Republican vs democrat: Even the city council is politicized

My cmnt: These profiles are from the LJS and reveal the basic differences between Republican and democrat views of 1) the purpose of the city council 2) what values should be emphasized 3) what efforts should be prioritized 4) and why.

My cmnt: The three main historic purposes of the mayor and city council are 1) maintaining and insuring public safety 2) streets 3) sewers. The mayor directs the affairs of the city and is to be held in check by the city council. When a mayor starts dabbling in foreign policy for instance or declaring her city a sanctuary for illegal aliens in direct defiance of state and federal law and then has the rubber stamp of the city council we, the fair citizens of the city, are in for trouble and lawlessness. During the BLM and Antifa riots this past summer democrat mayors allowed their cities to burn, property to be destroyed and their citizens harmed by violence. This is just another reason to never vote for democrats.

My cmnt: The top three democrats received 57,767 votes. The top three Republicans received 50,151. The top three vote-getters are already on the city council and will likely remain on the city council after the general election.

Lincoln City Council

Top six voter-getters advance. Three will be elected to at-large seats on May 4.

Sändra Washington (i); 20,644

Bennie Shobe (i); 19,602

Roy A. Christensen (i); 19,365

Mary Hilton; 19,012

Tom Beckius; 17,521

Eric Burling; 11,774

Maggie Mae Squires; 5,623

Elina V. Newman; 3,675

Aurang Zeb; 2,230

Joseph Swanson; 2,199

Peter Kolozsy; 2,153

Trevor Reilly; 1,952

(i) = incumbent

By Margaret Reist Apr 6, 2021 – for the Lincoln Journal Star

Overall voter turnout for the school board, City Council and airport authority races was just under 25%, and more than two-thirds of those voters — 29,746 — cast their ballots early. A total of 14,528 voters went to the polls Tuesday.

My cmnt: Early voters = 29,746 + Day of voters = 14,528 = 44,274 Total voters. This represents <25% of all eligible voters which stands at approx 178,476. Each voter can vote for up to 3 city council candidates so the total of 113,976 for all candidates is close to that. The sad thing still is that 25% of committed voters determines the outcome for the other 75% who did not vote.

My cmnt: As you will see when you read the responses below we have a fundamental difference in worldviews between democrats and Republicans.

My cmnt: The dem base is prochoice (i.e., pro-abortion, that is the murdering of unborn children), nature worshippers (i.e., keeping or returning mother earth to her imagined perfect state (a climate state that has only existed a few thousand years), Darwinist (i.e., all life is the random meeting of chance and energy and blind forces), anti-Christian, pro-insanity (i.e., if I present as a dolphin I must be called a dolphin and you must pretend I am a dolphin), pro-communist, and pro-The Borg (i.e., the ultimate collective).

My cmnt: The Republican base is pro-America (as founded), pro-Bill of Rights, pro-capitalism, pro-freedom, pro-Free Enterprise, pro-Christian, pro-Limited Government (i.e., governments are instituted among men to protect life, liberty and property by enforcing contracts, protecting individual liberty and maintaining domestic tranquility), proLife, pro-Rule of Law, Creationist (i.e., all that is exhibits overwhelming evidence of intelligent design by God) and pro-Environment (i.e., wise and proper stewardship of air, land and water).

Mary Hilton

Mary Hilton

Age: 48

Lives near: U.S. 77 and Old Cheney

Occupation: Educator and issues advocate

Political party: Republican

Education: Bachelor of Science in business administration (accounting), Kansas State University

Website: HiltonForLincoln.com

What sets you apart from the other candidates seeking this office?

My background in accounting and municipal auditing provides me the skills and discernment to dig into budgets, plans and proposals and work with those who will carry them out; but it is my passion for good, basic and limited government that sets me apart from my opponents. Every decision I make will be to maximize the legitimate freedoms of individuals, families, churches and businesses.

What will you prioritize?

My campaign theme is “Back to Basics.” The City Council, as the legislative body, must work early and hard with each department to ensure that essential city services are budget priorities, properly funding public safety and maintenance of roads and other infrastructure. Since I believe in the free market, my other priorities include cutting unwieldy regulations, ending business-killing mandates, promoting our local economy and fighting for tax relief.

Who do you see as your core constituent and how will you engage with those you represent if elected?

As an at-large candidate, my core constituent is every single member of the Lincoln community. If elected, I will have 290,000-plus bosses. As a mother of seven children, I have spent most of my life as a listener, consensus-builder and decision-maker. I am approachable, teachable, and I look forward to working with each member of the Lincoln community that wants to be involved in their government.

How do you think the city should address calls for reformed policing?

There is no indication the Lincoln Police Department needs reform. The national mantra of defunding the police is not a serious proposal, it is a political slogan, and I will not play politics with lives and safety. The police must be given support in their essential task of safeguarding our community in a caring, respectful way. We want our first responders to be responsive and accountable to citizens. I will continue to promote good relationships between the police and community.

Do you support issuing bonds to finance a new central library that would replace the Bennett Martin Library on the old Pershing Center block? Why or why not?

My family has been blessed with access to Lincoln’s public libraries, through participating in the Summer Reading Program, using library resources while my children research school projects, and selecting books and movies to enjoy at home. I will always be grateful for and supportive of our library system. However, taking on debt that will tax our citizens and children well into the future is not the solution for financing a central library.

What policies or approaches should the city adopt to increase housing affordability?

I believe that affordable housing happens when the local economy is flourishing and when people can work to pay for their own homes. Lowering the tax burden, reducing regulations that go beyond necessary safety guidelines, and having housing available at all price points is also important. Lincoln should allow Sanitary Improvement Districts. By limiting the debt that SIDs can incur and ensuring that good engineering and solid management happens with each SID, we can safely promote natural and affordable growth.

A petition drive in 2012 blocked implementation of the Fairness Ordinance, meant to stop discrimination against LGBTQ people in housing, employment and public accommodation. Should the City Council repeal the Fairness Ordinance or put it on the ballot for a citywide vote?

Nine years ago, the 2012 Fairness Ordinance was successfully repealed by 10,000 Lincoln voters. Lincoln’s charter provides the citizens an opportunity to redress any ordinance passed within 15 days. At that time, City Council members had the opportunity to respond to the will of the people yet took no action. My promise to Lincoln citizens is I will listen and work hard to ensure the voices of all citizens are heard and each member is treated with dignity and respect.

Has the city done enough to fund street repairs? If not, what approach would you propose to get more road improvements done?

As I have listened to citizens door-to-door, their top concerns are high taxes and street maintenance. Pot-holed, unsalted and poorly funded and maintained roads are a result of misplaced budget priorities. Though vehicle owners pay wheel, motor vehicle and gas taxes, this essential city service has not been fully funded in decades. Citizens feel betrayed. Streets are needs which taxes are intended to fund. The City Council must use its investigative and budgetary powers to get it done without increasing taxes.

Do you support the mayor’s Climate Action Plan? Why or why not?

As a farmer’s daughter, I know the intrinsic value of stewardship. While the plan contains some worthwhile endeavors, it is the Green New Deal for Lincoln. As a whole, it threatens the economic prosperity of Lincoln. It will be the governing document through which all other plans and budgets are filtered, yet it contains few price tags. Riddled with excessive business and personal regulation, it will have an adverse effect, stunt economic growth and limit freedom. I vigorously oppose it.

With the city considering ways it can protect against future Salt Creek floods, what efforts would you support?

Living next to Salt Creek, after a big flood several years ago, we rowed our canoes up and down Old Cheney helping people trapped on Hunts Drive. Flooding along Salt Creek has been a long-term problem, which is why we have Wilderness Park as a watershed. I am open to exploring commonsense, cost-effective solutions moving forward that do not undermine personal property rights or create unreasonable, unjustified regulations passed on to citizens and businesses.

Sändra Washington

Sändra Washington

Age: 60

Lives near: 27th and South streets

Occupation: Councilperson

Political party: Democrat

Education: Bachelor and Master of Science, Ohio State University

Website: sandraforlincoln.com

Over 35 years I’ve worked in state, federal and local government, as well as voluntary service on nonprofit boards in a variety of leadership roles. In each of these capacities, I’ve learned to look at issues from multiple perspectives. I understand the importance of collaboration in resolving our greatest challenges. My training in natural resources, planning and environmental decision-making give me the skills to analyze impacts and benefits, and the experience to reach compromise and, ultimately, make sound, fair decisions.

What will you prioritize?

As your next councilperson, I’ll work with the mayor, neighborhoods and business leaders on smart and sustainable growth, public health and safety, and equity.

Who do you see as your core constituent and how will you engage with those you represent if elected?

My core constituents are the residents of Lincoln. On council, I’ve done my best to keep my ears open to everyone’s concerns and ideas, and I will continue to listen and work with everyone to find solutions that best fit our community. As we regain social gatherings, I will host town meetings in each of the districts, regularly visit with business and trade associations, and try to attend many of the neighborhood association meetings.

How do you think the city should address calls for reformed policing?

As a collective community, we first need to understand the size and context of the issue in Lincoln, and then craft solutions that best fit our city. We do much better in finding solutions when we work together, across neighborhoods and with a sense of shared responsibility. LPD, like other large employers, is challenged to recruit and retain a qualified and diverse workforce, and all of us need to find and fund better ways to address emergency mental health services.

Do you support issuing bonds to finance a new central library that would replace the Bennett Martin Library on the old Pershing Center block? Why or why not?

A new central library could be a centerpiece in the revitalization of Lincoln’s downtown, along with new housing, green spaces and art district. In collaboration with a sizeable private and philanthropic support, I could support the issuing of bonds for a new central library on the former Pershing block.

What policies or approaches should the city adopt to increase housing affordability?

Many of us can relate to the issue of housing affordability, regardless of where we live or how much we earn. We all want quality housing options we can afford. My current focus is on affordability at lower incomes, where we are not meeting community need. To do so, Lincoln will need private and public stakeholders working together, with a variety of financing tools, as well as review of regulatory timeframes, careful consideration of building codes and public infrastructure investments.

A petition drive in 2012 blocked implementation of the Fairness Ordinance, meant to stop discrimination against LGBTQ people in housing, employment and public accommodation. Should the City Council repeal the Fairness Ordinance or put it on the ballot for a citywide vote?

The Fairness Ordinance, blocked in 2012, has been, in part, superseded by the U.S. Supreme Court last year (Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia), when it ruled the 1964 Civil Rights Act extended to individuals who are discriminated against based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Because of that, we probably need to align our municipal code with that ruling.

Has the city done enough to fund street repairs? If not, what approach would you propose to get more road improvements done?

Many residents stress the importance of well-maintained streets. The Advisory Committee did a good job prioritizing arterial and neighborhood streets, but the need is greater than available funds. I appreciate the ingenuity of staff, borrowing against highway funds to get more work done, sooner rather than later. I’d like to maximize this strategy to the extent possible. If the public continues to prioritize streets, we’ll see that reflected in support for another quarter-cent sales tax when it expires in 2025.

Do you support the mayor’s Climate Action Plan? Why or why not?

I support the mayor’s Climate Action Plan because the strategies in the plan will make Lincoln stronger and more resilient in the face of climate change. The Climate Action Plan is about taking steps now and in the future to keep Lincoln safe, healthy, and prosperous — all while being good stewards to the planet.

With the city considering ways it can protect against future Salt Creek floods, what efforts would you support?

I support a mix of non-structural and structural actions that protect lives, reduce long-term risks, and keep neighborhood social bonds intact. Like we’ve done with Antelope Creek and are doing with Deadmans Run, the city and Lower Platte South NRD can cooperate on a review of best management practices to make Lincoln more flood-resilient. Ultimately, the right solution will be understood and supported by the people who are most likely to be impacted.

Eric Burling

https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/journalstar.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/bc/6bcde139-d362-5b96-9ca2-9679e665a770/60400c82874c7.image.jpg?crop=460%2C261%2C21%2C18

Age: 36

Lives near: South 33rd and Nebraska 2

Occupation: President and owner, AMVNX, which helps Vietnamese students come to the U.S. to attend parochial high school and college

Political party: Republican

Education: Bachelor of Science in computer science, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Website: burlingforlincoln.com

What sets you apart from the other candidates seeking this office?

I’m new to politics. I’m a programmer and with that comes an inherent ability to think logically. I’ll bring common sense and reason back to government. I own an international business; I make tough financial decisions. I own and maintain properties in Lincoln; I understand the value of hard work and perseverance. I teach programming, economics, English, math and physics. I have no big donors to please. I love to learn, and I make decisions after I understand the facts.

What will you prioritize?

Honesty, transparency, common sense, economic growth and fiscal responsibility. I’m a rational and reasonable person. I will lead honestly and openly. I will welcome all people of Lincoln to again participate in our local government. I won’t make decisions before understanding the facts. I will prioritize economic growth for our city through free enterprise policies because economic freedom leads to prosperity for the entire community. I will prioritize American values and equality of opportunity in Lincoln.

Who do you see as your core constituent and how will you engage with those you represent if elected?

My core constituency is all of Lincoln. I was born here and I’ve lived here my entire life. I love Lincoln and its people and I want what’s best for our city and our way of life. We all need love and support, especially in these difficult times. All our lives are precious and it’s important we remember that we’re all in this together. I vow to always approach every person and situation with care and respect.

How do you think the city should address calls for reformed policing?

The city should ignore those calls and leave that decision to the Lincoln Police Department. They know far more than we do about how to do their work. Police officers have a dangerous job, and that’s rarely taken into consideration when the media aims its outrage at police officers. Mistakes can happen when people are placed into life-threatening situations. I believe police officers deserve our respect and support for dedicating their lives to the safety and betterment of our community.

Do you support issuing bonds to finance a new central library that would replace the Bennett Martin Library on the old Pershing Center block? Why or why not?

I doubt anyone can give an honest answer without knowing the proposed cost of a new library. Look, libraries are great, but is there demand for a new one downtown? Love Library is downtown and open to the public. We have libraries all around Lincoln that already serve their neighborhoods. Will families drive downtown to spend the day in a central library? Isn’t that the sort of driving around our mayor is actively trying to end with her climate plan?

What policies or approaches should the city adopt to increase housing affordability?

Lincoln is very affordable and the free market keeps it that way. If we must do something, then we should lower property taxes. Less taxes paid by landlords translates into lower costs for them to rent their units, which leads to more affordable housing. The city has already allowed for (and even helped fund) the construction of many new apartment buildings, and this increase in supply will drive down the cost to rent multi-family homes and units in older complexes.

A petition drive in 2012 blocked implementation of the Fairness Ordinance, meant to stop discrimination against LGBTQ people in housing, employment and public accommodation. Should the City Council repeal the Fairness Ordinance or put it on the ballot for a citywide vote?

People are people. It doesn’t matter if you’re pink, orange, green or yellow. It doesn’t matter if you’re straight or gay or something else you want to be as long as you don’t infringe on the rights of others. Every person is protected equally by the Constitution of the United States so I see no reason for our city to add more protection for one subset of the population.

Has the city done enough to fund street repairs? If not, what approach would you propose to get more road improvements done?

It’s tough to answer yes to that question when I’ve blown a tire each of the last three years due to potholes. The potholes always seem to happen in the same spot every year, but 12 months later it’s hard to remember where all of them were. I understand it takes time for crews to repair these potholes after they’re reported, but perhaps we could put up a temporary marker in the parkway to caution drivers of an approaching pothole.

Do you support the mayor’s Climate Action Plan? Why or why not?

I think we can all agree that clean air is great. However, I don’t believe the government should regulate away an individual’s freedom to choose. The plan creates too many new rules and adds unnecessary costs to the citizens of Lincoln. Much of the plan doesn’t make economic sense. Though I do support some initiatives, I don’t support the plan in its current state. Lincoln is not a test bed for electric buses, Green New Deals and the mayor’s fantasies.

With the city considering ways it can protect against future Salt Creek floods, what efforts would you support?

Floods have an impact on our entire city, so I’ll support economically responsible and federally funded efforts to protect the city against floods. I will not support unlimited spending to fix a problem already priced into those properties. Buying or building homes in the flood plain involves risk. The land is worth less and the market value is lower because of the risk of flooding. Property owners in these areas should have flood insurance and consider flood-proofing their homes.

Tom Beckius

Tom Beckius

Age: 41

Lives near: South 27th and Rokeby Road

Occupation: Owner, Nebraska Brokerage

Political party: Democrat

Education: Bachelor of Arts in English, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Website: tomforlincoln.com

What sets you apart from the other candidates seeking this office?

I am a multi-faceted candidate with vast experience in business, government and nonprofit work who understands how various entities interact with each other and can be leveraged to create opportunity. I understand the role of the City Council is to craft, introduce, build consensus for and pass legislation to improve our community. I will be a proactive legislator working with Lincoln residents every day to keep Lincoln strong, safe and successful.

What will you prioritize?

I will prioritize public safety and housing affordability. The hiring of Lincoln’s new police and fire chiefs is critically important in maintaining our safety and continuing the good work done by our first responders. Lincoln’s housing affordability is a key component in retaining and attracting residents. As home prices increase, we must do what we can to work with builders to encourage new supply in the market at all price points.

Who do you see as your core constituent and how will you engage with those you represent if elected?

The residents of Lincoln are my core constituents. Community engagement is an intentional process of providing an outlet for citizens to express their views on the issues important to them, listening to stakeholders carefully and encouraging the exchange of ideas in a civil manner. Through this process, it is key to identify shared goals amongst parties, evaluate how those goals relate to the vision of the city leaders and highlight opportunities for collaboration and beneficial outcomes.

How do you think the city should address calls for reformed policing?

I support the Lincoln Police Department and the men and women who keep Lincoln safe. I also support community-based programs that aid those needing social services, mental health assistance, addiction recovery and other resources. Decreasing funding for the Lincoln Police Department is not the answer. Our community works best when we work together and we need to commit funds to additional community partners to further address our public safety needs.

Do you support issuing bonds to finance a new central library that would replace the Bennett Martin Library on the old Pershing Center block? Why or why not?

Lincoln voters will decide this issue; however, I support a new central library. Bennett Martin Public Library is no longer representative of our city and has served its purpose well for over 60 years. While the role of the library has changed given new technology, its primary functions of providing access to information and educational opportunities for our children remain vital.

What policies or approaches should the city adopt to increase housing affordability?

Housing affordability is a key component in keeping Lincoln successful and attractive. I support a comprehensive review of zoning codes in order to lower housing costs. We need to investigate minimum lot sizes, widths and setback requirements, higher density and building heights for apartments in new growth areas, reduction or elimination of parking requirements and new density bonus proposals for alternative housing types.

A petition drive in 2012 blocked implementation of the Fairness Ordinance, meant to stop discrimination against LGBTQ people in housing, employment and public accommodation. Should the City Council repeal the Fairness Ordinance or put it on the ballot for a citywide vote?

I support the Fairness Ordinance as I agree with the Lincoln, Omaha and Nebraska Chambers of Commerce that LGBTQ inclusivity is important for growing our economy. The Bostock v. Clayton County decision by the U.S. Supreme Court recently addressed some of the issues at hand. We must continue to be thoughtful as to how to proceed with the Fairness Ordinance as misinformation is often used to defeat such measures and currently local advocacy efforts have focused on state legislation.

Has the city done enough to fund street repairs? If not, what approach would you propose to get more road improvements done?

While Lincoln voters approved the quarter-cent sales tax to finance additional street infrastructure, there are still opportunities to improve street funding. I support using a portion of the new gambling revenue for dedicated street work when we are fully recovered from the financial impacts of the pandemic. In new growth areas, alternative road standards and designs could lower costs, help keep streets up to pace with the needs of our expanding housing market and allow for more road improvements.

Do you support the mayor’s Climate Action Plan? Why or why not?

I voted to support the Climate Action Plan because increased carbon dioxide concentrations are harmful. I do have affordability concerns regarding implementing components of the plan; however, I believe over the implementation cycle costs will be reduced as innovation grows and markets expand. The goal of reducing emissions 80% by 2050 and increasing resiliency to the impacts of climate change are a step in the right direction for Lincoln.

With the city considering ways it can protect against future Salt Creek floods, what efforts would you support?

The threat to lives and property near Salt Creek is a serious concern. I support both structural floodplain management measures such as current levee maintenance and increased dam construction as well as nonstructural measures such as open space preservation and incentives for cluster subdivisions. It is critically important to note Lincoln will need strong community partners and assistance to tackle this issue, especially with the Lower Platte South NRD, FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Roy A. Christensen

Roy Christensen

Age: 61

Lives near: South 84th and A streets

Occupation: Audiologist

Political party: Republican

Education: Bachelor of Science in speech pathology and audiology, Northern Arizona University, and Master of Science in audiology, Idaho State University

Website: royforlincoln.com

What sets you apart from the other candidates seeking this office?

Experience. My experience as a small business owner responsible for customer care, marketing and meeting a payroll as well as my time in the U.S. Army has exposed me to organizations of all sizes. I understand how the decisions we make at city hall impact the individuals, families, businesses, churches and nonprofits that call Lincoln home. As the longest-serving member of the council, I bring background on issues that provides an important perspective for our growing and changing city.

What will you prioritize?

Public safety is the top priority for me and for our community. We must add more police, do a better job of retaining our current police, add firefighters and replace worn out fire equipment including a worn-out fire station. For eight years, I have supported cutting the property tax rate and holding down city spending. In addition, I support investing in roads and critical infrastructure to meet the city’s needs today and tomorrow.

Who do you see as your core constituent and how will you engage with those you represent if elected?

As an at-large city councilman, every legal resident of Lincoln is a core constituent. Allowing for extensive public comment, answering public questions and ensuring transparency so that the City Council can best represent the community as a whole, is part of being a councilmember. If re-elected, I will continue to strive for open, honest and fair public debate at City Council meetings so that we can reach a consensus on how to best move Lincoln forward.

How do you think the city should address calls for reformed policing?

Lincoln police officers risk their lives every day in service of our community. The Lincoln Police Department currently stands at approximately half the national average for police officers per 1,000 residents. Last year the department lost more officers to retirement and other communities than we added. The City Council must support the officers that keep our city safe, through increased funding for additional officers, adequate equipment and training, and by not adopting misguided reforms or a defund agenda.

Do you support issuing bonds to finance a new central library that would replace the Bennett Martin Library on the old Pershing Center block? Why or why not?

The city should have voters decide on a bond to replace the Bennett Martin Library with a new central library on the old Pershing Center block. For large bond projects, such as replacement of our central library, the City Council has an obligation to listen to the will of the people they represent. The most effective way to do this is through a public vote.

What policies or approaches should the city adopt to increase housing affordability?

Housing development and affordability are important economic drivers. The city must explore opportunities to work with developers to reduce land costs, lower housing infrastructure costs and make sure the city is a partner and not an impediment to housing development. City government must also work to ensure building codes, fees and approvals do not needlessly increase costs that are inevitability passed on to homebuyers and renters.

A petition drive in 2012 blocked implementation of the Fairness Ordinance, meant to stop discrimination against LGBTQ people in housing, employment and public accommodation. Should the City Council repeal the Fairness Ordinance or put it on the ballot for a citywide vote?

In order for the Fairness Ordinance to be put on the ballot for a citywide vote, the ordinance must first be repealed. The ordinance should be repealed and then placed on the ballot so that the voice of the people can be heard on this important issue.

Has the city done enough to fund street repairs? If not, what approach would you propose to get more road improvements done?

Over $10 million in taxpayer funds is sitting idle in an account designated for the 14th and Old Cheney elevated roundabout. That project was canceled because bids exceeded the project’s estimated cost. The city should act now to use that $10 million to accelerate work on the most urgent road projects in our city. This would provide an immediate boost in roads spending and would move every project closer to being addressed.

Do you support the mayor’s Climate Action Plan? Why or why not?

No. I have supported environmentally conscious efforts, including a solar project, implementation of a new financing mechanism to reward investment in energy efficiency, and voting for the Lincoln Environmental Action Plan. Planning for the future and being good stewards of our environment is important. However, the mayor’s Climate Action Plan does too much too quickly and risks significant increases in energy costs for small businesses and low-income families and seniors who can least afford it. We can do better.

With the city considering ways it can protect against future Salt Creek floods, what efforts would you support?

There is a large public infrastructure project on the horizon to address water detention, retention and diversion on all tributaries of Salt Creek, which would reduce the risk of future flooding for existing homes and future developments. A project like this could have many benefits in the long term. However, extensive public input and a cost-benefit analysis of all alternatives is needed before the city makes any final decisions on a project of this scale.

Bennie Shobe

Bennie Shobe

Age: 60

Lives near: South 17th and A streets

Occupation: Program analyst in unemployment insurance tax for State of Nebraska

Political party: Democrat

Education: Bachelor’s degree in general studies; Master of Arts, Western Kentucky University

Website: bennieforLNK.com

What sets you apart from the other candidates seeking this office?

What sets me apart is my ability to empathize with traditionally marginalized populations. I have a unique ability to build relationships with individuals and organizations where relationships have historically been difficult to develop or are nonexistent. I am able to connect people, bridge divides and find compromise and consensus.

What will you prioritize?

I will prioritize improving housing options for Lincolnites. I want to maintain a safe and inclusive community that reflects the priorities of all residents. I will work to repair existing infrastructure and am excited to plan for new growth as the city emerges from the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

Who do you see as your core constituent and how will you engage with those you represent if elected?

Working families are my core constituents. When it’s safe, I will return to my pre-pandemic practice of attending neighborhood organization meetings, community festivals and other events where residents of our city gather. I want to meet people where they are and help bring them into the conversation about how to move Lincoln forward.

How do you think the city should address calls for reformed policing?

I believe there are opportunities for improvement in how the Lincoln Police Department serves our community. Those improvements will come from frank conversation with the public about LPD’s policies, procedures and historical activities as well as the community’s expectations for its police department. Honest conversations about perceptions of fairness and justice, from the perspective of all concerned participants, will be needed. Success will require high levels of empathy from all parties.

Do you support issuing bonds to finance a new central library that would replace the Bennett Martin Library on the old Pershing Center block? Why or why not?

Yes, I do. The cost of maintaining or improving the Bennett Martin location isn’t sustainable. The role of libraries has changed over the years — they’ve proven to be a vital source of community and will continue to be so in the future. Building a new central library will allow the city to design for the next generation of libraries. It also will provide an opportunity to repurpose the Pershing block with options for more housing, shopping and recreation.

What policies or approaches should the city adopt to increase housing affordability?

With the recently approved affordable housing plan, I expect more conversations about lot sizes, unit density, alternative financing methods and more. As our community recovers from the effects of the pandemic — and with completion of the South Beltway — I anticipate a development boom. I’m hopeful that this will provide a chance to stabilize prices and slow rising housing costs for working families until the market brings wages in line with those costs.

A petition drive in 2012 blocked implementation of the Fairness Ordinance, meant to stop discrimination against LGBTQ people in housing, employment and public accommodation. Should the City Council repeal the Fairness Ordinance or put it on the ballot for a citywide vote?

I am a firm believer in doing everything we can as a city to protect the rights of our LGBTQ+ neighbors, family and friends. The June 2020 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on employment discrimination made portions of the ordinance obsolete. I would like to discuss the merits of repealing the ordinance and revising the existing city code to reflect the Supreme Court ruling.

Has the city done enough to fund street repairs? If not, what approach would you propose to get more road improvements done?

No, but we have done a lot with the funding available. Street infrastructure is under constant pressure. Studies done prior to the sales tax increase vote suggest the revenue targets approved were less than half the amount needed to make significant headway on the existing repair backlog. With the help of that sales tax money, progress has been made — albeit slowly. I hope residents will opt to continue the sales tax after its scheduled sunset date.

Do you support the mayor’s Climate Action Plan? Why or why not?

On the whole, I support the Climate Action Plan. Climate change is real and we are seeing increases in extreme weather events as the planet attempts to regulate its temperature. I do, however, have some concerns about the currently published timeline for reducing the community’s carbon footprint. It’s a plan and, like many other city planning documents, it can be modified. I believe that as new data is published and technology improves, we may see the need for modifications.

With the city considering ways it can protect against future Salt Creek floods, what efforts would you support?

I am still reviewing the 165-page Salt Creek Floodplain Resiliency Study Report. I honestly cannot say which efforts I favor or support.

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