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Omaha City Council, District 7

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    Sara Kohen

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    Aimee Melton

Biographical Information

What examples of police reform do you support?

In what specific ways will you increase the safety and availability of affordable housing in your community?

Is the new ORBT bus system working as well as expected? If not, what improvements need to be made?

Education J.D., with highest honors, University of Nebraska College of Law; B.A., summa cum laude, James Madison University (Political Science and Spanish)
Volunteer experience -Active member of Beth El Synagogue and Beth Israel Synagogue -Involved in projects of the Jewish Federation of Omaha -Helped welcome a refugee family resettling in Omaha -Volunteer Spanish interpreter at Blue Ridge Legal Services in college
I think we should all work together to make sure that our community is a safe place for everyone. This is a bigger issue than can be addressed fully in a quick answer, but I think that we need to start from a place of listening and then look at the data about what we can do to improve outcomes for everyone.

Police officers often face dangerous situations that change rapidly. It’s a hard job. We need to look at how we can invest in our communities—building people up and, hopefully, decreasing the need for police involvement in the first place—and looking at how we can give police officers the training and resources they need to do their jobs effectively.

This is where I come back to following the data. Let's expand upon things that are working well—such as the mental health co-responder program—and if something isn't working as well, think creatively about how to improve.
The safety and availability of affordable housing in our community is a challenge that deeply affects individuals and families, but also has a broader societal impact. Working to ensure that Housing Enforcement has sufficient resources to address code violations is key to improving safe housing conditions. City government also should work with community partners to explore incentives and opportunities for partnering to increase the availability of affordable housing.
ORBT is an exciting development, though it will be hard to assess it fully until the pandemic abates. Numbers from January indicate that twice as many people are riding on ORBT as the previous bus route, despite the overall fall in bus ridership during the pandemic as people seek to avoid enclosed spaces. It's a promising move toward more modern, sustainable, and accessible transportation. I am interested in learning about potential benefits of expanding ORBT routes.
Current Public Office, dates held Omaha City Council District 7 2013 to present
Education B.S. Political Science University of Nebraska J.D. Creighton University School of Law
Volunteer experience Essential Pregnancy Service Numerous Political candidates St. Robert Bellarmine Volunteer Lawyers Project Christ Child Salvation Army Nebraska Mock Trial Big Brothers Big Sisters Domestic Violence Council DCRP
Police officers should be afforded additional training, resources and equipment to enable each officer to provide the highest level of safety for all citizens of Omaha. We need to increase the number of mental health co-responders that currently assist officers and invest in mental health training and mental health co-responders for other first responders. Community policing requires a diverse police force, we must focus on recruitment to ensure that our police department reflects the diversity of our community.
Adding additional housing inspectors and providing them with the resources to increase enforcement of housing codes will ensure residents have a safe environment. Expand partnerships with non-profit organizations to educate, inform, report violations, and protect vulnerable persons/families living in substandard residences. We also need to increase the availability of safe affordable housing by expanding tax incentives that prioritize affordable housing.
The ORBT bus system was launched a few months ago. It was half funded by a TIGER grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the remaining funds came from private philanthropy, non-profit organizations and in-kind contributions by the city. The rapid transit system is expected to efficiently connect people to jobs, residences and entertainment. However, the system will need to expand north to south in order to provide transportation to all who need to utilize it.