Commissioners: Redistricting Would Leave City Without Unified Voice
UPDATE (2:05PM): I just talked with State Rep. Dennis Keene (D-Wilder) who may find his district boundaries include parts of Covington following the redistricting in Frankfort. He already includes Newport, Bellevue and Dayton in addition to Wilder and other towns along the Licking River within his district, offering that that experience has him prepared to represent Covington's needs in Frankfort. Keene said that he and State Rep. Arnold Simpson (D-Covington/Old Seminary Square) are as close as two legislators can be and that Simpson has served as a mentor to him.
"The River Cities is where the economic development is going to start," Keene said. "It's important and we deal with different issues (than the rest of the region). I understand those issues and I have a consistent record of solving them. I represent River Cities, so it's a natural fit. I would be honored and thrilled to represent part of Covington."
Keene continued: "The River Cities all have the same issues most of the time and if we all work together we can solve them regionally," he said.
Arnold Simpson, of Old Seminary Square, and who also did not return a request for comment, has represented Covington since 1994 and prior to that served as Covington City Manager. His father was the city's first African-American city commissioner. In essence, Simpson knows Covington and if his district is changed to include southern or western Kenton County areas, the veteran Democrat may lose his seat in the heavily Republican areas outside the city. Keene, a former Wilder city councilman before becoming a state representative in 2005, includes part of Newport in his district and so does have experience representing an urban area.
While some goals are shared between Covington and Newport, Covington is at a critical juncture for the proposed expansion of the Gateway College Urban Campus and in a year that Kentucky's budget will only offer a few gifts from the legislature, the priorities of Covington must be focused. Speculation around the redistricting issue has been that some organizations in Northern Kentucky are more interested in the expansion of the Convention Center than Gateway College and that that may be the motivation to lessen Covington's clout in Frankfort.