Wednesday, July 19, 2000

Closer to home

Defections, and other issues

        Enough of GW and Gore the Bore. Let's dig into some local politics.

        Burying the Democrats. Well, another Boone County Democratic officeholder has jumped ship and joined the GOP.

        The latest defector is Boone County Coroner Doug Stith, who actually switched parties way back in January but hasn't talked much about it since.

        “I did it for personal reasons,” said Mr. Stith, 40, who was elected as a Democrat in 1998. “The majority of my friends and the majority of people in my age group are Republican or have turned Republican.

        “I agree a little more with some of the (Republican) philosophies,” he said.

        Mr. Stith, whose father, Don, was county coroner from 1970 to 1998, is the latest in a long line of Boone County Democratic office-holders who switched to Republican.

        Included in that group are jailer John Schickel, Boone County Judge-executive Gary Moore, Sheriff Mike Helmig and former commonwealth attorney Willie Mathis.

Familiar face
        The return of Denny Stein. Former Villa Hills Mayor Denny Stein, defeated almost two years ago by the embattled Steve Clark, will file election papers today to run for City Council this fall.

        “I really miss it. I can't lie about that,” said Mr. Stein, 53, who spent 13 years on council — including nine as mayor — before being defeated in 1998.

        “I still feel like I have a lot to offer,” he said Tuesday.

        Mr. Clark has clashed often with council since taking office in 1998. He is not up for re-election in the fall, but council members are on the ballot.

        Mr. Clark is also the subject of an investigation by the Attorney General's Public Corruption Unit, which is looking into a $25,025 check Mr. Clark sent to a Florence concrete company for sidewalk construction. Under state law, Mr. Clark should have put the project out to bid, but he failed to do so.

        Mr. Clark has acknowledged sending the check, and that it was a mistake. The check was not cashed and the money was returned to the city.

        Meanwhile, Mr. Stein, a Republican, said he may also eventually run for county commissioner in 2002. That would pit him against Commissioner Adam Koenig, a former City Council member.

        Mr. Stein has not always gotten along with Mr. Koenig or his mother, Mary, who still sits on council.

        Councilman Steve Kramer, a Stein ally, said he is glad to see his former colleague coming back to city politics.

        “Villa Hills absolutely needs Denny Stein,” said Mr. Kramer, Republican candidate for Kenton County Circuit Clerk.

Tax questions
        A tangled web. Kenton County Magistrate Steve Hoffmann, a Democrat, says the Kenton County GOP has to clean up its act when it comes to a claim on the party's Web site.

        “They say they are the party of lower taxes,” Mr. Hoffmann said. “Let's see, the Republicans on the Kenton County Fiscal Court have raised taxes three times and the Republicans in Frankfort, who control the Senate, voted for tax increases in Frankfort.

        “You have to raise taxes, then do it,” he said. “But don't say you are the party of lower taxes when the actions don't meet the words.”

        Patrick Crowley covers Kentucky politics. He can be reached at 578-5581, or by e-mail at >


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