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Covington Commissioner Huizenga to Run for 65th District State Representative Seat

Covington city commissioner Jordan Huizenga will run for state representative in Kentucky House District 65, the seat currently occupied by Democrat Arnold Simpson, who announced last month that he is retiring.

Huizenga, a Republican, has served two terms on the city commission, and his decision not to seek reelection at City Hall opens up one seat. The other three incumbents at City Hall have filed for re-election and Mayor Joe Meyer is at the mid-term of his 4-year term.

“I’ve never been good at politics, but I believe in the importance of public service and representing those who are too often marginalized,” said Huizenga, in a statement announcing his candidacy. “We have obligations to our teachers, firefighters, police officers, single parents, retirees, young children, high school graduates, and all Kentuckians for a brighter future. My wife and I are going to raise our family in Kentucky and I will work every day to make this a state and a region where my children and all children can be successful. I hope I can earn your support in the coming months.”

Huizenga stated that he has been a leader in the urban renaissance of Covington in his role on the city commission, as well as an active volunteer and passionate community advocate across the region.

He is the only Republican to announce his candidacy ahead of Tuesday's filing deadline. Democrat Charles "Buddy" Wheatley, a former Covington fire chief turned labor attorney, announced that he would run for the seat, after previously looking into a bid for the city commission before Simpson announced his retirement.

Simpson was first elected in 1994 and has been largely unchallenged since. 2018 could see the first competititive campaign in for the seat, which covers most of Covington, Park Hills, Ludlow, and Bromley, and part of Taylor Mill, in a generation.

Huizenga said that his campaign will be about challenging issues facing the region and state.

“Now more than ever we need someone who can work with all parties and constituents to provide fair resolutions to issues around state funding, pensions, tax reform, education, transportation and so many other issues facing our state,” he said. “For too long, Northern Kentucky has gotten the short end of the stick from Frankfort. I will work to bring back more of your tax dollars to invest in the economic engine that is Northern Kentucky.”

 

In announcing his campaign, Huizenga shared an endorsement from Kenton County Judge/Executive Kris Knochelmann.

“We hate to lose Jordan on Covington’s City Commission, where he’s been a leader on smart fiscal policy and important community issues,” Knochelmann said, “but Covington and Kenton County need a representative who knows the issues facing our cities and can actively engage in Frankfort to be an energetic voice for our cities and residents.”

“With the challenges our state is facing for our budget and pension obligations, I believe we have to look at significantly improving our tax code,” Huizenga said. “With the economy growing and more jobs and investment coming to Kentucky, our revenues are continuing to stagnate because of an outdated code. The solutions for these challenges will not be simple, but they must allow individuals and cities to thrive because that’s how our Commonwealth will grow. We must make smart investments in workforce development, small businesses and education to compete internationally and develop the resources and assets that our state has.”

Children, Inc.’s executive director and longtime Covingtonian Rick Hulefeld has supported Huizenga for years. Huizenga is a vice president at the Covington-based agency. “Jordan has been a passionate advocate for children and families and has become a significant leader for all of Covington’s residents,” Hulefeld said. “We've been fortunate to have him as a Commissioner.”

Statewide Republicans took control of the Kentucky House of Representatives for the first time in a century in 2016, and now they are actively targeting the only two Northern Kentucky legislative seats occupied by Democrats. Incumbent State Rep. Dennis Keene (D-Wilder) drew a challenger in Republican Bob Schrage in the 67th District, which covers northern Campbell County.

“Representative Simpson has been an amazing statesman, working across the aisle for decades to advocate for the needs of his constituents and I want to continue his legacy of bipartisanship and leadership on issues critical to our community,” Huizenga said.

While Huizenga has run two successful campaigns for city commission, this will mark his first partisan campaign. He has lived in Covington, with his wife, Lauren, since 2008. They built a new-infill home, in partnership with the Center for Great Neighborhoods, in the Old Seminary Square neighborhood where they still reside.

While working at Children, Inc. Huizenga completed his MBA at Northern Kentucky University and sought out opportunities to engage through young professional, community and volunteer organizations. It was through this involvement and the support of mentors that led him to public service, he said.

“I want to represent my neighbors in Covington, Park Hills, Ludlow, Bromley, Kenton Vale and Taylor Mill and work so their kids have access to outstanding education, so that our communities can continue to grow and attract good paying jobs and we can continue to live in amazing neighborhoods,” Huizenga said. “This region is outstanding because of the people who call this place home and the community they create. They deserve a passionate advocate for their interests and I will be that advocate.

-Staff report