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Omaha City Council, District 1

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Biographical Information

What are the top three issues you feel must be addressed in the next four years and how will you do so?

What steps should the City of Omaha take to expand economic growth?

Are there services or operations that you think the City and County should consider merging and why?

What are Omaha’s most pressing transportation needs? If elected, how would you address those needs? (Online only)

What, if any, changes would you like to see to the current waste collection system? (Online only)

Address 660 Parkwood Lane Omaha, Nebraska 68132
Current Public Office, dates held Omaha City Council, 2009-Present City Council President, 2013-2015
Past Public Office, dates held Omaha Planning Board, 2005-2009
Education B.A. Connecticut College Master of Public Administration, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Volunteer experience Board of Directors - State Chamber of Commerce, State Trauma Board, NE Early Childhood Collaborative, Omaha Children's Museum, College World Series, Inc, Omaha By Design, Benson-Ames Alliance, Ak-Sar-Ben Future Trust
My top priority has always been keeping our neighborhoods safe and strong. I have done so by focusing on public safety improvements such as adding police officers and passing a property crime ordinance to deter burglaries and theft; focusing on the city's finances such as balancing our budgets, pressing for pension reform and cutting property taxes; and focusing on community development such as the renovation of the Dundee, Benson and Florence Business Districts. In addition to these top three issues, I think we must focus on addressing our street maintenance and transportation needs, the demolition of condemned properties, and the poverty and economic disparities that exist in our community over the next four years.
The City of Omaha should continue its collaborative approach with the Omaha Chamber of Commerce to retain and attract new business to our city in an aggressive manner. We should also work with the development community to encourage projects that enhance our built environment and that are attractive to young professionals so we can recruit the workforce we need to be successful in the future. At the neighborhood level, I'd like to see the public-private model we created in the Dundee, Benson, and Florence Business Districts continue throughout the city in areas such as Blackstone, Old Millard, Elkhorn, and Vinton. If we are to achieve our true economic potential, however, we must also address our economic disparities.
I am a proponent of city-county merger and have been directly involved in the merging of services in the areas of convention and tourism, information technology, and purchasing. I have also been a proponent of full city-county merger given the city's planning jurisdiction and population now cover a large percentage of Douglas County. In absence of full scale merger, however, I favor continued progress on the functional mergers that have the potential to improve service to the citizens and save taxpayer resources such as a joint city-county crime lab.

Studies indicate the City of Omaha is $30 million/year behind in maintaining its current street infrastructure and that it would take approx. $300 million to address the unimproved streets that exist throughout our community. Although we have increased funding to major and residential street resurfacing, I also favor increasing annual capital improvement budgets, using all street and highway funds for this purpose, and am willing to pursue an infrastructure bank. And it is important for Omaha to pursue alternative modes of transportation such as the bus rapid transit system, the streetcar project, and the expansion of pedestrian and bike trails throughout the community. Successful cities provide a multitude of transportation options.
I think it's important to consider enhancements to our waste collection system that modernize our service and make solid waste collection more efficient and dependable. I am concerned, however, that we no longer have separate collection of yard waste and that our composting program (OmaGro) may be coming to an end. I also believe we can do a much better job in our recycling efforts and favor changes to our system that would encourage higher rates of recycling as well as the expansion of that service. The environmental aspects of waste collection must be a higher priority in the next bidding of our waste collection services. Many other cities have taken this approach and are implementing it successfully.
Address 1102 Dillon Dr.
Education Omaha Central High School University of Nebraska-Omaha
1. High property taxes are literally taxing people out of their homes. If elected, I will work to replace the city property taxes with income and excise taxes, lowering the cost of living for the people of Omaha. 2. Last year, violent crime increased by 2%. I will work to partner the city with school districts and community organizations to keep kids off of the streets and reduce the systemic poverty that leads to criminal behavior. 3. Omaha has no laws restricting the amount of money that candidates for local office can accept from individual donors, leaving us vulnerable to having our democratic institutions suppressed by profit-motivated political machines. I will place a cap on campaign contributions in local elections.
We need to be more proactive about attracting businesses and young people to our city. Many people of my generation think that Omaha is too boring, which causes them to move elsewhere, which in turn causes businesses to avoid Omaha because there aren't enough young, educated people in the labor market. I will create a partnership between the city government, local businesses, and community organizations to hold Omaha career fairs at colleges and universities around the Midwest. Graduating college seniors need jobs, and local businesses need talent. This effort will grow our economic base, diversify our economy, and create more service jobs for non-college graduates.
There is definitely an unnecessary level of overlap between many city and county services, but I will not commit to merging any city and county services until I have access to cost-benefit analyses to determine whether such proposals are prudent. Policy proposals ought to be based on reliable data, and at this time I do not have the necessary information to support or oppose the prospect of merging any particular county and city operations.
Omaha's transportation problems are rooted in a simple fact: our city's streets are too small to support the current level of traffic, especially during rush hour. Unfortunately, there is no simple solution to this problem. The best approach is a combination of expanding access to public transportation while widening the roads in areas where it is possible to do so with minimal use of eminent domain. The Midtown 2050 streetcar plan is a good start, but I think it's important that all parts of Omaha have access to public transportation. I envision a future where high-speed buses and streetcars link the entire city together, giving people the freedom to travel anywhere in Omaha without using a personal vehicle.
In order to make sure that waste is collected on time, we should alter our contracts with waste collection services to be performance based. This will give companies like Deffenbaugh an incentive to collect the trash on time at no additional cost to taxpayers.

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