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Covington Mayoral Candidates Debate Issues for Final Time Before Electon

The candidates for Covington mayor met up for their final debate/forum of the campaign season at an event hosted by OASIS, Inc. at Ninth Street Baptist Church.

Incumbent Mayor Sherry Carran and challenger Joe Meyer discussed issues such as the location of a new City Hall, replacing city employees, homelessness, and more.

Throughout the debate, Carran touted her accomplishments as mayor, while Meyer called for change and more accountability for city leaders.

One of the big questions with the most sparring between the candidates was whether the next city commission would replace any city emploees after the election.

Carran stated that no one will be replaced if she is elected.

“I'm very proud of the staff that we have,” Carran said. “The city has the training and positive spirit among the staff.”

Meyer disagreed, saying that officials within the city need to be held accountable.

“One of the big deficiencies is that senior city officials are not being held accountable,” Meyer said, also saying that the city has “weak internal financial controls,” citing that the city borrowed $14 million dollars in 2014 from the federal government and over $13 million dollars of it has yet to be spent.

Meyer also questioned the role of the city manager, saying that “the city manager works for the commission, the commission does not work for the city manager.”

Meyer also stated that parking in MainStrasse is a “mess” and said that “it's hurting our businesses.” One business owner, according to Meyer, has said that sales have gone down recently due to the poor parking situation.

The city recently created a paid-parking scenario in Mainstrasse. Carran has argued that metered parking encourages more frequent turnover for customers in the neighborhood.

On homelessness, Carran said that the number of homeless people in the city has dropped by 47 percent in the past two years while Meyer said the most recent K-Count from the Kentucky Housing Corporation showed the number homeless people has gone up in Kenton County from 133 in 2015 to 280 in 2016.

Carran also said that she has sought initiatives that have helped addicted men into recovery opportunities and to find jobs. She also cited the Welcome House in her remarks, saying that it has offered relief for many women and single-parent families.

Moderator Scott Wartman then asked the candidates to list three reasons why voters should vote for them.

Carran began by saying that she is proven to care about the community, citing the positive energy and new developments, namely Hotel Covington. Her second reason was her background in architecture and how it has helped in her knowledge of knowing what developments work and wouldn't work in Covington. And her final reason for why voters should vote for her was that she is “the hardest working mayor that Covington has ever seen.”

Meyer's first two reasons go hand-in-hand, saying that his first reason is his leadership and management skills. His second reason is his experience in local and state government, touting his time as a state legislator and his life-long advocacy for the city of Covington. His final reason is that he believes in a government “by the people, for the people,” saying that government does not serve itself, but the people it governs.

In final statements, Carran stated that she hopes that people see the progress that Covington has made.

“The city has come a long way,” Carran said. “We have grown in ways that people see the city in a more positive light.”

She also said that the city is known to “work collaboratively at the local, state, and federal level.”

In his closing statement, Meyer reminded the audience that the government is elected to serve “all 41,000-plus people that live in our community.”

“The government serves the people, the people don't serve the government,” Meyer said.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 8.

Written by Clayton Castle, RCN contributor