Thursday, May 25, 2000

Battle lines drawn in mayor race

Moorman, Callery stake out positions

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — When voters in Northern Kentucky's largest city choose a new mayor this fall, they will decide between two veteran politicians with sharply contrasting philosophies and management styles.

        Former Mayor Bernie Moorman, with 25 years of political experience at the city and county level, will run against 21-year City Commissioner Butch Callery for the four-year job.

        Eliminated from contention in Tuesday's primary were Interim Mayor Jim Eggemeier and Ray “Radar” Murphy, a Kenton County deputy sheriff.

        Mr. Moorman, who surprised many political observers when he emerged as Tuesday's top vote-getter, said he offers broader experience than his opponent, and would take a more regional approach to city issues, especially those involving transportation or recreation.

        The 62-year-old owner of a bed and breakfast in the Historic Licking-Riverside Neighborhood cited his experience as a Kenton County commissioner and his memberships in various groups, such as the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments.

        Mr. Callery, 59, who can trace his political involvement to a 1978 grass-roots effort that stopped proposed coal docks in his Latonia neighborhood, has established a reputation as an unofficial city ombudsman, fielding residents' questions and concerns on a variety of issues.

        As mayor, Mr. Callery said he would continue that practice, and he would stay in touch with neighborhoods through regular visits and by holding City Commission meetings in various neigh borhoods, as issues warrant.

        In light of a recent state report that criticized the services Covington's public school system provides, Mr. Moorman said he would like to see city government take a more active role in the schools, by publicly supporting the system's efforts at improvement, and offering financial advice, when warranted.

        In recent years, Mr. Callery said city commissioners have met with the Covington school board twice a year to discuss issues of common concern, and will continue to offer assistance, if requested by the school board.

        Other suggestions offered by Mr. Moorman include:

        << „Creating more parks, and exploring the feasibility of a regional consortium to share in the operation and financial upkeep of Devou Park.

        „An aggressive effort to fill vacant positions in Covington's Housing and Economic Development departments, and to generate revenues for infrastructure improvements and services benefiting the whole city.

        „Switching from combined caucus/legislative meetings every other week to a weekly meeting schedule that alternates caucuses, or discussions of city issues, with voting meetings, for more input from the public and department heads.

        Mr. Callery said his priority, if elected, would be to use revenues << from proposed developments, such as Riverfront West, to increase public safety manpower and equipment, and better protect Covington's homes, businesses and tourists.

        Mr. Callery said the City Commission plans to fill key vacancies in the Economic Development Department after July 15, when a new state law takes effect that would remove those jobs from civil service protection and make it easier to fire workers who don't perform.

        The veteran city commissioner said Covington's practice of holding combined caucus and legislative meetings every other week allows for public comment, and has generated no citizen complaints.



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