Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Independence: Four who opposed insurance tax win

By Cindy Schroeder
Enquirer staff writer

INDEPENDENCE - Four challengers who fought an insurance tax last year were elected to City Council Tuesday in this fast-growing Kenton County suburb.

Incumbent Donna Yeager was the top vote-getter among 11 candidates running at large for six Independence City Council seats. The two-year term pays $3,000 a year.

Yeager will join incumbent Carol Franzen and newcomers Mike Little, Margaret Cook, JoAnne Cobble and Kent Kelso on council in January. Yeager, Little, Cook, Cobble and Kelso fought an insurance tax - a tax on homeowners' and auto insurance premiums - last year and called for fiscal responsibility and responsible growth.

Jeff Hemsath, who also campaigned with the anti-insurance tax group, finished seventh Tuesday. Others defeated were incumbents Mary Pat Behler and Jim Bushong; Jim Kudera, a former councilman and interim mayor; and Daniel E. Koch, a member of the city's board of adjustments.

Yeager attributed her first-place finish to "being fiscally responsible and trying to have a good quality of life for citizens of all ages.''

"Obviously, the insurance tax was a deciding issue in this election," said second-place finisher Little. "The citizens are tired of the taxation and spending.''

Little said the race came down to issues.

"The mud-slinging, half-truths masquerading as campaigning that my opponents used were unfortunate," Little said. "The citizens were well aware of the issues and voted accordingly. My hope is that future campaigns will be issue-oriented, rather than of the personal-attack variety."

Most of the challengers said they were drawn into the race because of concerns about tax and spending issues in a city that saw its population jump 43 percent between 1990 and 2000. Other issues included better land-use planning and road improvements.


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