Sunday, January 02, 2000

Metro: 21 To Watch

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Picking notables of the past who have made an impact on how we live today is a breeze compared to singling out a group who will affect our future.

        The list below of Tristate people to watch in the first part of the new century is by no means complete. It could run to the hundreds with people who, in their public lives, will emerge and end up shaping the way the rest of us live.

        But we don't know their names yet.

        So, for the time being, the following 21 are good bets:

        • Alicia Reece: The 28-year-old first-term Cincinnati city councilwoman stunned political insiders by running fifth in her first try for elected office last fall, making her the youngest woman ever elected to City Council. She could end up spending the next eight years on council, but, given her youth, the sky is the limit. In a local Democratic party desperate for new blood, she is already being touted as a potential candidate for Congress or some state office. Already at City Hall, she is carving out her niche as an advocate for health care, job training and children's services.

        • James Votruba: Mr. Votruba, in his first two years as president of Northern Kentucky University, is bringing lots of good things (and lots of money) to the Highland Heights campus. Many in the know say he's not here for long — just long enough to make his mark, make a name for himself and move on to bigger and better things. What to look for: Mr. Votruba pushing the legislature hard this year for equal state funding, as well as a push for an arena at NKU.

        • Robin Piper: The former Butler County assistant prosecutor is the endorsed GOP candidate to challenge John Holcomb as prosecutor next fall. This will be first challenge Holcomb has faced since 1988. Mr. Piper, 46, was an assistant prosecutor for 14 years but resigned in 1998 after a falling-out with Mr. Holcomb. The pair have already locked horns in what promises to be a spirited battle for the seat Mr. Holcomb, 62, has held since 1973.

        • Dr. Kenneth Foon: He's the new director of the Barrett Cancer Center. With the French family trust money, the new Vontz Center, and efforts under way to make the University of Cincinnati one of the National Cancer Institute's designated comprehensive cancer centers, Dr. Foon will be spearheading the most significant expansion of cancer research and treatment in Cincinnati in many years.

        • Suzanne Burke: Despite the mundane title of Hamilton County director of administrative services, Ms. Burke is No. 2 in Hamilton County administration. She has taken on just about every hard-to-deal-with

        problem the county faces. Her territory includes dealing with the construction of new stadiums for the Reds and Bengals and writing the county's budget. County Administrator David Krings and the three county commissioners depend on her more and more. Expect Ms. Burke to take an even bigger role in county government in years to come.

        • Tom Raga: The first-term Deerfield Township trustee who plans to run for the 2nd Ohio House District seat now held by George Terwilleger. He has been instrumental in bringing economic development to the township and has helped the area gain an identity.

        • Pat DeWine: He's the other young newcomer to Cincinnati City Council. In his first bid for elected office, the 31-year-old lawyer spent $363,000 and wasn't shy about tapping into his political network of his father, U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine. As one of the organizers of the successful campaign to bring direct election of the mayor to Cincinnati last year, he has already had an impact. Expect him to be a Republican force locally and statewide in the years to come.

        • Johnathan Holifield: Mr. Holifield, vice president of the local NAACP chapter, was active in the successful “stronger mayor” initiative in 1999 with Mr. DeWine and others. The former Bengal running back is a civil rights lawyer and is considered a rising star and potential political candidate that both parties would like to have.

        • Charlie Luken: The top vote getter for council in 1999, Mr. Luken is odds-on favorite to become the city's first directly elected mayor since before the reforms of 1925. If he wins the 2001 mayoral election and is re-elected four years later, he could end up being mayor of the city for the first decade of the new century. Or he could end up running for something else — a statewide office, perhaps. Even governor. The Ohio Democratic Party now has Democrats in the mayor's chairs of the state's three largest cities; and all of them — Mr. Luken, Cleveland"s Michael White and Columbus' Michael Coleman — are considered potential gubernatorial candidates.

        • Keith Fangman: The president of the Queen City Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police is the most political and most visible of FOP presidents Cincinnati has seen since Elmer Dunaway in the 1970s. The former City Council aide and street cop is an aggressive advocate for police and chief defender of cops accused to excessive force. He can be expected to dog city administrators and council and some would not be surprised to see him run for office.

•         Wayne Carlisle: The northern Kentucky developer has his bell; now he's working on a monument. The World Peace Bell in Newport that rang in the new year was part of the dream for Mr. Carlisle. He's still dreaming of building his 1,200-foot Millennium Monument to complete his vision for Newport's riverfront. Funding for the project has been elusive, but Mr. Carlisle and partner David Hosea don't give up easily.

•         Jerry Carroll: The former Turfway Park owner is on the verge of doing something that seemed like a crazy dream only a few short years ago — bringing the NASCAR phenomenon to the Tristate. By June, his Kentucky Speedway, a $152 million project with 65,000 seats and 60 luxury boxes, is expected to be up and running. Mr. Carroll and his partners hope the 1.5-mile tri-oval track will become one of the principal stops on the NASCAR circuit.

        • Ken Lawson: No defense lawyer in Cincinnati has had a higher profile for the past decade; and the string of high-visibility cases is likely to continue for Mr. Lawson. In much of the city's African-American community, he is seen as a hero, with cases such as the civil rights lawsuit he filed on behalf of the family of Michael Carpenter, killed by Cincinnati police in a March traffic stop. He has harsh critics as well, particularly in the law enforcement community. They bristled in 1999 when he hired Derek Farmer, convicted of murder in 1974, as a lawyer in his firm.

        • Joe Deters: The former Republican county prosecutor and now state treasurer may well be a candidate for Ohio governor early in the new century after fellow Cincinnatian Bob Taft finishes his turn. Mr. Deters also will continue to have considerable impact on politics at the local level. Mr. Deters took over the chairmanship of the Hamilton County Republican Party late last year and will lead it into a 2000 election where there is going to be tremendous pressure on the Hamilton County party to produce votes for the GOP presidential nominee and win its own races for state representative seats and County Commission seats up for election.

        • Rob Portman: If a Republican wins the White House in 2000 — especially if that Republican is George W. Bush — look for the Second District congressman from Cincinnati to have a high-profile role in the new administration. Now in his seventh year in the House, Mr. Portman has become one of the most influential members close to Speaker Dennis Hastert. His long association with the Bushes — he was President George Bush's congressional liaison — could very well land him back in the west wing of the White House. Some people think he'd like to have the Oval Office to himself someday.

        • J. Kenneth Blackwell: The Ohio secretary of state and former Cincinnati mayor is general chairman of Steve Forbes' presidential campaign and has ties to many of the top conservatives in the GOP. Mr. Forbes is unlikely to be the GOP nominee; but if a Republican is elected president next fall, an African-American Republican with a resume as long as Mr. Blackwell's is certain to be on the list for appointment to a Cabinet position or some other high-profile administration job.

•         Steven Adamowski: Possibly no one in Cincinnati starts the year 2000 with a fuller agenda than the superintendent of Cincinnati Public Schools. Facing another campaign soon to pass a school levy — voters defeated one last fall — the superintendent is in the midst of leading the public schools through a dramatic reshaping, including a shift from elementary and middle schools to K-8 schools, and cutbacks in spending, while at the same time trying to improve academic performance.

        • Jim Callahan: The most visible, powerful member of Northern Kentucky's Frankfort delegation, the Wilder Democrat and House Majority Caucus chairman has the ear of the governor and the ability to move big legislation through the legislature. When business, community and other leaders need something for the region from Frankfort, they see Mr. Callahan.

        • Bill Butler: With the scandal of the parking garage bidding fiasco behind him, the Covington developer is back to doing what he has always done best — helping transform Northern Kentucky into a viable and exciting community with his first-class projects on the riverfront and near the airport.

        • Bob Holscher: Over 30 years the director of aviation at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport has quietly built one of the best airports in the world. But 2000 brings lots of challenges, including the continuing gripes about high fares, plans for a new runway and the prospect of less money from the federal government slowing the airport's growth.

        • Susan Dlott: A recent Clinton appointee to the U.S. District Court in Cincinnati, she is an unabashed liberal who already is handing down decisions 180 degrees from those of former law firm colleague Judge Sandra S. Beckwith across the hall in the courthouse.


People to watch in the 21st Century
- Metro: 21 To Watch
Sports: 21 To Watch
Arts and Entertainment: 21 To Watch
Business: 21 To Watch
Food: 21 To Watch
Nation and World: 21 To Watch