Beth Fennell

District/Office: 
Political party: 
Nonpartisan
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?

Newport residents seeking employment are fortunate.  A variety of jobs are available within walking or transit distance.  The region’s largest employment center, Downtown Cincinnati Ohio, is less than a mile away from most residents and accessible by public transit.  Through the dedication and innovation of City Staff and commissioners, approximately 1000 new jobs and 100 new companies have come to Newport in the last few years.  This is remarkable considering the fiscal condition of most similar cities since the economic downturn of several years ago.  Another 200 new jobs are projected in the coming years.  

In addition I am working in conjunction with the Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana Regional Council of Governments, (OKI) and the Northern Kentucky Streetcar committee to connect Newport to the Cincinnati Streetcar.  In February, I went to Washington DC with Ian Budd, the President of the Northern Kentucky Streetcar Committee, to advocate our position to our elected officials. We have also applied for a planning grant from the Federal Transit Authority.  Planning would be the first step.  Bringing the Cincinnati streetcar to Newport will bring more employment opportunities to our residents.

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? 

The Newport Housing Authority is a separate entity from the City of Newport, although the Mayor sits on the board and the City works in partnership.  Newport has become a national model for the novel approach of disbursement of public housing, which once occupied an isolated site on both sides of 4th Street in the west end. 

Federal housing guidelines dictated the Newport Housing Authority replace each unit of public housing in almost a 3-1 ratio,  within the City of Newport; a Herculean task for a city of our size.  Included in this disbursement were programs for first time buyers of single family housing, which included a forgivable second mortgage to assist with the down payment.  Also included were market rate and subsidized rental units as well as Senior Housing projects.  More single family home ownership and apartment opportunities are planned in the near future.

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? 

The various boards within the city serve at the pleasure of the Mayor although commissioners can give input. Current board represents residents from all parts of the city with diverse backgrounds, demographics and occupations.  Interested residents are encouraged to apply to the Mayor for open board positions. 

Newport was one of the first cities in Northern Kentucky to hire minorities and women within the city.  We believe in equal opportunity employment measures and work to increase the number of minority candidates.  We are an equal work/equal pay employer.

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?

Newport has undertaken programs to both encourage remediation and development of brown fields within the city. Newport has partnered with Duke Energy on the assessment and possible remediation of several sites and has also obtained Federal brown field incentives.  The construction of the new Route 9 on the western edge of the city, where many of the Brownfield are located, should continue to spike interest in these properties and encourage developers to pursue these sites.  As always the city will work with the developer and appropriate federal and local entities to encourage development of brown field areas.

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?

City employment requires criminal background checks.  The City has actively pursued hiring convicted felons on numerous occasions during my tenure on the board.

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?

Discrimination of any kind is not tolerated in areas that the City has control or participation. The current demographics of residents living in Newport are fairly diverse. 

The city willingly accepts member of the LGBTQ+ community and offers partner health coverage.  I would not be adverse to the consideration of a Fairness Ordinance. As always; reporting and enforcement is the most important aspect of any ordinance.