By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer
INDEPENDENCE - First-term council member Chris Moriconi, who pledged "integrity and leadership,'' was elected mayor of one of Northern Kentucky's fastest-growing cities Tuesday.
He defeated former Independence Mayor Isaac "Ike'' Gabbard, 1,938 votes to 1,346. Mayor Tom Kriege did not seek re-election.
Although an unprecedented seven Kenton County mayors faced challenges in Tuesday's election, six were returned to office. The exception was Frank Smith of Lakeside Park, who was defeated by Council Member Karen Gamel by 61 votes, 498 to 437.
Returned to office were mayors Claire Moriconi of Crescent Springs, Tom Holocher of Fort Mitchell, Mike Sadouskas of Villa Hills, Marc Otto Sr. of Erlanger, Billy Bradford of Elsmere and Ed Schroeder of Ludlow. The latter two were in three-way races.
Mr. Schroeder, who has been in politics since 1959, said he was grateful for the show of confidence. Besides electing Mr. Schroeder, who was appointed mayor in May 2001, Ludlow voters returned all six incumbents who were elected two years ago on a pledge to end infighting between the former mayor and City Council.
"Even if you've been in politics for awhile, you've got to get your message out to the voters,'' Mr. Schroeder said. He said he campaigned mostly through signs "and a lot of word of mouth.''
Voters in this Ohio River city also approved a new tax for fire protection.
Without the tax, supporters had said the city could not fund its volunteer fire department, homeowners insurance rates would double or triple, and the city would be unable to provide full-time EMT coverage.
Mr. Moriconi, who will lead Independence for the next four years, walked Independence streets every weekend during the campaign. With an opponent who serves on Independence City Council and who previously served as mayor for five years, Mr. Moriconi said he didn't want to take anything for granted.
The new Independence mayor pledged to work to increase police pay to keep Independence competitive and safe, continue to work for sidewalks on major roads, help develop a comprehensive plan for the city and work to attract businesses to Independence.
Mr. Moriconi, the highest vote-getter when he ran for City Council two years ago, celebrated with supporters Tuesday night at an Independence restaurant.
Among the celebrants was his mother, first-term Crescent Springs Mayor Claire Moriconi, who defeated former two-term Crescent Springs Mayor George Stewart, the co-owner of Irene's and Irene's Too.
Mayors in Crestview Hills, Edgewood, Bromley, Fairview, Fort Wright, Park Hills, Kenton Vale and Ryland Heights were unopposed. Covington Mayor Butch Callery was not up for re-election this year.
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