Omaha Board of Realtors questionnaire
Omaha Board of Realtors questionnaire, January 2012
1) Are You Acquainted with any Realtors in your District?
- I know many realtors in my district. Some of them are Henry Kammandel, Mark Renner, Sandy Dodge, Nate Dodge, PJ Morgan, Walt Peffer.
2) Incumbent – What Would You Consider Your Most Significant Achievements While Holding This Office?
- Coming into the Unicameral for the first time in 1986, Nebraska was losing jobs, employers, and people to other states. Faced with this predicament, my colleagues and I responded to their needs and the needs of taxpayers by cosponsoring LB775. This legislation has been a factor in the creation of jobs, which has helped Nebraska achieve the second lowest unemployment rates in the country at 3.7%.
- More recently, I am extremely proud of my work as the Chair of the Judiciary Committee as it relates to finding solutions to reform Nebraska’s Juvenile Justice system. Currently, we have a deplorable system that is broken. Our kids are getting worse instead of better. I have the experience of working with the challenges of inner-city schools, keeping kids in school and working with key stakeholders to help make our schools breeding grounds for education and innovation.
3) Non-Incumbent – If Elected What Would Be Your Major Objectives?
- As mayor, I will address the toughest issues with collaboration and transparency. My career in serving as a state senator and chairman of the judiciary committee, small business owner and as an attorney has taught me solutions do not come from conflict, but from working together. As your mayor, I will: 1) implement comprehensive prevention crime strategies to make our streets safer. 2) Push for an Omaha career academy to train our youth for 21st century jobs. 3) Work closely with Douglas County, the City Council and the Unicameral to consolidate governmental services and control spending. 4) Work with the community and the legislature to address problems of mental health, homelessness and youth violence while working to increase safety in our schools and community. 5) Convene experts to develop an effective affordable housing plan. 6) Promote business vitality and jobs through public-private collaborations, long range planning and streamlining the permitting process.
4) If Elected, What Programs Would You Recommend to Increase Efficiency and Reduce Costs And/Or Taxes?
- First, I have core belief that city government can and should operate more efficiently. Public officials must always strive to spend taxpayers’ dollars efficiently. With that in mind, as a senator, I supported the largest tax cut in the state’s history in 2007. In 2009, I supported the largest spending reduction in the state’s history, cutting over $1 billion from the state’s budget. Yes, spending reductions are hard to accept and implement, but through collaboration and transparency we can achieve them.
- In terms of tax-savings legislation, Governor Dave Heineman asked me to co-sponsor legislation that will help Nebraskans keep more of their hard-earned money by eliminating individual and corporate income tax. LB 775 was groundbreaking legislation that established a tax-friendly platform to keep corporations from moving out of our state. 25 years later we are poised to provide tax relief to families and launch Nebraska into one of the top states to do business.
- As Omaha’s next mayor, a top priority will be to address duplication of services with Douglas County. This process can be achieved without sacrificing the quality of services. For example, services within the city and Douglas County crime labs and prosecutorial offices are often analogous. Merging the city and county crime labs will not only help save the city and prosecutorial offices money, but it would enhance public safety.
5) Please Indicate the Most Important Issues You Feel is Pertinent to Discuss During This Interview.
- Leadership: Throughout my career I have continually found that the act of true leadership is when one accepts to implement good ideas even if it may be against one’s political preference. I will restore the Office of Mayor by demonstrating a willingness to listen and support the leadership and work of those tasked with making our city better.
- Omaha’s relationship with state government: Omaha’s ability to effectively work within the state’s system is becoming increasingly important in the areas of education and economic development, to name a couple. Through my time as a state senator, I have a broad and deep understanding of state government. I believe the Mayor of Omaha has to be able to be effective in working with the state in order for Omaha to get its fair share of support.
- Public-Private partnerships: As the next mayor of Omaha, I will draw on my experiences as the Executive Director of the Omaha Housing Authority (OHA) to help develop affordable housing options for our communities. I will get this done by what we did at OHA, through public-private partnerships.
- Education: If Omaha is going to sustain its current quality of life and level of prosperity, our community must do a better job educating our youth, particularly in our inner-city. I have a broad and deep knowledge and understanding of the education challenges and the systems in place at the state and local level to solve or perpetuate the problem because of my experience serving on the state’s education committee.
6) Please Indicate Any Other Issues That You Feel Are Pertinent to Discuss During This Interview.
- I am committed to figuring out innovative ways to reform Nebraska’s juvenile justice system. Too many kids slip through the cracks of the system without receiving necessary services for mental health issues. We need to focus on early intervention with kids that exhibit mental health problems in order to get them help as early as possible so that they can become productive citizens later in life. Nebraska only has 33 child psychiatrists. The mayor has a responsibility to bring people together on mental health issues.
- I am interested in the concept called City Hall To Go. City Hall To Go is the idea of taking an old taco kind of truck and driving around town allowing people to make their permit applications, pay their traffic tickets, pay their property taxes, and more. This concept is going on in Boston right now. I would like to explore this idea for Omaha because I think it would provide a wonderful opportunity for the City of Omaha’s government to become more customer-friendly as people would be able to deal with their government in their own neighborhoods.
7) Briefly Describe Your Campaign Plan and Objectives.
- I plan to stress the positives that Omaha has to offer because Omaha is a great community.
- Like many communities Omaha certainly has it challenges as well. However, out of those same challenges there will be opportunities for us to come together and find solutions. Working together produces positive results. I pledge to work with everyone because that is how government should operate. This is exactly how I have been able to accomplish all that I have as a Nebraska State Senator. It is not by sitting in my office but by spending time with people, listening to their concerns and I have found that if you listen long enough, these very same people will tell you the solution. I will listen!
- Omaha is much more than statistics and rankings in national magazines. Omaha is much more than the businesses that support this community. Our community is great because of the people who choose to live here. We have a strong foundation, our neighborhoods, that are the building blocks for much of what we can do together.
- So during this campaign, I am not going to focus on problems and concerns, but look at each as a challenge and an opportunity. The best solutions come from the people, not from politicians. I intend to engage people at every level so that together we can create opportunities for Omaha.