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Covington Mayoral Candidates Appear on TV Sunday

Covington City Commissioners Sherry Carran and Steve Casper who are facing each other in November's mayoral election appeared on WKRC's Newsmakers program Sunday morning. Host Dan Hurley spent about twelve minutes with the candidates and briefly covered some of the issues that would face each of them should he or she become mayor. The first topic focused on each candidate's top priority. "The biggest priority is getting focused," Carran said. "We've had trouble with that. We have a lot of good plans on the table but getting the focus to accomplish them has been difficult. We keep getting pulled in different directions because there's like these little fires that you're always having to put out, and everyone has different priorities. My top priority is focus, creating a level of respect and inclusiveness where everybody is coming together."

"Clearly it needs to be attracting companies back to Covington," said Casper. "We need to create jobs. Jobs create an income flow to the city, in order for us to do the things we need to do from an infrastructure standpoint and going back into our neighborhoods and trying to rebuild them."

During the current commission's tenure, two large companies, Omnicare and the Nielsen Company, left Covington for Cincinnati. "That's a game Kentucky can't win," Casper said. "We need to move away from trying to attract based on incentives. We need to attract business based on the amenities of our community." Casper said that he met with recently with Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory. "The idea is that we need to work together, not against each other. We need to attract companies to both sides of the river from somewhere else, not from each other."

"Relationships are very important. I've been working regionally for the past ten years," Carran said, noting her service on the Ohio Kentucky Indiana Regional Council of Governments and on local conservation boards. "I see a lot of those people on a monthly basis. I've known (Cincinnati City Councilwoman) Roxanne Qualls for a long time and done a lot of things with her and some of the other council people, so regionally, not just Cincinnati, but all the counties, it's very important. We can't function in a little hub of our own. It just doesn't work."

The two candidates appeared on television the same day that Covington's emergency dispatch center officially became part of Kenton County's. The prospect of more regionalism is something both candidates support. "I totally believe in collaboration," said Casper. "I ran on that two years ago and I continue to run on that. We had our first taste where we shut down dispatch and it's being taken over by the county. Twelve of our employees were hired by the county because of their expertise, because of the system we developed that the county is taking over. I've been meeting with adjoining cities contiguous to Covington for the very reason that we need to continue to search out ways to collaborate.."

Carran noted that she serves on a committee initiated by Kenton County Commissioner Kris Knochleman tasked with exploring how the county and its cities can better work together. "We meet on a fairly regular basis and we're getting ready to put out a document about areas where we can collaborate that will create more efficiencies and effectiveness in services. One of the reasons is the budget constraints has really pushed it more to the forefront because everybody is struggling and we have to find those ways to be effective and efficient at the same time."

Carran was first elected to the city commission in 2006 while Casper was elected in 2010 and during their shared time at City Hall their voting record has been practically the same. Hurley asked for how each would be different in office. "I think it's our approach that separates us," Carran said. "It's our approach that is very different. I've been more involved in non-profits and regional groups. I work very well with teams. The team effort is something that I think is the best way to go. I work very closely with staff. I don't try to do things on my own. I work with staff and those who are stakeholders."

Casper noted his leadership experience with the Cincinnati and Ohio Boards of Realtors. "People like the style of how I run meetings and they keep coming back and asking me," he said. "In fact, the Cincinnati Board, when they have their leadership academy, I'm the one they have come in and teach how to run a meeting."