For the first time in more than three decades, the name “Peluso” is not on the Newport ballot. Jerry Peluso, a city commissioner for 24 years and mayor for 12, is not running for re-election.
His cousin, Frank Peluso, a Newport city commissioner for 16 years, is also stepping aside from city government and not running.
Both are related to the most colorful figure in Northern Kentucky political history – Johnny “TV” Peluso.
Johnny TV is a legend in Newport history, having served as mayor and as a city commissioner from 1964 to 1982, during Newport’s “Sin City” days, when the city was known for organized crime, gambling, and strip clubs. He served four years in prison in the late ‘80s but was also known for his generosity and compassion for the less fortunate. He passed away in 2015 at the age of 93. Frank is his son; Jerry is his nephew.
Both Jerry and Frank are staying in town but have decided it’s time to quit politics. Jerry is co-owner of Peluso’s Market, a mainstay on Monmouth Street for 80 years, and plans to spend more time there and with his family.
“I’ve seen a lot of good things happen, and I got to work with a lot of talented people,” he said. He was one of a group of city legislators who worked to clean up Newport, passing ordinances banning nudity, putting pressure on vice-related business, and attracting new businesses.
“I had a small part in it,” he says, modestly.
Frank started working for the city reading water meters and worked his way up to director of the water works. He and his wife ran a catering business for years. “Then I did something I said I would never do; I ran for office,” he said. He served as vice mayor several times during his terms in office. “I hope and pray the city is in better shape than when I started,” he said.
He’ll continue to serve on the Campbell County Courthouse Commission, an appointed post, and put together the well-known display of Christmas lights and decorations at his home.
Although there will be no Peluso in Newport city government after this year, one member of the family will be serving in Campbell County. Jim Peluso, Jerry’s brother, is running unopposed for Campbell County constable.
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