Neighborhood advocate a longtime fixture on boards, City initiatives
COVINGTON, Ky. – For more than a decade, Steve Hayden has been a fixture in the front rows of the audience at Covington’s Board of Commission’s Tuesday night meetings, following along as policy is discussed and voted on.
Starting Sept. 5, he’ll be one of the five officials doing the discussing and voting.
Hayden, a resident of the Historic Licking-Riverside neighborhood, was chosen by Mayor Joe Meyer and City Commissioners in a meeting Thursday evening to fill a vacancy on the Commission. Commissioner Tim Downing was unable to attend the meeting.
With his wife of 34 years, Catherine, at his side, Hayden was promptly sworn into office after the vote. He will serve until the end of 2024 in the seat vacated by Nolan Nicaise, who abruptly resigned Aug. 8, saying he could be a better advocate for residents in a non-elected position.
Hayden was one of 29 people who applied after members of the Commission asked for resumes. Mayor Pro Tem/Commissioner Ron Washington said each applicant showed a range of experience throughout the community and he hopes they’ll look at the City’s many boards and consider other ways to serve.
Commissioners were impressed with Hayden’s record of community service and expect him to quickly acclimate to the role.
“What impressed me about Mr. Hayden was that he’s a community servant,” said Washington. “He’s attended our Commission meetings throughout, and I believe it will be very easy for him to get caught up to speed.”
Commissioner Shannon Smith echoed Washington’s appreciation of Hayden’s consistent engagement.
“Mr. Hayden has probably been to every Commission meeting that most of us have been to in the past three years, and that’s appreciated,” said Smith. “I think he will quickly get acclimated to the position.”
Meyer congratulated Hayden and described him as a “natural” for the position.
“We think you’re a natural and that you have a good understanding of our process," said Meyer. "I think bringing you up to speed is going to be fairly easy.”
Professionally, Hayden spent 49 years in IT systems analysis and project management “spread over many industries and corporate forms.” He has a degree in economics from the University of Kentucky.
Since retiring to Covington in 2012, he has served on his neighborhood association’s governing board and has served on many boards and commissions, including the Covington Neighborhood Collaborative and the Devou Park Advisory Committee. He helped establish pollinator gardens around Covington as part of the Mayor’s Monarch Pledge, served on the 2019 “Bespoke” citizen task force that established the vision for a new future city hall, and was involved in the laborious creation of the Neighborhood Development Code (specifically as it relates to historic preservation) that refashioned the City’s approach to zoning and land use.
Hayden said he saw his work on the Commission as “a natural progression” of his civic and volunteer work on City initiatives.
“I have always been intrigued by the machinations of local government, or City government … the planning for the future in the civic sense and the power of multiple minds getting together,” he said.
He said he didn’t walk into office with a specific agenda as it relates to pet issues or programs.
“I’m here as a generalist,” Hayden said. “It all needs to be dealt with, it’s all important. Obviously some things more than others – it’s a matter of urgencies – but deadlines will determine priorities. Once I’m in the saddle and ride this horse for a while, I might well develop a cause or focus.”
He said the Covington public shouldn’t expect flamboyance.
“I’ll be a quiet listener for a while, flying under the radar as much as possible,” he said. “If you want to be effective, you can’t be effective in a vacuum. To get things done, you need to know how to get things done – and that changes based on the situation.”
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