Smith named city manager

Covington’s new city manager, Ken Smith, poses with Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear recently at Frank’s Old Town Café on Pike Street.

Department director held interim position for 13 weeks

COVINGTON, Ky. – Thirteen weeks after he stepped into Covington’s city manager position on an interim basis, Ken Smith now has the job permanently.

The Covington Board of Commissioners voted tonight to approve the appointment of Smith, the City’s Neighborhood Services director who had been doing both jobs since the Commission accepted City Manager David Johnston’s resignation on June 8.
Vice Mayor Ron Washington said he was impressed with Smith’s performance as a department head and even more impressed by how he has juggled the responsibilities of both positions.
“Ken will be excellent,” Washington said. “I’m pleased with his communication with the Commission, and I’m pleased with the morale of the staff under his interim watch.”
Smith said he was honored and humbled by the Commission’s confidence.
“I never aspired to this position, but I welcome the challenge,” he said. “I will do my absolute best to continue the city’s momentum, and I will always do what I believe is in the best interest of our citizens.”

Smith, who lives in Covington, came to City Hall in April 2018 as chief of Neighborhood Services. Under a reorganization, the department was created to pull together a variety of disjointed services and functions dedicated to improving life and the appearance of neighborhoods, namely Parks & Rec, Solid Waste and Recycling, Code Enforcement, Federal Grants/Housing Assistance, and the Housing Choice Voucher Program. 

Previously, Smith served for 11 years as executive director of Price Hill Will, a non-profit community development corporation in Cincinnati. Before that, he was chief operations officer of Brighton Properties Inc. and had worked at the Children’s Law Center of Northern Kentucky. He has been active as a volunteer or board member with numerous regional organizations.

Smith said Covington's momentum and upward trajectory have remained steady despite the pandemic.

“We didn’t have the luxury of slowing down during this transition period,” he said. “Our employees, especially the senior leadership, my department leaders, and our administrative staff, were there to offer assistance and encouragement with whatever I needed. We are lucky to have these folks, and I look forward to continuing to work with them every day to advance our goals.” 

Washington told an anecdote to demonstrate Smith’s commitment to Covington and its staff: An organization had arranged to use Randolph Park for an event one weekend, but when its members arrived, they found previous users had left the shelter house full of trash.
Washington called Smith to see if he could get hold of some City employees on the weekend to take care of the problem. But Washington was no sooner on the phone reporting back to the organization when they told him, “oh, the City is here working on it.”
In that case, “the City” turned out to be Smith and a couple of people.
“To me, that’s what leadership is about,” Washington said.
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