BY PATRICK CROWLEY
The Cincinnati Enquirer
-- It wasn't official, but about 150 of Ken Lucas' friends, family and supporters cheered Tuesday night when the congressman-elect from Boone County was ceremoniously sworn into office.
Mr. Lucas, 65, a Richwood Democrat, won't actually take the oath of office as Northern Kentucky's 4th District U.S. Representative until Jan. 6 in Washington.
But at Tuesday's ceremony, held at the brand-new $36 million Northern Kentucky Convention Center, Kenton County Judge-executive Rodney "Biz" Cain gave Mr. Lucas the same oath he'll take next month in the nation's capital.
"Through his years of community and political service Ken Lucas has improved the quality of life in Northern Kentucky," Mr. Cain said of his long-time friend and political ally.
"He'll do the same for the 4th District. . . . This is an honor to be here tonight with Ken."
After taking the oath, Mr. Lucas thanked the people in the room, most of whom worked for the campaign or donated money to it.
"Election night was one month ago tonight," Mr. Lucas said, with his wife, Mary, their five children and grandchildren surrounding him.
"The people in this room . . . and those up here with me made this possible. We're very thankful for that."
In the Nov. 3 election, Mr. Lucas defeated Republican state Sen. Gex "Jay" Williams of Verona in Boone County.
The 4th District seat had been held since 1986 by Southgate Republican Jim Bunning, elected last month to the U.S. Senate.
Prior to Mr. Bunning, the seat was held for 20 years by Republican Gene Snyder.
The 22-county district stretches along the Ohio River from Ashland in the east to Oldham County near Louisville in the west. It includes all of Northern Kentucky.
As the first Democratic congressman in the 4th District since 1966, Mr. Lucas said he wants to work to strengthen Social Security, improve education and help create jobs in the region, particularly in some of the high unemployment areas in eastern Kentucky.
"We've been successful with economic development and creating jobs in Northern Kentucky," said Mr. Lucas, a founding member of the Tri-County Economic Development Agency, the 11-year organization that recruits jobs and businesses to the region.
"I'd like to take some of what we've done here to some of the areas in the eastern part of the district. I know we are a different area and have a lot going for us here, but I'd like to take our spirit of cooperation to try and help bring in some jobs," he said.
In the 106th Congress, Mr. Lucas said, he also wants to work to improve computer and Internet access to classrooms.
"I think computer literacy is going to be as important to kids today as reading and writing were to our generation," he said. Mr. Lucas said he also wants to be a Congressman "for all the people of the 4th District."
"I'm not going up to Washington to be a partisan politician," he said. "I'm going there to serve the people of
Campbell County Clerk Jack Snodgrass, also a Democrat, said Mr. Lucas was able to carry Campbell County and win the election "because people knew he was going to go to Washington to look out for all of the district."
"He had a message, and he was sincere," said Mr. Snodgrass, the county's top Democratic vote-getter in the Nov. 3 election. "And people know his record and know he'll be accessible."
Ruth Bauman of Bellevue, who helped coordinate Mr. Lucas' Campbell County campaign, said Mr. Lucas was able to win because of his strong campaign organization.
"We didn't do anything too fancy or too special," Ms. Bauman said. "We just got good people who worked hard and go out and talked to people. That's what Ken wanted, and that's what he did to win."
During the event, Mr. Lucas announced two additions to his staff. Shirley Meihaus, a former Boone County commissioner, will be a field representative in Mr. Lucas' Northern Kentucky office. And Susan Brinkman of U.S. Sen. Wendell Ford's Covington district office, will work in Mr. Lucas' district office with District Director Jim Collins.