By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer
EVENDALE - It's back to the future for new Mayor Don Apking.
Having defeated the incumbent, Doug Lohmeier, by 60 votes in November's election, Apking is back in the mayor's seat four years after term limits forced him to leave it.
"I missed it and felt like I wanted to get back into it again," Apking said. "Doug did a good job. I'm not in here to make a lot of drastic changes. I just want to make things nicer."
Apking's top goals for Evendale are similar to Lohmeier's. He wants to revitalize the Reading Road commercial corridor and to set up long-term financial support for the Gorman Heritage Farm, a historic 100-acre organic farm the village recently acquired from the Cincinnati Nature Center.
"We've studied Reading Road so many times, and we've never come up with a plan we've been able to feel comfortable with," he said. "I don't think Reading Road is blighted. I think Reading Road needs a plan."
Apking, 65, takes over Evendale's top elected position almost two years after the village's controversial hiring of former Cincinnati Police Officer Stephen Roach, whose fatal shooting of an Over-the-Rhine man sparked Cincinnati's 2001 riots. The hiring provoked emotional reactions, pro and con, throughout Greater Cincinnati.
Roach began his new job as an Evendale police officer in January 2002 after he was acquitted of criminal charges in the shooting, but before an internal Cincinnati police investigation found that he had lied about the shooting to fellow police.
Lohmeier said he doesn't know whether his support of the Roach hiring cost him the mayor's race.
"I can't really say," Lohmeier said. "I think there were a lot of people who didn't like the publicity Evendale was getting."
Apking had publicly backed the hiring of Roach and says he still thinks it was the correct decision.
"(Roach) has done a fabulous job," Apking said. "I'm proud of the fact that the village hired him."
Randy Cox, an Evendale resident who organized a citizens group to oppose Roach's hiring, said the Roach issue was one of many factors that led to Lohmeier's defeat at the polls. His group didn't support either Lohmeier or Apking in the mayor's race.
His group campaigned for two council candidates this year. One of them, Carolyn Smiley-Robinson, was elected.
"The Roach thing opened up the door for the citizens to look at the politics of Evendale," Cox said.
He said it revealed a mayor and a village council that didn't consider citizens' opinions when making decisions.
"They didn't want to listen to citizens' viewpoints," Cox said.
Lohmeier dismissed the accusation as completely false.
Evendale by the numbers
3,090 - Number of residents.
$91,052 - Median household income.
$211,900 - Median housing value.
56 - percentage of adults over 25 years old with a bachelor's degree or higher (1,140 out of 2,047).
Mayor Don Apking
Family: Wife, Sue; two married daughters and four grandchildren.
Education: Bachelor's degree, University of Cincinnati; attended master's program at Xavier University.
Occupation: Retired in 1993 as security manager and fire chief at Procter & Gamble Co.'s Ivorydale complex.
Previous public offices: Evendale mayor, 1987-1999; Evendale city councilman, 1981-1987.
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