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VOTE411 Voter Guide

City of Hastings, City Council, Ward 3

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    Paul C Hamelink

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    Joy Huffaker

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    Willis Hunt

Biographical Information

If elected, what are your priorities for economic development in your city/town/village?

If elected, what would be your top priorities in an extreme weather event?

If elected, what would you consider your top three priorities? Please detail.

What is the biggest challenge in your community and how would you address it?

Occupation Business Owner, Instructor - The National Center for Housing Management.
Education BA – Macalester College MM – Northwestern U PhD studies (ABD) – U of South Florida Six Sigma Green Belt – Villanova U Graduate studies – Bethel Sem. Numerous certifications from National Cen. for Housing Management
Current Public Office, dates held Hastings City Council 2016 – Present Hastings City Council President 2018 – Present Nebraska Commission on Housing & Homelessness 2014- Present
Past Public Office, dates held Hastings City Planning Commission 2012-2016
Military experience None
Volunteer experience Numerous boards including Community Theater, Chamber of Commerce (Past Chair), Police Retirement, Board of Health, Community Redevelopment Auth., Noon Rotary (Past Chair) Member Cham. of Commerce, Downtown Center Association, St Mark’s Pro-Cathedral
Address PO Box 492 Hastings, NE 68902
Marital Status Married, 4 Children, 3 Grandchildren
Considerable development has been a direct result of economic assistance such as TIF funds, façade grants, LIHTC funds and other incentives supported through the efforts of HEDC, the CRA and BID. Hastings should continue to pursue grant funding, such as CBDG funds, to continue to attract private investment. These funds have been key to projects like the Brewery Lofts and North Park Commons. New projects add to our economic base and address important needs such as housing.

The city must address infrastructure issues as we continue to grow. The 42nd St. improvement and Hwy 6 projects are good examples of addressing needs in growing areas. Updating our aging systems must become a priority before it becomes an emergency.

Hastings Utilities is a key component for future growth. HU is successfully addressing the nitrate problem assuring a good water supply. The new solar farm moved us toward the future with clean energy and keeps us competitive with other communities.
First, ensure public safety. Mobilize staff to clear roads for first responders, repair/restore utility services and activate emergency plans and personnel. The COVID-19 crisis has helped refine our emergency procedures.

Clear lines of communication must be established. Emergencies require cooperation between numerous city, county, state and sometime federal agencies. Hastings is currently upgrading IT functions so key staff can perform essential job functions and communicate outside of their workspace.

The public must be kept informed.The recent addition of a Public Information Director has proven to be an invaluable addition during the Corona Virus outbreak. This will also position Hastings to utilize communication paths such as social media.

Relief efforts must be launched, especially for our vulnerable populations. The Red Cross, Salvation Army, along with other community resources must be enlisted to assist in providing shelter, food and basic needs to those most effected.
1. Economic Development, Hastings needs to enable, not inhibit, private investment in our community. A strong business community will make for a strong Hastings. The Council must continue to support the efforts of HEDC, CRA and the BID as well as our existing manufacturers, retailers, businesses large and small, non-profits and schools.

2. Keep Hastings Affordable. Hastings enjoys some of the lowest utility rates in Nebraska. Those rates must stay low. We must also maintain Hastings strong financial position by not encumbering taxpayers with further city debt, looking for efficiencies and avoid unnecessary spending of tax dollars. Economic development will increase out tax base and help keep taxes in check.

3. Make Hastings User Friendly. Working with the city should be easy and approachable. Our quality of life will thrive as we invest in our parks & rec, expand our trails and increase accessibility/walkability. City government needs to be quick to serve and slow to restrict.
Hastings needs to be prepared to move into a rapidly changing future. We face a number of issues such as: workforce shortages, lack of quality affordable housing, the need for additional well-paying jobs, affordable daycare and the loss of our young people.

In early 2020 I began to identify and address these and other future concerns by gathering community leaders with the goal of crafting an achievable plan for the future of our city. In February I invited Mike Flood, former Speaker of the NE Legislature, to present at the annual meeting of the Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce. His work in NE Nebraska brought us examples of how communities like Hastings can successfully address future concerns. He was very well received. While this group in currently on hold due to the COVID-19 restrictions, we will reconvene as soon as possible. I expect this group will be able to set concrete goals which will directly address the needs of our community in the years to come.
Occupation I was an RN for 17 years then in 2015 my husband, Andy, and I purchased Eldon's Automotive Repair.
Education I have by BSN.
Current Public Office, dates held None at this time
Past Public Office, dates held None
Military experience None
Address 1436 MacArthur Road Hastings, NE 68901
Marital Status Married
Age 42
I would like to see the City of Hastings grow from within. If the small business's within our community grow they will have more job openings thus attracting more individuals and or families to our community. Hastings is already doing a great job of adding on and growing towards the north, I would like to also see development on all sides of the city. Hastings has a lot of small communities that come here for shopping, vehicle repair, ect and we want to continue to grow and provide more choices.
I would like to see procedures in place so if or when there are extreme weather events that all departments know their part and exactly what to do and when. Also these procedures need to be available for the public to access so the citizens know what to expect during those times.
1. Community growth, as I touched on above I believe that Hastings is a great community and that if we support our local businesses and they are able to grow they will attract individuals and their families to our community for job opportunities. 2. Open communication and the concerns of the citizens being heard. This is a great community because of all the citizens that live here. The city council members are the voice for the citizens and the majority of the citizens want their concerns or ideas validated. The more open communication is between the council and the citizens the less misunderstanding there will be. 3. Positive Culture change. We have a lot of great people working for the City as well as some individuals that have recently started and changes are being made and new ideas and ways of doing things are happening. We want to attract great individuals and families to our community, this will happen as we are seen as a welcoming community with positive City employees.
I feel that there is a lot of negativity regarding the growth of our community. One of the biggest problems in lack of knowledge by the citizens as to why things are done the way they are. More public knowledge and ease of access to obtain this information would help with a lot of misconceptions.
Occupation Business owner/Engineer
Education : B.S. Kearney State (UNK) Masters Degree Program Nebraska Licensed Civil Engineer
Current Public Office, dates held Hastings Planning Commission September 2018 – April 2020
Past Public Office, dates held Hastings City Engineer 1970 – 1977 Hastings City Council 1980 – 1984 Hastings Board of Public Works 2006 – 2018
Military experience : U.S. Army – Veteran
Volunteer experience 4-H Youth Leader 1985 – 2014 Board Member of Adams County Agricultural Society 1985 – 1994 Rodeo Volunteer/Fair Volunteer 1995-2019 Hastings Chamber of Commerce 1985 – 2020
Address 616 Madden Road Hastings, NE 68901
Marital Status Widower
Age 82
My priorities for economic development in Hastings is to support the continuation of the activities of the Economic Development Corporation as I did while a member of the Hastings Board of Public Works. One of the projects I worked on included the expansion of Thermo-King through a grant. This grant provided high paying jobs for Hastings and the surrounding area.
In the event of an extreme weather emergency, one of the top priorities for the city is the planning and preparation required before this weather event occurs. The establishment of a command center, under the direction of the Mayor, along with the support of all City Departments, and with other Government agencies, including the County Emergency Management and the State and Federal governments should have a plan in place. This combined group would establish what would be the top priority to the weather event negate. As a councilman from the Third Ward, I would offer my services, if needed, in support of whatever priority or action this group would decide to take on.
One of the top priorities that became apparent to the citizens of the Third Ward is the lack of open discussion or decision which affect major changes in the transportation system of the City of Hastings. A street was closed and direct access to some businesses was greatly affected, causing them to close. This action was taken with no public hearing on this matter. Only after a petition was circulated, which had more than twenty-seven hundred signatures, did the City Council take action to stop the process of removal of an elevated railroad crossing that had been utilized by the traveling public for more than eight decades. A study to determine the cost of repairs has now been undertaken. This was done only after the petition was filed. It took a major public response to bring this about. As elected officials, you openly represent the public in all matters. This needs to be a high priority. Petitioning the government to respond should be the publics last resort
The biggest and greatest challenge we face today is the Covid-19. This is a challenge to our community and to the world! How will local governments survive the large economic loss and continue to provide service to its citizens. It will take strong, dedicated, knowledgeable public servants willing to make the hard decisions and be ready to detail their actions to the citizens they represent. There will be some hard decisions that will need to be taken and I stand ready to do that. I believe my public service in difficult economic times has prepared me for the very decisions which are ahead for all public officials.