Stuart Warren

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? 

Gainful employment can only be achieved when employment opportunities exist. Our city has been hemorrhaging residential and business assets which, in turn, caused our tax revenue base to shrink. Latonia has perhaps felt the brunt of this. Tax and fee reform must be a focus if we want to see gainful employment opportunities increase. Doing so will help every neighborhood in Covington, north and south of 12th Street.

We should further strive to foster new relationships with non-profits and religious communities in order to better serve those members of our city who are in need. Religious communities, regardless of which faith they belong to, play a major role in providing vulnerable populations with life skills and acclimating them to social norms for the work place. Developing a constitutionally sound relationship with these organizations and forming a means to tackle problems collectively is our best way forward.

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?

We should applaud the efforts of those who have worked to provide affordable housing options for low income residents. However, we should also learn from their mistakes. We have pockets of subsidized housing within our city that has segregated low income residents away from all others. Further, the government subsidized housing we have is aesthetically unappealing. As a result, these structures fail to provide residents with a sense of place and belonging.

A recent study at Auburn University created blueprints for new constructions that are affordable even for those living below the poverty line. Engineers worked to optimize structural integrity while architects developed designs “anyone could afford and everyone would desire.” Even if this particular plan isn't suitable for Covington, we should harness the spirit of the project in order to develop non-subsidized home ownership opportunities for all socioeconomic classes. This would meet our need to integrate low income residents into the larger community, create solidarity, and provide a sense of belonging to a particular place.

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?

This question only touches the surface of a much larger problem. Though criminal justice reform must largely be tackled at the state and federal levels, there are efforts we can undertake here in Covington. 

We should consider implementing restorative justice for first and second time non-violent offenders. Restorative justice requires offenders to pay for their crime through community service while simultaneously providing payment for damages to victims. In doing so, we provide a second chance for individuals who made a bad choice unrepresentative of their character without having a criminal offense restricting employment opportunities. 

For those coming out of incarceration, non-profits and religious communities are often better suited to meet their needs than governments. They are able to provide individuals with resources and life skills training that has been a proven factor in deterring recidivism. Prison Fellowship is a nonprofit resource we can tap and model for accomplishing these goals where appropriate.

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 young professionals begin to move back into urban cores, many are trading their cars for greener, healthier alternatives. Our current city commission has taken good first steps to accommodate the resurgence of cycling (i.e., Electric Alley rehab). However, Covington’s most appropriate roads for shared lanes are state routes, thus requiring cooperation from our state legislature and falling outside the authority of our city. While I am supportive of creating shared lanes, any steps taken must be fiscally responsible and safe. 

Cincinnati’s Central Parkway serves as an example of how not to do accomplish these goals, while Fairfax’s road diet serves as a great model for Winston Avenue in Latonia. Whichever actions are taken we must keep in mind that Covington serves as one of our county’s two county seats. As such, we must be careful to preserve on-street parking for our guests as well as safe roadways for cyclists and motorists. Given that it is legal to cycle on these roads already, creating designated shared lanes on Scott, Greenup, and our east-west routes would improve safety.

Question 5: 

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

My platform is based on three principles: incentivize residential and commercial growth; combat heroin and disease; and enhance education. If we narrow our focus to tackle these three issues simultaneously, I believe we will make great advances to see Covington’s potential realized.

Incentivizing residential and commercial growth revolves around the principle of increasing our tax base rather than increasing tax rates. Commercial growth is of utmost importance as it creates the bulk of Covington’s revenue. 

Many of our residents, myself included, have been effected by its lethal impact on friends and family. I campaigned on a mobile exchange while others pushed for a brick and mortar location at Madison and 20th. Our current commission has since approved a mobile exchange unanimously and I consider that an early success.

My academic and professional background is in education. I understand the importance of meeting the individual needs of our young learners and that is exactly what Glenn O. Swing Elementary has done. I will work to see their program filter up and into the remainder of our schools.

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?

In 2009 I spent my summer working for the European-Atlantic Group in London, England where I focused my efforts investigating international human rights violations. I worked with Members of Parliament in the UK to protect a group of pro-democracy Iranian expatriates. This experience, coupled with deep convictions flowing from my Christian faith, has opened my eyes to realize that we must do much more in the U.S. to protect religious freedoms. 

The Iranian expatriates I worked with happened to be members of the wrong Islamic sect and Iranian leaders wanted to take their lives. Since that time, terrorism has further misled many in our country to believe that all Muslims are dangerous. One Muslim business owner in our region received threats for legally slaughtering livestock according to halal customs (similar to kosher practices within Judaism). I will use my platform to speak in defense of religious freedoms for all persons, not merely Christians, and to help educate our community on the importance of doing so.