Frank Peluso

Political party: 
Question 1: 

Over the past several years many residents have found it difficult to find meaningful employment that is accessible to them. What steps will you take to ensure that residents in our more urban neighborhoods will be able to have the same opportunities as other communities, and to ensure that every part of the city benefits from economic development?

At one time Newport had many companies that provided good jobs and pay for the residents of Newport. More recently Dean Foods closed Trauth Dairy, applying another blow to the City and residents. Despite these setbacks we have worked to attract new businesses and to expand existing ones and have been very successful. Two of our success stories out of many, include Ethos Labs and Nexigen. These companies have created many new jobs and they repurposed existing vacant buildings. One of our goals is to attract new companies along the route 9 corridor to provide jobs that local residents could walk to. We believe that the New Riff project along that corridor, in addition to the creation of jobs, will serve as a catalyst for even more development. During the past few years we have welcomed over 100 companies and 1000 jobs to the Newport family.

Question 2: 

Redevelopment in Newport has resulted in the relocation of affordable housing units and the present/former occupants. Given the model of concentration and isolation of the former generation of public housing, this relocation presents both challenges and opportunities. How do you plan to provide greater opportunities to low income residents while affirmatively furthering fair housing? 

Newport can stand on its record of past and current achievement in the area of affordable housing. We proactively have worked to eliminate old methods of grouping low income housing in project areas. The old approach has proven to not work and has created generations of families living in such areas. We have worked diligently to create superior housing for our older low income residents as well as create scattered detached housing for rent and ownership. We long ago identified that Newport and Covington have a disproportionate percentage of low income housing. Due to suburban flight resulting in declining population, the percentage of residents in affordable housing has doubled. It is unfair to local residents that their housing opportunities are limited to a few cities within the Northern Kentucky region. I believe that other cities should create opportunities for affordable housing and will continue to work toward that goal.

Question 3: 

Newport is one of the most diverse cities in northern Kentucky when it comes to racial and ethnic make up, and has many vibrant neighborhoods. Yet some residents see a distinct lack of representation on city boards or in city employment. What steps can the city take to make sure that community boards and city employment are representative of the city as a whole? 

Newport was one of the first cities in Northern Kentucky to employ minorities. The Police Department was also one of the first to employ both minorities and women. In the past we have had outreach programs to recruit more residents including participating in career days, advertisement, literature and word of mouth. The City has long embraced a diverse workforce and continue to recruit potential new employees. We do face obstacles not of our choosing, at one point in our history the City employed over 300 people. Due to the Great Recession, our workforce continued to shrink because of reduced revenues. Currently we have approximately 110 employees and have low turnover, further lowering opportunities. When openings do come up, we work diligently to recruit and hire qualified applicants that will represent the makeup of our community.

Question 4: 

Currently there are several 'brownfields' scattered throughout Newport. The most well known of these include the L&H Tool & Die site at 12th and Lowell, which was profiled in an USA Today article detailing brownfields and lead contamination, and the former Newport Steel location. What can the city do to help clean up these and other sites, and promote development that will enhance the communities surrounding them?

We were well ahead of that article. Several years ago we applied for and received grants to identify brownfield petrol sites in our City. In addition we had a remediation plan prepared for the L&H site that was approved by the State of Ky and can be used by the owner or future owners. The former steel mill site is one of the locations that has been of particular interest to us. Several years ago we created an overlay in that area called a "transition zone". This zone encourages mixed use development as well as clean technology. We are actively working on identifying potential developers for that site. Any development would result in the cleanup and removal of identified hazardous materials. In addition to this the City participated with Duke energy to create a site readiness review for potential developers. The City has and will continue working on the eventual elimination of any brownfield sites.

Question 5: 

Citizens returning home from incarceration, and even those who have finished their probation and parole, often have trouble returning to their communities. Several cities and states have fostered initiatives aimed at helping these members of our community get back on their feet. Louisville and Cincinnati, for example, have removed questions about previous convictions from hiring applications. What steps do you feel Newport can and should take to help folks re-enter our community?

Newport again was way ahead of the curve in this area. We are a municipal government and not in the habit of drawing attention to every initiative that we undertake. We still have the question regarding an individual's conviction status on the application form, but that has not stopped us from hiring several individuals with felony convictions. The mere fact that the application does not ask that question is irrelevant. Each applicant undergoes a background check that is mandatory for public employment. These are positions that are paid through tax dollars and the public has a right to know the background of any individual that will be providing public services or in a position of trust. The bottom line is the "action speaks louder than words" rather than simply removing a question from an application for show

Question 6: 

Currently people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ+) lack protection from discrimination in housing, employment, or public accommodation under state or federal law. Eight cities in Kentucky have passed their own expanded human rights ordinance, often referred to as a Fairness Ordinance, to extend protections to LGBTQ+ individuals. These cities include towns as small as Vicco (population 334), as large as Louisville (population 760,026), and as nearby as Covington (population 40,640). Do you support a Fairness Ordinance for Newport to protect LGBTQ+ individuals from discrimination?

I'm proud to say that Newport was one of the first cities in the region to recognize civil partnerships and provide health insurance in those instances. As I pointed out in the previous question, action speaks louder than words. Having been a part of the City government for over 40 years and a lifelong resident, I can say that there has never been a problem reported to me. The City has had many individuals employed over the years that were openly gay without discrimination. Government should not be passing laws simply for show. Personally I do not believe in discrimination of any kind including sexual orientation. If we discover an identifiable problem exists, I would be willing to explore the adoption of such legislation.