Longtime incumbent Edgewood Mayor John Link faces a challenges this election from Mike Thelen. Both candidates talked with LINK nky ahead of the Nov. 8 vote.
Mike Thelen, challenger
Mike Thelen was born and raised in the city, is married and has a grown daughter.
Thelen attended Covington Latin School and Covington Catholic High School, from which he graduated. He went on to attend Thomas More College, and then received a Masters in safety management from West Virginia University in 1991.
Thelen has long been unhappy with Edgewood’s governing body and challenges the mayor and council periodically at council meetings.
“The main thing is that I am a safety guy, that’s what I do,” Thelen said. “I have seen some safety violations through the years, and they don’t pay any attention to me. I have been a volunteer at the city for 20 years, and I kept my mouth shut, but they just blew me off.”
One incident that he claimed happened involved multiple members of the fire department trying on the same N95 mask when testing for size. He also suggested that there is a lack of transparency about on-the-job injuries.
Transparency is also an issue in general, Thelen argues, and he wants Edgewood to be more like neighboring Ft. Wright, which Thelen argues sets a better example.
“If I am elected mayor, I will institute that transparency in the city,” Thelen said of Edgewood.
“We need to sit down and talk about what regulations that we are compliant with, and what regulations we need to get into compliance,” he said. “We have to be compliant from the top down.”
Thelen also criticized the city’s decision to place what is referred to as a “baby box” at its firehouse. A mother who wants to surrender a baby can do so at such a box with no harm to the child, and no questions asked.
Thelen said that nearby Ft. Mitchell had already placed such a box at its firehouse and was not necessary in Edgewood.
Thelen also criticized a monument outside the city building, erected this year to honor people who give back to the city. Thelen argued that the $30,000 could have been better applied to help residents.
“The type of toxic leadership in Edgewood first became known in the military,” Thelen said. “I am sick of it. If I am elected, I will allow and encourage people to speak at the meetings. I will also make the city more user friendly.”
John Link, incumbent
John Link is running for his seventh term as mayor of Edgewood. He has lived in the city since 1974, and he and his wife have raised four children there.
Link served on city council from 1976 to 1982, and again from 1990 to 1993, after which he ran for his first term as mayor and won.
He has also served as president of the Northern Kentucky Municipal Government League, Northern Kentucky Area Planning Council, Manufacturing Agents of Cincinnati, Covington Catholic Boosters and the St. Pius Holy Name Society. He has also served on the Kentucky League of Cities, Kentuckians for Better Transportation, Disaster Emergency Services, Knights of Columbus, Edgewood Fire District, and the Sanitation Districts Committee for Storm Water Run off.
“I think the major issue in the city is infrastructure,” Link said. “Especially Dudley Road, making it a nice, smooth community road. But it has to be done right, and we are making sure of that. We have budgeted the money and taken in the state and federal money to be able to afford to do it the right way.”
He said the other issue is to keep the taxes low. The city reduced its tax rates this year and they are now the lowest in 25 years, he said.
“We manage the money well in the city,” he explained. “We were one of the first cities to adopt the OpenGov system where everything is transparent, and people can see what we spend money on, and where the money goes.”
Link is very proud of the sidewalks in the city.
“When I first became mayor in 1993, my goal was to have a very walkable city, where residents could get everywhere in the city by walking safely on sidewalks,” he said. “Over the years we have been able to make that happen. Our sidewalks connect us to Erlanger and to Crestview Hills. The city is safe enough that people walk all hours of the day, and even walk at night. Since our motto is ‘Where everyday is a walk in the park’, it is good that people feel they can walk whenever they want to.”
Link also cited upgrades to city parks. Recently the city held a ribbon-cutting for a renovation at Presidents Park, and the same day held its annual Halloween event which is always well-attended.
The city added the White House to Presidents Park, which people can rent, and the city will next renovate the senior center in Freedom Park.
Link said he has heard some of the accusations made by his opponent, and he acknowledged that they have had a couple of incidents in the city in the past, and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has stepped in.
“We’re not bulletproof,” Link said. “If we have problems, we always work hard to fix the problems. No one wants people to be hurt, or rules to be broken, so we work to fix it. Nothing recently, though.”
As for the monument near the city building that received criticism from Thelen, Link said that it is for honoring people who give their time to the city.
Link credits city employees and city council members for what he sees as a list of successes in Edgewood.
“Really nothing is an individual effort. We have great employees and a great city, and everyone works together, because we all love our city,” he said.
“I want our residents to know that we are not just here to take the tax money,” he said. “We constantly strive to give the services necessary to make it work for the residents.”
“We are always striving to be the number one city in the state of Kentucky,” he stated. “I love this city, and I really like being mayor. That’s why I am fighting as hard as I can to be re-elected!”