Frank Peluso | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Frank Peluso

District/Office: 
Political party: 
Nonpartisan
Question 1: 

We’ve seen a lot of focus on making biking and walking safer in northern Kentucky through projects like Vision Zero NKY and community groups like Ride The Cov (with paths in Newport). Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 and budget issues, we are at the same time seeing a decrease in bus routes. What steps can the commission take to promote safe, alternative transportation in northern Kentucky that will lessen traffic issues and provide cost efficient alternatives to driving?

Without doubt, Newport has been a leader for years in alternative transportation from walkability, encouraging bicycle activities and partnering with Tank and Southbank in the creation of the Southbank shuttle. We worked with the Transportation Department to add bicycle lanes to the recently opened Route 8/9 connector, worked with Red Bike and have provided 7 stations for residents and visitors to use. Some of these stations are among the most heavily used in the Red Bike system. We have also been experimenting with flashing stop signs and vehicle speed signs that can be moved to problem areas. These measures help to reduce traffic hazards which allows for increased reliance upon pedestrian/cycling activities. Historically, other activities or functions that I have supported and voted for are, proclamations for Bike Month, Riding Forward, and bicycle/pedestrian corridor feasibility studies. We have examined several traffic calming methods and are currently in the design phase of significant pedestrian safety improvements to the Monmouth Street corridor. We also recently completed the walking trail around the new dog park which connects Nelson Place to 6th Street next to the library.

Question 2: 

Some communities and organizations in Northern Kentucky are doing work outside of the criminal justice system to support people returning from home from incarceration – things like ban the box, mediation and restorative justice processes to keep people from incarceration, and investment in social services in the community to help address structural concerns. If elected, what initiatives or policies would you advance in order to support people returning from incarceration?

We have long supported providing employment opportunities for our residents being released from incarceration. Over the years we have had quite a few that have been in the employment of the City. Unfortunately, we are a very small employer as we only have 115 employees, with the greatest majority of them being in our public safety departments. Since the judicial system already implemented diversion/mediation many years ago, I believe that program has had a significant impact on reducing the numbers of incidents that previously became part of someone’s criminal record. From a local level we have little authority to enact further policies that would have a major impact outside of our boundaries. We are always willing to express our support through resolution for State action such as decriminalizing many minor offenses if it is prudent and responsible to do so.

Question 3: 

Newport 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 leading them to feel segregated from the rest of Newport. Some fear being the next to be relocated due to new city projects, or fear rising rents forcing them to move. Others have faced issues with absentee landlords that make it hard for routine maintenance to be done. If elected, what will you do to make sure we have safe, fair, and affordable housing in Newport?

I agree that Newport has provided much more affordable housing opportunities that most Northern Kentucky communities. As for being concentrated in a handful of neighborhoods, I believe that statement is very misleading. Being a city of only 3.5 square miles and under 16,000 residents, we only have a few neighborhoods. In order to truly accomplish an effective approach to this problem, it needs to be embraced as a regional issue. Historically, such housing has been relegated or placed in areas with the least resistant path. In other words those cities such as Newport and Covington that have embraced it. Since other communities have not been so open to the idea of affordable housing, it has been in effect, relegated to a small area of the region. All future efforts and programs should focus on a wider distribution of opportunities and I would encourage that conversation and advocate for that to occur. We have locally been very aggressive in dealing with sub-standard housing provided by many absentee landlords. Our programs have been proven in identifying and pursuing appropriate action dealing with such owners. We have eliminated or corrected many such landlords and properties through enforcement, condemnations, code liens and foreclosure actions that have opened the door for a much higher level of quality affordable housing in various areas of the city.

 

Question 4: 

Newport has been an active part in the Riverfront Commons project that seeks to connect the river cities and protect the integrity of local riverbanks, and a few years ago added recycling to curbside pickup for all city residences, making our city a regional leader in sustainability. However, there are additional steps our city can take to save residents money and promote sustainability, including enacting an Energy Performance Assessment District (EPAD). Would you support any policies to promote equitable sustainability, including but not limited to an EPAD district? Why or why not?

I was an advocate for and supported the adoption of a master development agreement with the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance. This agreement created an Energy Project Assessment District (EPAD) within the City of Newport, this was accomplished in 2016. Subsequently we have invested heavily in changing our old inefficient streetlights to LED on a city wide basis, resulting in a huge reduction in the cost and waste of energy. Most recently, we approved the expenditure of 1.4 million dollars for the purchase of a more efficient cooling system for the city building, again resulting in a significant reduction in energy use and cost. The city has also sponsored and supported tree plantings for well over three decades, the purchase of more energy efficient equipment and many other activities to reduce our energy consumption. We are currently working with Duke Energy to allow the placement of solar panels at the old landfill. As long as I am a member of the board, I will remain committed to and support these type of programs and firmly believe it is our obligation to future generations.

Question 5: 

Newport residents pride ourselves on being a place where all are welcome. Regardless of where someone is from, what they look like, if or how they worship, whom they love, or the pronouns they use, we want them to make a home here. Recent state and national events, including the killing of Breonna Taylor at the hands of police in Louisville, have made it clear though that Black people do note feel safe or welcome – here or anywhere. What steps does the city need to take to make sure that community concerns about policing policies or hate groups targeting our community are heard and policing policies and practices are changed to prove that Newport believes that Black Lives Matter? What will you do as a City Commissioner to ensure that everyone feels safe and welcome in our city?

Newport welcomes people from all backgrounds, as our diverse population reflects, people feel safe and welcomed. Our community outreach is paramount, and we have a great relationship with our local NAACP President whom offers consistent guidance, such as Implicit Bias training, to all of our public employees. Upon invitation, and during the recent protests in other cities, our police chief attended the NAACP meeting to answer questions and participate in real and honest conversations. The City of Newport has, for the last 20 years, proudly helped sponsor an annual Martin Luther King Jr. Luncheon at the Newport Syndicate. Newport Police Department has had a, neck restraints are prohibited, policy for several years, and all policing policies are reviewed, and updated as needed, on a regular basis. The City of Newport as a whole, including residents, businesses, and public servants have put forth outstretched arms to anyone that would consider Newport their home. As a City Commissioner, I can attest that we have gone above and beyond in our efforts to attract as many new residents and businesses as possible without even the thought of considering where they are from, what they look like, if or how they worship, whom they love, or the pronouns they use. We have directed all city, including first responders, to be there for every citizen in every way we can.