Thursday, November 09, 2000

Covington mayor-elect says issues key to win

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — Mayor-elect Butch Callery saw Tuesday's victory over former Mayor Bernie Moorman as recognition of his focus on issues important to residents. It was also a rejection of his opponent's negative campaign, he said.

        “The people knew I had done a good job as commissioner for 21 years,” the 59-year-old Latonia resident said. “I think that helped a lot. They saw past the negative campaigning, and they didn't let that affect their vote.”

        Mr. Moorman, 62, who lost by just 363 votes in a hard-fought race, said he was proud of the campaign he ran, adding that he will continue to work to improve his native Covington.

        “I ran, not because Bernie Moorman wanted an ego trip, but because people asked me to,” the 25-year politician said Wednesday. “They were concerned about the condition of the city, and they felt that I could help in addressing its problems.”

        In his door-to-door campaign, Mr. Moorman said residents told him they were angry about crack houses on 12th and 13th streets, upset with city recreational facilities being kept in poor condition “until right before election time,” and concerned that there was no systematic repair program for parks, streets and basic infrastructure.

        Mr. Callery said the city does have a program for the upkeep of its infrastructure and spent $5.5 million on street repairs the last five years.

        He said parks improvements planned for some time are under way throughout the city, largely with the help of grant money and outside assistance.

        “You hear that no matter what you do in an election year,” Mr. Callery said of the criticism that city parks were being fixed up just before the election.

        Mr. Callery said he plans to improve parks, continue riverfront development, look into lowering the city's property-tax rate, continue to improve public safety by ensuring the police and fire departments have sufficient per sonnel, equipment and “a good living wage,” and make south Covington residents feel as if they're part of the city by getting them involved and listening to their concerns.

        Mr. Callery said he plans to meet individually with each of the newly elected commissioners — incumbents Jerry Bamberger and J.T. Spence and challengers Alex Edmondson and Craig Bohman — to discuss their priorities and make sure they “are all on the same page.”

        Mr. Moorman won most of the downtown precincts, while Mr. Callery drew his strongest support from Latonia and south Covington.

        Mr. Callery also had the endorsements of the police and firefighters' unions and The Kentucky Post, and he had enjoyed backing from the Covington Neighborhood Watch — all factors that made it difficult to defeat him, Mr. Moorman said.

        Bev Wedding, vice president/secretary of Covington Neighborhood Watch, denied that the organization backed Mr. Callery or any other candidate. She said she and President Barb Cook worked on Mr. Callery's campaign as individuals, not as representatives of the block watch group.

        Mr. Moorman also had criticized the city commission majority for conducting much of its business behind closed doors, allegations that Mr. Callery has denied.

        Ray Murphy, a former mayoral candidate who later endorsed Mr. Moorman, said he is hopeful the new commission will work together and debate issues in the open, rather than in private.

        “In the past, everything was cut-and-dried before it got to the public,” Mr. Murphy said. “But Jerry Bamberger's always been a team player and with two new (commissioners), I think you'll see more openness. Butch has made a public statement that he wants a more open, responsive government, so he'll have to live with that.”


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