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Douglas County Commissioner - District 7

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    Mike Friend
    (R)

  • Candidate picture

    Jo Giles
    (D)

Biographical Information

What element of the county’s government is most effective, and why?

What are some ways to provide property tax relief? Are there any services you think should be cut, and if so, why?

What do you see as the three most compelling problems facing your office?

What should the county do to address climate change issues?

Current Public Office, dates held none
Past Public Office, dates held Nebraska Legislature, District 10 2003 through 2009
Education Creighton University, BA, Mass Communications
The administrative function in all areas. County administration is a ministerial responsibility, which requires great attention to detail and sound fiduciary responsibility. Efficient appropriation of funding with the taxpayer in mind is paramount.
Internal auditing of processes and programs are important. Possible redundancy in law enforcement services could be addressed, as well as redundancy in other services between the city and county governments. Interlocal agreements are also a good way to potentially relieve certain redundancies.
Fiduciary/financial responsibility The need for property tax relief Understanding and implementing appropriate taxing authority (utilizing a vote of the people is one example)
Always implement best practices to seriously deal with our responsibility to be a good steward of the environment.
Current Public Office, dates held None
Past Public Office, dates held None
Education B.A., Washington University in St. Louis, Psychology & African American Studies, 1995; M.A., University of Missouri-Columbia, Journalism, 1998; Certificate of Public Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center, 2016
Military experience None
Volunteer experience Board Member, Omaha Public Library Foundation, 2016-present; Board Member, Fontenelle Forest, 2019-present; Board Member, InCOMMON Community Development, 2013-2017; Conceive Nebraska, founding board member, 2012-2015; Church hosting team volunteer
As a candidate with public health training, I think the Douglas County Health Department is demonstrating exceptional and thoughtful leadership during our COVID-19 pandemic. Public health is about prevention and the health department, in partnership with the Emergency Management Department, quickly created a dashboard to report cases and provide data-driven, academic best practices to test, track and slow community spread.
While structural solutions to property tax relief are the responsibility of state government, I believe the county board should examine ways to implement an annual percentage cap on property tax valuations. This would prevent the large increases property owners face each year. Of course, we must balance property tax relief and efficient use of taxpayer dollars for county services.
1) The budget, due to economic challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We must look for cost-cutting solutions while meeting community needs. 2) Mental health was a huge need pre-pandemic and is exacerbated now. It also must be addressed in our prison system where mental health challenges often contribute to overcrowding in the facility. 3) Juvenile justice reform should focus on prevention and trauma-informed programming to change the trajectory of the lives of youth.
The County should implement best practices for environmental sustainability in all building renovations and new facilities. It also should look for opportunities to use renewable energy and reducing the carbon footprint of buildings and vehicles. As a member of the Metropolitan Area Planning Agency (MAPA), the County should push for a regional and efficient transit system.