It’s been almost four months since Julie Metzger-Aubuchon was sworn in as the Florence mayor. Speaking with LINK nky, she detailed what this role means to her and why so many people love to call Florence home.
Aubuchon owns Metzger Eye Care, which she took over from her father back 1995. Like her father, who served on the Florence City Council, Aubuchon has served since 1999.
“One of the most touching moments from the night when I was sworn in as mayor was to have Judge Mehling wear red socks as a tribute to my father,” Aubuchon said.
Dr. Ferd Metzger was a Korean War veteran who always wore red socks in tribute to his fallen war comrades. Aubuchon said she felt his spirit with her that night, and he who ultimately encouraged her to run for office in the first place.
“I grew up here,” she said. “My dad was on city council and he was also an optometrist, and my mom and dad both kind of instilled in us to get involved in the community.”
Growing up, Aubuchon’s family was active in the St. Paul church and Florence Lions Club. They also fundraised for many years for the American Heart Association and the Florence Women’s Club.
Having been involved in this community from the jump, Aubuchon notes how much knowledge that has brought to her new role as mayor.
“I feel that my experience enabled me to hit the ground running,” Aubuchon said. “By utilizing my management skills and in-depth knowledge of city operations, I have met with each department and the supervisor-level employees to establish communication and review department goals. It was important to me that our employees know that I have the knowledge, passion and dedication to continue to move the city forward in a positive direction.”
Aubuchon told LINK nky that during her very early city council days, she and her father would go to lunch and discuss what was happening in and around town.
“I hung on his every word when it came to explaining council’s history on street projects, police matters, or other city business,” she said. “What I wouldn’t give to be at lunch with him again today.”
As she applies those words from her father in her current role as mayor, Aubuchon has been busy for the last four months.
“The first week on the job, I met with each department and every manager in those departments,” she said. “I reviewed my priorities with them as the platform that I had campaigned: public safety, recreation amenities, economic opportunity. Our employees take pride in what they do and have bought into that vision.”
Joshua Hunt, director of business and community development of Florence, said he is honored to work with such a driven leader.
“Mayor Aubuchon’s diverse background in business ownership, advanced education, and local and state government involvement has made her transition into the Mayor’s Office seamless,” Hunt said. “She has met with almost every regional stakeholder. She is excited about how connecting Florence with the broader region can help further her vision for her hometown.”
While Aubuchon has been preparing for this role for what seems to have been her entire career, one thing threw her off.
“I did have an unexpected opportunity to meet the president of the United States in my first week,” she said. “I have a great respect for the office and was excited to see him and many other national and state leaders at the Ohio River bridge announcement in January.”
After proudly reflecting on her last four months as mayor, Aubuchon looks forward to continuing the city’s interest in business investments.
“We’re fortunate to have millions of dollars of investments by companies such as Turfway Racing and Gaming, St. Elizabeth and Ford’s Garage,” she said. “We look forward to the groundbreaking for Drury Inn, and new-to-market retailers like Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Roy Rogers.”
Florence is attracting people from all walks of life and socioeconomic levels, Aubuchon adds, saying that the city joins together at the junction between the urban city of Cincinnati to the north and the rural countryside to the south.
“Florence is my hometown. I’ve literally traveled the globe, and I’m so grateful to know that as a community we’re among the best places to live and raise a family,” she said. “Florence is also a great place to visit, work, shop and be entertained. There’s something here for everyone.”
Those who work with Aubuchon speak highly of her, including city clerk Melissa Kramer who said overall, Mayor Aubuchon has brought new energy and excitement to the city of Florence.
“Change always has uncertainties and since Mayor Aubuchon’s first week in office, she has went above and beyond anything we could have hoped for as a new leader,” Kramer said. “Her passion for the city is heartwarming.”