A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Joe Meyer announces he won’t seek a third term as mayor and other news from Covington Commission


By Ryan Clark
NKyTribune reporter

Mayor Joseph U. Meyer, who has twice been elected the city’s leader, will not be seeking a third term, he announced at the end of the Commission’s regularly scheduled caucus meeting Tuesday night.

Even though he is eligible to run again, he explained in his announcement that he felt his age — he will be 80 at the end of a third term — would prohibit him from continuing to do the job with the same “energy and drive.”

His decision leaves more than a month for others to decide if they want to run. Decisions must be made by the filing deadline, Jan. 5.

Covington Mayor Joe Meyer (File photo)

“Eight years ago, I ran a campaign for Mayor on a platform of change for the City of Covington,” Meyer said. “Simply put, people want to live here, work here and invest here, and Covington has made a name for itself for its vibrancy, its character, its personality and its inclusiveness. We’ve come a long way since the federal government named Covington the most blighted city in America and it’s taken a lot of work and energy, and the job is not done.”

Meyer noted some of the change that has occurred over the past seven years, including:

• Renewed economic vitality
• Over 5,000 new jobs
• Hundreds of market-rate housing units
• Increased investment in the city’s housing stock
• More than 40 percent growth in the city’s taxable real estate
• Positive demographic change
• The most population growth in 50 years
• A reduced poverty rate
• The Brent Spence bridge project will be built without tolls
• Addressing the Euclid Ave. street and basement flooding problems
• Pushed forward on the IRS site with some future announcements about new developments on that site
• A broader free public Wi-Fi system for much of the city
• Read Ready Covington offers children a better foundation for success in schools
• Developed the Heritage Trades training program
• Housing redevelopment and economic redevelopment
• Repurposing and improving the future of the Latonia Shopping Center
• Strong advocates on behalf of diverse communities
• A 100 score on the Municipal Equality Index
• Support for the Pride Parade and the Esperanza Latino Center
• City staff leadership is much improved and
• Long-ignored basics of governmental administration are being addressed

“The focus of our work is on serving the public and not on in-house political maneuvering and jockeying,” he said. “This vision has been supported by some great elected officials, some incredible city staff and a vast array of police officers, firefighters, public works crews, code inspectors, housing staff, solid waste staff, historic preservationists and recreation staff, and economic development officials working in the trenches to make Covington a great place to live, work and recreate. Outside city government, Covington is blessed with committed leaders in the private sector, including not only business owners and entrepreneurs, but also leaders in a vast realm of communities — our nonprofits, our churches, our schools, the courts, the arts, sports and other organizations. Through the collective effort of all of these groups, the city is on a trajectory of growth and energy.”

After 45 years of public service, as a state representative, a state senator, a school board member, secretary of education and workforce development and Mayor of Covington, Meyer said one job will always be his favorite.

“I have decided that I am not running for a third term — it was a difficult decision,” Meyer said. “I love the city. Of all the jobs that I’ve had, my favorite has been Mayor. But after many, many conversations with my wife, children and others, I have decided that the coming year is my last as Covington’s Mayor. There is still much to do, but it’s time for somebody else to lead the charge.”

He explained how age was a large factor in the decision.

“At the end of the next term I would be 80 — that’s 80 years old, and it is presumptuous of me to believe that I can continue to serve four more years with the same level of energy and drive that this job requires,” he said.

Before ending the meeting, he also had a message for the next Mayor.

“This is not to say that we are going to take our foot off the pedal and just coast for the next 13 months — we have much to accomplish before I leave office,” he said, noting the riverfront development, the stormwater problems, the City Heights relocation, the IRS site development and a franchise agreement with Duke Energy, among other projects.

“We’ve been working on all of these for years — they’re all doable and within our means to accomplish,” he said. “And I do have a message for those candidates: Our successes have come because we have identified our values, set our goals and work to shape our future, not by passively letting the events around us or outside forces dictate our future. Take charge and accept responsibility for Covington’s future. Make it what we want it to be. Keep our focus on serving the public.

“We are proud of our community,” he continued, “and we are unapologetically Covington.”

With that, the meeting came to a close.

KYTC Road Transfers

Commissioners heard a proposal for the Mayor to execute an agreement with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet for the roadway ownership transfer of Madison Avenue (from 20th to 12th Street) from the city of Covington to KYTC; and Scott and Greenup Streets from KY 1120 (12th Street/11th Street) to 20th Street from KYTC to the city of Covington; and 20th Street from Madison Avenue to Greenup Street from KYTC to the city of Covington.

The transfers are part of the long-awaited conversion of Scott and Greenup from one-way to two-way between 12th and 20th.

“Our goal is for a lot of the final engineering work to be completed by the city’s consultants and submitted to the cabinet before the end of December with the goal of working through the process so that the project can be bid next spring,” Mayor Meyer said.

The proposal was placed on the consent agenda for next week’s legislative meeting.

Southbank RAISE Grant

Commissioners heard a proposal approving the allocation of $49,742.60 (over two years) as the City of Covington’s portion of the local match for the $3,774,940 Riverfront Commons RAISE Grant, which would add another phase to the riverfront hike and bike trail.

The proposal was placed on next week’s consent agenda.

JS Held extension

Commissioners heard a proposal to extend the city’s contract with JS Held for two more years of expertise concerning the Covington Central Riverfront development for $490,000.

JS Held has been under contract with the city since October 2021 as owner’s agent of Covington Central Riverfront development, throughout the process of IRS facility demolition and site preparation for redevelopment.

“The owner’s agent is responsible for on-the-ground oversight of the project,” city documents say. “As this project enters a complex phase of infrastructure build-out, transfer of parcel ownership and assistance to developers of requisite permits, access, timing of activity, etc., it is in the interest of the City to continue a contractual relationship with JS Held, as they are well-qualified, knowledgeable and intimately involved in the varied complexities of this large development project; working with multiple developers, the City, regulatory agencies, utility companies and other stakeholders to complete this project timely and responsibly.”

The proposal was placed on next week’s regular agenda.

Resignations

Commissioners approved these proposed resignations:

Sheena Switzer, Parks and Recreation Administrative Assistant
Sarah Allan, Assistant Director of Economic Development

The resignations were placed on next week’s consent agenda.

Next Meeting

The next regularly scheduled Covington Commission meeting will be a legislative meeting held at 6 p.m., Dec. 5, at the City Building at 20 W. Pike St. in Covington. The meetings can be followed live on Fioptics channel 815, Spectrum channel 203, the Telecommunications Board of Northern Kentucky (TBNK) website, the TBNK Facebook page @TBNKonline, and the TBNK Roku channels.


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