John Flesch

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? 

Covington is beautiful city built upon and strengthened by its neighborhoods. Everyone identifies with a sense of place. I would like to further the thought of our neighborhoods as places where we not only live but many also work. Absent the strip mall and big box retailers, I strongly favor having businesses in neighborhoods, even if they are non-conforming. Being raised building houses and a property owner myself, I welcome skilled technicians, tradespeople, craftspeople, and supply-houses. In an answer to the question of ‘where can I find that?’ or ‘who can do that’, let’s make the answer ‘in Covington’.

Supplementing that hope of blending the urban tech with the skilled labor force, Gateway College is a means to support Covington’s vertical prosperity. As Gateway strives to meet workforce demands, its focus on skilled labor and even guild-work will enhance and continue to revitalizing Covington.

Question 2: 

Covington has provided more affordable housing options than many other communities in northern Kentucky, and yet many of those who are being helped by these programs are concentrated in a handful of neighborhoods and often feel isolated from the larger Covington community. How can the city better integrate all residents into our community, provide greater opportunities to low income residents, and affirmatively further fair housing?

Covington’s density of affordable housing is a product of historical decisions. We have at least two government entities and a plethora of other organizations that promote affordable housing. The concentration of units at specific high-density locations does promote isolation, however, I know from personal contact, some residents would have it no other way.

As support organizations move from scattered sites/project-based locations, individual housing locations offer better integration into a broader community. Two things need to occur. One, we must broadly accept that the need exists and destigmatize it—whether housing a homeless veteran, a retirement-age homemaker living solely on Social Security, a young man suffering from mental disease, a widow with children…there is a need. Two, to create available units, true-market rents need to be supported. Personally, I recall when the subsidy offered did not change for 3 years. A property owner cannot accept the inability to cover costs.

Question 3: 

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 Covington can and should take to help folks re-enter our community?

Plain and simple, I believe in second-chances; I have given many second chances.

I support the recent passing of Kentucky’s criminal record expungement for Class D Felonies.

I support ‘banning the box’ and ‘fair-chance initiatives’ but I would not suggest relinquishing or preventing an employer or landlord access to a prospect’s history.

I strongly support the restoration of voting rights after time has been served and parole has been completed. I believe this is a Constitutional right and not a matter of political privilege or prerogative. Voting rights should be automatically restored after time served and parole completed.

Question 4: 

Covington is known for being Pedestrian friendly, and having mass transit options. Yet, there are few places in the city that accommodate cyclists with bike lanes or share lanes. What policies do you support to make cycling easier and safer in our city?

As Covington improves its infrastructure, we must consider the entirety of the traffic patterns and the pedestrian roadside environment. A multitude of benefits exist for a populace that commonly walks and cycles.

Policies for cycling need to be a forethought, not an afterthought. When the ‘12th Street/shortway’ bridge was being replaced, I asked the DOT engineer about adding a bike lane, but it was too late…he was hopeful the spaces adjacent to the raised walkways were enough.

Buffered and shared bike lanes should be priorities when designing for updated and revised traffic patterns. Cyclists are generally a safety-conscious group. Without an analysis in front of me, consider the possibilities of: 1. tying the morning and afternoon rush commutes to parking and biking; 2. utilizing abandoned/unused railroad beds; 3. restructuring parking on main thoroughfares to accommodate angled-parking and permanent bike lanes.

Question 5: 

Could you detail some of the things you most want to accomplish in the upcoming term, if elected?

First I would like to demonstrate to all stakeholders of Covington that I believe in the strength of their City. I will set a tone that moves city government toward greater accountability, openness, responsiveness, and transparency.

I will promote Covington as more than a place to reside (1st space) and work (2nd space). Covington is a place where families and individuals build lives. It is a place where the wider aspects of life (3rd spaces) can be fulfilled-socially, educationally, recreationally, spiritually.

A short laundry list: Accelerate implementation of the Latonia Small Area Study and the redevelopment of 12th Street/ML King Boulevard. Relocate the IRS to a new multi-story location. Propagate Madison Avenue redevelopment southward and align plans with the needs of adjacent neighborhoods. Restaff and re-equip our City’s vital police and fire functions. Create a permanent fund to help low to moderate income long-term homeowners achieve needed home repairs.

Question 6: 

In Covington, we pride ourselves on being a diverse, welcoming community. But many residents are concerned about the increase in activities in northern Kentucky that make many residents feel less than welcomed in our community. What will you do to create a community that is welcoming of all, and that values the lives of all members in our community?

To understand a bit about me and my origins of thought, I’d like to share that my passions are in people, technology, and buildings. I grew up in a large family whose parents built a foundation from respect and benevolence. You must forgive me if we get into a conversation and you can’t get rid of me. As a teen, I was lucky to build homes and care for some of Covington’s historic residences. My first professional positions kept me on the bleeding edge of technology.

Covington has a record of superseding cultural and racial ills. I believe Covington benefited during the turbulent years of a generation ago by having only one public high school. For those then attending, it ultimately made them aware that we are in this together.

Today, we are still in this together. I believe it, and I will practice and promote it as your Commissioner.