I want to start by thanking Fort Thomas Matters for this opportunity to speak directly to the citizens of Fort Thomas. It is important for voters to know why candidates are running for office, and Fort Thomas Matters is a great communication tool to provide that information.
That said, I am running for the same reason I ran for the first time 20 years ago. That election was successful, and I have served on city council every year since then. My reason for running is the core value of striving to make Fort Thomas the most desirable place to live in the Greater Cincinnati region. That mindset causes me to be forward looking – to strive to make a great community even better.
When I first took office, a citizen involved visioning process had started. We had old and outdated school buildings. Our park system was not developed in a way that was even close to its potential. The center of town had utility poles running down the middle and there were several deteriorating gas stations at key intersections. We also had a business area by Tower Park that was in need of major redevelopment. These conditions were clearly inconsistent with a vision of being the best place to live in Greater Cincinnati. That citizen input from that process provided a roadmap for moving forward.
Based on the plan and a school board that worked closely with city council, we have been able to achieve virtually all of the goals that were envisioned by the plan. When Johnson school is completed, every school building will be attractive and consistent with the pride we can take in our schools.
Before the plan we had dilapidated amphitheater at Tower Park and all the picnic shelters were very deteriorated. Rossford Park only had baseball fields with rusted backstops and no restroom facilities. Implementing the plan has resulted in a park system that is not only great to use on a day to day basis, but has become a venue for many wonderful community events, such as Merchants and Music.
The business areas identified in the plan have all become very attractive leading to improved storefronts, new businesses and additional services for our citizens.
I could not be more pleased with the successes that have been achieved in the last 20 years.
With that success, the community could have a strong urge to rest on its laurels and consider the mission accomplished. I may have fallen into that trap for a short period. Then, under the leadership of Mayor Haas, a new visioning process was started. Although not finished, the process has again led to great ideas for bringing this community to yet a higher level – an even better place to live. Through the process, I have become more aware of the potential we have to take advantage of the Ohio River riverfront property and to realize the potential of the US 27 Corridor that runs through the south end of the city.
As to the riverfront, I have served on the board of Southbank Partners (an organization formed to coordinate riverfront redevelopment by the Northern Kentucky river cities) since its inception. Embracing a riverfront hike and bike trail as a key vision fits right into a greater vison for Northern Kentucky to have an iconic trail that complements the development on the north side of the river.
As to the US 27 opportunity, a new coalition has been formed with our neighboring cities, the County and Northern Kentucky University to reinvent what was at one time part of a main north/south highway for interstate travel. A large grant has been received to create a plan for redeveloping the corridor from the riverfront to NKU.
With my tenure on city council and my involvement with bringing our prior plan to reality, I am uniquely positioned to pursue the same success with our new plan. In my professional life I am a government finance attorney. On city council, I have chaired the finance committee for most of the years I have served. When trying to implement the new plan, financial considerations are critical. My background and experience will be helpful in developing a financial plan that will allow us to achieve the success we had with our prior plan.
The city is in good financial condition despite significant increases in pension and health care costs. However, investing in our next vision will take creative financial approaches. I am happy to provide my knowledge and experience to this plan.
Finally, I don’t want to forget to complement the people who provide the everyday services that citizens quite often take for granted. During my tenure, I have seen a police force and firefighters serve in a capacity that is unequaled. Our public works crews do a fantastic job of maintaining our parks, streets and other public property, such as the flowers in the middle of town. All this has been accomplished on a sound financial footing.
This is why I am running for office. I hope you share the excitement for the future of this community with me.