Former Covington City Commissioner Jerry Bamberger announced his candidacy to return to the office on Wednesday.
Bamberger, 70, served on the city commission from 1992 to 2008, a year in which he did not seek reelection. Following the 2008 campaign, Bamberger pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate campaign finance restrictions and one count of conspiracy to fail to identify campaign contributors and advertisers following a campaign flyer that attacked then-commission candidate Shawn Masters. Bamberger and City Commissioner Steve Megerle, as well as unsuccessful candidate Craig Johnson, were prosecuted for what the Kentucky Attorney General's Office classified as election finance violations.
Bamberger was sentenced to twelve months in jail, a sentence that was conditionally discharged for two years. Bamberger was not permitted to seek office of any kind during that period which has since expired.
The lifelong resident of Latonia was also executive director of the Mainstrasse Village Association. The Holy Cross High School and Thomas More College graduate retired from Cinergy (now Duke Energy) after thirty-seven years of service.
In a news release, Bamberger laid out why he decided to reenter the political arena.
“Over the past few years, instead of addressing the important issues of our city, the current commission has drawn more attention for their lack of civility toward each other than for their accomplishments as the city’s governing body,” Bamberger said. “This must change. The citizens of Covington deserve better and that’s why I’m running for Covington City Commission.”
In addition to improving civility on the City Commission, Bamberger said his campaign platform will focus on public safety, improving the city’s aging infrastructure, and addressing the needs of all of the city’s neighborhoods.
During his time on commission, Bamberger served on the National League of Cities Board of Advisors, the Kentucky League of Cities Insurance Board, the River Cities Coalition, the Telecommunications Board of Northern Kentucky, the Diocese of Covington Board of Education, the Kenton County Boys & Girls Club, Hut Athletic Club, and other church, civic, and social organizations.
Bamberger and his wife, Barbara, have lived on Lincoln Avenue for thirty-seven years. They have eight children and twenty-one grandchildren.
Covington voters will elect four city commissioners in November. If the field is larger than eight candidates, a primary on May 20 will be necessary to reduce the candidates to eight.
Bamberger issued this statement regarding his candidacy:
As a former Covington City Commissioner, I am announcing my intention to file for Covington City Commission again. I have lived in the City of Covington all of my life. My wife, Barbara, and I have lived in our Latonia home for 37 years and we are not planning on moving.
Over the past few years, instead of addressing the important issues of our city, the current commission has drawn more attention for their lack of civility toward each other than for their accomplishments as the city’s governing body. This must change. The citizens of Covington deserve better.
During the 17 years that I served as Covington City Commissioner, the commission members disagreed on issues many times, but we seldom argued with each other on the commission floor during a public meeting. I want to work with my colleagues to address the needs of our city and serve the people who elect us.
I have always believed the most primary need of our city is Public Safety. We need to provide our residents and businesses with the proper complement of police officers and firefighters to make ALL of our neighborhoods safe. If we fail to do this, we will not be able to attract homeowners and businesses to our city.
During the past few years, the City of Covington has reduced staff in each of these departments at the expense of our homeowners and businesses. Staff reductions and “brown outs” are not the answer. Our citizens deserve to have the best dispatch system available. We need to continue to monitor this county-run system to make sure the needs of Covington residents and businesses are being met.
During my 17 years as a Covington City Commissioner, we never laid off a public-safety employee and we balanced the city budget every year. I will NEVER vote to down size either the police or fire departments.
Our infrastructure is old and in need of repair. We need to continue to work with federal, state and local agencies for financial assistance with these needs. We need to continue to work with our local and state legislators on the replacement of the Brent Spence Bridge and fight for what is best for Covington.
In all of our neighborhoods, from MainStrasse, West Covington/Botany Hills, the downtown business district and all the way out to South Covington, we are seeing an increase of businesses that are closing or leaving our city. They include Chez Nora Restaurant, Behle Street Cafe, Waterfront Restaurant, Izzy's, Value City Furniture, and many small neighborhood businesses throughout Covington. The Larosa's Restaurant in the Latonia Shopping Center is closing up and leaving to another city this year.
We need to change this trend now. We need to address the issue of why people and businesses are leaving Covington and how we can stop this trend. Every neighborhood is important and each of their needs should be addressed. Our Code Enforcement Department and Public Works Department need to be reviewed and make sure that they have enough resources to be proactive in attacking violations while serving the needs of our city.
Covington's athletic fields and recreational facilities are in great need of attention and repair. The city owes this to the youth of our community. Why has this happened?
Covington is not the only city in our state dealing with financial issues. I believe that by working with the Kentucky League of Cities and National League of Cities, we can see how other cities have addressed some of these similar problems and investigate if they might help Covington address these needs. I don't believe we have to reinvent solutions to every problem.
As you read through why I want to be elected Covington City Commission, you will notice that I say "we" a lot. That is what it takes to address these concerns and issues, not only Jerry Bamberger, but the support of concerned commissioners who are willing to work together in a proactive and dedicated manner to make every Covington neighborhood the best it can be. Let's adopt the slogan of NO NEIGHBORHOOD LEFT BEHIND. I will work and serve to make this happen. Please vote to bring back Jerry Bamberger as Covington City Commissioner.
Photo: Jerry Bamberger