COVINGTON, Ga. - A Covington resident since he was just six-years-old, West Ward Councilman Kenneth Morgan has become a fixture around the City of Covington and is using his newest platform as City of Covington Councilman to make changes he has long sought.
After a 19-year tenure as a City of Covington employee, Morgan is drawing on personal and professional experiences from his time as a city employee and the years he spent living in Covington to improve the quality of life for everyone.
Morgan has been on the City Council for just 15 months, but his impact can already be felt. Below is an interview with Morgan, in his own words.
You spent nearly 20 years as a City of Covington employee before you became a councilman. What benefit is that to Covington residents and current City of Covington employees?
KM: I really enjoyed my time as a City of Covington employee. And let me point out that I am still technically a City of Covington employee. I still have 13,000 bosses and they are a lot more vocal now that I am on the Council than they were when I worked at City Hall.
I noticed several things when I was working at City Hall that I promised myself I would work on improving if I ever had the opportunity. I have that opportunity now and I have worked with City officials to improve the environment for city employees. I asked the Human Resources department to work on a training session for every city employee to educate them on workplace diversity. We just completed our last session. The City of Covington has nearly 320 employees and I am proud to say that every one of us has completed the training.
Another thing we as a council try to do is make sure our City employees are compensated appropriately. I think it is fair to say that you are not going to get rich as a local government employee, so these men and women are doing this to make an honest living and they have a servant’s heart. We just want to make sure we retain the employees we have. We do that by letting them know they are appreciated, fairly compensated, have access to competitive benefits and have the best tools we can give them to do their job.
It is rewarding to me when current employees thank me for the efforts I have made. I appreciate them noticing my efforts, and I can honestly say the connectivity between myself and current employees has not been lost.
You are one of the two newest members on the Council. What is your proudest accomplishment so far?
KM: One of my campaign promises to the entire City, but especially those in the West Ward, was to eradicate blight. We are battling absentee landlords and it is a tough battle, but we are heading in the right direction. I want to demolish abandoned houses, clean up the lots and then put something new in their place. That is how you revitalize an area. We have made some progress, but honestly, we are just scratching the surface. We have a long way to go.
I recently volunteered to serve on the Covington Redevelopment Authority. That was a necessary step in achieving this goal. I want to give attention to all the areas in Covington impacted by blight. Even if we can do just a couple things in each neighborhood, it will let those residents know they aren’t forgotten. I plan on personally seeing every piece of property the CRA owns. I may have contacts or ideas the CRA doesn’t and we may be able to move forward with some things that weren’t previously available or thought of.
Another thing I am proud of is the review of President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. We do a nice job of following the guidelines in that report, but we never had anyone review it until I asked. The diversity training I mentioned earlier actually came from that report. There is an initiative in there to train all new and current police officers in diversity. I thought it would be a great idea to train the entire city staff and thankfully, we were able to. Each employee completed the four hour class and we will have follow up training moving forward. Each class will build on the last.
One other thing I am proud of is sort of personal. I wanted to hit ground running from my first day as a Councilman. I wanted to show people I am active so I go to as many groundbreaking and ribbon cutting ceremonies as possible. Any time I can do something and interact with the public, I want to do it. This job is full time for me. Not just two council meetings a month.
What are a few things you want to see happen as you continue your term?
KM: As I mentioned earlier, we have made some progress eradicating blight, particularly in the West Ward. We have a very long way to go, but we have jumped in the pool. Now we have to swim.
I also want to see the City of Covington utilize modern technology more efficiently. I am not saying we use floppy disks and dial up Internet at City hall, we are far from that. But there are so many great programs and software out there that will help our employees do their job more expeditiously and at a lower cost. That is a benefit to the citizens as well. We are progressive, but we can always look for ways to do the job better, quicker and at a reduced cost.
The same goes for the relationship between the Covington Police Department and our citizens. I know there is a good relationship there. But like I just said, there is always room for improvement and I want to explore some ways to help foster that positive atmosphere. We are doing a good job already. I just always strive for improvement. It is in my DNA.
Are there any closing thoughts you would like to share?
KM: Yes, a few quick things. I hate to see parts of the West Ward in the condition they are in today. But with some much needed attention, it can be reversed. A rejuvenated West Ward is good for all of Covington and we should all work towards that goal.
I always ask people to remember, I am one of six votes on the Council. A lot of things I am in favor of don’t get approved. That is the way it goes and I understand that. We still have to support the majority though because that is how democracy works and is what this country was built on.
Lastly, I want to bring some positive vibes to the city so I am starting my television show up again. “What’s your story?” aired for six years before I took time off to campaign for this Council seat. I get asked all the time when it is coming back, so I decided to bring it back.
It is a one hour show that I produce and host and we bring people on to talk about individual life stories that are uplifting or accomplishments. Everyone has a story. Some good and some not so good, but I want to showcase people that have done extraordinary things and provide some motivation and encouragement. It will air by the end of June on Comcast channels 180, 183 and 184. I hope you check it out.
“In his own words” is a series provided by the City of Covington touching on each member of the Covington City Council.