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Kenton Leaders Look to Future: 2018 Election, Bavarian Site

After two years together, the Kenton County Fiscal Court is a team that appears to enjoy one another's company.

Two years earlier, they were seemingly split on whom should be elected to the governing body of Kentucky's third-most populous county - but the first half of their term has been productive and they work well together, Commissioner Jon Draud said Wednesday.

At the end of the afternoon meeting, the last of the year, Draud announced that he would seek reelection.

"Several people have been discussing about running for my seat," Draud said. "I want to make it clear that I do intend to run, because a lot of my friends have been encouraging me to run and I want to see the completion of that courthouse."

Part of the meeting focused on next steps for Kenton County's future move to a renovated Bavarian Brewery site in Covington.

Draud, who has a resume that dates back five decades and includes stops as superintendent of Ludlow Independent Schools, state representative, and secretary of education, would be seeking his third 4-year term at the Fiscal Court. "If God is good to me, I plan on running again."

"I believe in democracy and I believe everybody has the right to run and I encourage anyone to run for this seat that is interested," he contrinued. "I want you to know that I am going to be prepared." He joked that he is even learning to use Twitter. "I am going to be a powerful candidate. Twitter is a big thing, nowadays!"

Draud was complimentary of Judge/Executive Kris Knochelmann, as well. In the Republican primary in 2014, in which Knochelmann unseated incumbent Steve Arlinghaus, Draud was supportive of Arlinghaus. 

The same is true of County Commissioner Joe Nienaber, who was elected to the Fiscal Court in 2014 after serving as mayor of Ft. Wright. "I have thoroughly enjoyed this two years. It's hard to believe we are half way through (the term)," Nienaber said. "I'd love to be around for another term but I don't know where I'm gonna be for Christmas," he joked.

"We're in the middle of so many different things and I hope people are paying attention, mainly because they are taxpayers," Nienaber continued. "We are in the middle of monumental projects here, not just the county courthouse but the potential redevelopment of this site in the very near future." The current Kenton County Administration Building at Third and Court Streets is expected to be a target for redevelopment, possibly residential. "It's been a true pleasure to work with everyone, staff and elected officials."

Knochelmann thanked Draud, Nienaber, and Commissioner Beth Sewell, his longtime ally. 

"I'm glad Commissioner Draud wants to stick around. I hope to continue to stick around with him, in the same vein," Knochelmann said. "I would hope this whole group of us stick around for the next term. I don't think anyone is a yes-man. It's about challenging each other.

"I look at it as a true blessing. I do believe I have been given a great deal of blessing by being in this role and I thank God for that."

Prior to the Fiscal Court's love fest, its members unanimously approved the issuance of a request for qualifications (RFQ) for entities that would provide services associated with the redevelopment of the historic Bavarian Brewery site. The building was purchased by the county earlier this year with the idea that the government would move its operations there. Other organizations are expected to follow the county there, but no one is formally committed. The historic brewery faced possible demolition before the county purchased it.

-Michael Monks, editor & publisher

Photo: Kenton County Administration Building in Covington (via Kenton PVA)