Bill Wells has announced his candidacy for Covington City Commission. The longtime president of the South Covington Community Action Association and most recent president of the Covington Neighborhood Collaborative filed his papers on Thursday. Wells stepped down as president of the CNC in order to run and was replaced by former Covington City Commissioner JT Spence last week.
Wells joins Jordan Huizenga in the field of candidates to announce to The River City News.
Here is the news release from the Wells campaign:
Bill Wells, long-time Covington community activist and civic leader, has declared his intention to seek a seat as a Commissioner on the Covington Board of Commissioners. Wells highlighted the primary motivations for his candidacy: the current opportunities for enhancing economic development and civic engagement in the city, continuing to reduce the number of vacant and abandoned structures in the city, and the need for Covington to be more proactive and collaborative in solving two specific challenges in particular currently facing the city, that of Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) and the heroin epidemic.
Wells is also concerned about the lack of civility on the current commission.
Wells has been the president of the South Covington Neighborhood Association for the past several years and, as both the vice-chair and chair of the Covington Neighborhood Collaborative (a city-wide association of neighborhood groups) he has worked with the city and its citizens on a variety of issues which have given him unique insights and leadership opportunities.
During the past seven years, Wells has attended over 1,000 neighborhood and community meetings and met and worked with civic activists from every corner of the city. As Wells states, “I’ve been fortunate to build many bridges with others in Covington who are as equally optimistic about our future and want to see us realize our potential. Now I would like to be in a position to be able to help develop policies that can move our city forward.”
“Our city is on the verge of finally realizing its great potential for development,” Wells says, “and now is the time to bring our civic groups and business groups together to ensure that our community speaks with one voice, both in Frankfort and in our region.” Wells believes the commission must work harder to fill vacant storefronts, press the issue of ridding our city of abandoned buildings, and ensure that Gateway Community College makes as big of an impact as possible. “I am excited about having the chance to be a commissioner and part of a team that prepares our city and citizens for the future,” Wells explains.
Collaboration is a major theme stressed by Wells. “I’ve worked with every department in the city, every neighborhood; I understand how to work with them and I appreciate what they have been able to accomplish.” Collaboration, for example, is going to be very important in reducing the impact of CSOs on the city, he says, “We just have to stop being a reservoir for all the sewage in the northern part of Kenton County every time it rains.”
Wells believes the city must convince Sanitation District One (SD1) to prioritize repairing aged sewer lines and getting rid of CSOs, “even if this means designating some percentage of the payments Covington residents send SD1 to that effort.” He understands that some suburbs don’t understand the extent of the problem in Covington and thinks the issue might resonate more with the SD1 Board if someone from Covington was appointed as a member.
Another major issue affecting Covington is the current heroin epidemic. Wells argues that Northern Kentucky needs a regional approach to deal with the issue. “I have been told that over 80% of our police work is a result of the war on drugs,” Wells explains, “and we cannot afford to spend that kind of money on reactive efforts alone. We need to collaborate with our region and the state to create comprehensive services that will help us shift to a more proactive approach to drug addiction.” Wells does not think the problem will go away just by incarcerating more people, saying that the expenditure of public monies would be better spent on prevention and cure, and that should include a collaborative effort to create a model for early intervention.
Wells says he is embarrassed by the malicious language used and disrespect shown by some on the commission; “It is important that our commission meetings set an example of the kind of civility we expect in community discussions outside of city hall, and this is just not happening.”
Wells thinks that despite holding opposing viewpoints commissioners can still be rational and engage in meaningful debate and says, “There is a difference between healthy dialogue and these personal attacks which are just uncalled for.” Wells points out that some of the meetings he has chaired over the past years have included controversial issues and heated discussions, but he takes pride in his ability to treat everyone with respect and intends to add that skill to the commission. “It’s important to listen to the different sides of a story before passing judgment.”
A Holy Cross High School graduate (1973), Wells has experience as an E.M.T. and Volunteer Firefighter in Winston Park and Taylor Mill. He has been employed as the Chief Mechanic at Hosea Worldwide’s corporate headquarters in Covington for the past 22 years. Married to Judy for 34 years, Wells has one son and a grandson. He has chosen fellow South Covington resident, Lisa
Placke, as his campaign treasurer, his campaign email is [email protected]. A Facebook page is being developed and a campaign kick-off event is being scheduled for January, 2014.
Photo: Bill Wells/provided