Team 200: New Covington Commission Promises Best Years Are Still Ahead
"The people have spoken."
Covington City Manager Larry Klein greeted the crowd of a hundred people at the Carnegie with those words on Monday night as the new city commission was sworn in. Like Mayor Sherry Carran who would speak after him, Klein was excited with the change. "This is the first commission of our third century, our best century yet."
"I want to tell you they are my new best friends," Klein joked. In the middle of last year some members of the previous commission were actively working behind the scenes to have Klein fired, a plan that ultimately ended with a compromise that saved Klein's job. In November, voters ousted Commissioners Mildred Rains and Michelle Williams, Klein's most vocal detractors, and replaced them with newcomers Jordan Huizenga and Bill Wells. Steve Frank and Chuck Eilerman were reelected.
Mayor Sherry Carran did not hide her enthusiasm for having a new group to work with as she often butted heads with Rains and Williams, too. "People have been telling me I've got a big smile on my face and I do because I'm really looking forward to working with this new commission," the mayor said.
The focus will be on respect, Carran said, as in respect for each other and the community.
Huizenga, 27, is the youngest member of the city commission and took the opportunity to capitalize on the city's new logo to help people pronounce his name correctly. Referencing the waving hand attached to a C in the logo, Huizenga led the crowd in saying "Hi, Zinga!". The vice president at Children, Inc. recently returned from a trip to Washington, DC. "It was such a great honor to bring home the gravity of this responsibility," he said, wearing a suit he inherited from his grandfather. "I have such respect for the responsibility you have placed on my shoulders."
Wells, 59, has been a neighborhood activist in Covington for years and made his first run for office in 2014, placing third. "We have all vowed to work together, so I think this commission needs to be known as Team 200," he said, a nod to the city's bicentennial which will be celebrated throughout 2015.
"I think we're on the verge of restoring our greatness," said Eilerman, 67, who will serve his second term at City Hall. Part of the family that operated their namesake department store as well as a radio station in town, Eilerman recalled being photographed with Vice President Alben Barkley, a Kentuckian who served with President Harry Truman. "He said, 'You could grow up to be President'," Eilerman remembered before saying what he wished he would have said then. "Why would I do that when I could be a Covington city commissioner?"
"We are really on the cusp of a lot of growth and prosperity," said Frank, 58, who will serve his third term. "You will never find another town this welcoming, with this much opportunity, and this ready to launch."
Retired Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Donald Wintersheimer presided over the ceremony and Rev. Charles Fann offered a prayer.
The new commission will convene for its first official legislative meeting on Tuesday evening at Covington City Hall.
Story & photos by Michael Monks, editor & publisher