable community in greater Cincinnati.

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