Update 5/14/13: Omaha and Lincoln results are below. Bold hopes all new or re-elected officials listen to citizens. As citizens, even if the person you voted for did not get elected, you still must push to ensure your voice is heard on the issues you care about. Always push for change.
Lincoln and Omaha are headed to the polls for critical elections that will determine if we move our cities forward or go down a status quo path. Before we get to the Voter Guides, huge thanks to Chelsea Johnson and Jesus Lopez who researched the candidates. Make comments below on items we missed!
OMAHA VOTER GUIDE: MAY 14, 2013
On Tuesday, May 14, Omahans will vote in Mayoral, City Council and School Board races.
There are some great progressive, bold candidates we would love to see move Omaha forward with their ideas and values. And there are those candidates who represent the status quo. So, without further ado, here are Omaha candidate profiles to help make your decision when you vote on May 14th in Omaha.
(lost) Jim Suttle has faced numerous obstacles as mayor and always seems to come back swinging. His challenger, former District 5 city council member Jean Stothert, seized 32 percent of the vote in an early April primary. The incumbent came away with 24 percent. So, Suttle needs his base to turn out big. Suttle beat a recall attempt, he beat the endless attacks on the “wheel tax” and he stood by his ideas to generate more growth in the Old Market district. While everyone loves lower taxes, the wheel and restaurant taxes that Suttle put in place helped Omaha from going bankrupt.
On gun violence, a major issue in Omaha, Suttle wants to work with Washington and the Unicameral to create policies banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines.Suttle is up for the challenge on the sewer system, which needs major focus. He also supports the growing creative and tech class in Omaha that brings young people and young families to Omaha, planting roots and building a new sector of the economy.
Suttle’s campaign website can be found here. Suttle will move Omaha forward.
(won) Jean Stothert showed little respect to citizens that testified before the City Council during the fight for Workplace Fairness. How you treat citizens that are on the opposite side of an issue matters, and says a lot on how you govern.
Stothert said one of the key strategies to reducing gun violence is imposing harsher penalties on those that buy illegal guns. A local progressive advocate has a great blog that covers Jean in more detail.
Stothert often repeats that her goals will be to lower taxes and get the public pensions in line with private pension plans. Every politician says this. We need more forward-thinking and creativity for our largest city. Jean serves on the Omaha City Council and served on the Millard Board of Education. Read more about Jean here.
Stothert’s campaign website can be found here. Jean is status quo.
Omaha City Council Races
(won) Pete Festersen, 42, has held his City Council seat since 2009. One of the major victories he touts is taking 900 illegal guns off Omaha’s streets through strict enforcement. Festersen supports the creation of an auditor for the police department. He supports modernizing city engagement by using the web and mobile technologies as platforms for dialogue with citizens. Festersen believes in increasing demolition funding to clear old buildings out quicker and make space for new developments. He saved the local library from major budget cuts. He has a master’s degree in public administration. Festersen is a board member with the Omaha Children’s Museum, College World Series Inc., and the Ak-Sar-Ben Future Trust. He is 42.
Fetersen’s campaign site can be found here. He will continue moving Omaha forward.
(lost) Ed Truemper is challenging incumbent Pete Festersen for the District 1 City Council seat. The pediatric care physician has never held public office before but wants to bring his skills working with families in times of crisis to the Council. He has a limited support of the police auditor position, and expressed a strong willingness to preserve Omaha’s aged architecture. Truemper mentors high school and college students seeking medical careers. He is 58.
Truemper’s campaign site can be found here.
(won) Ben Gray is looking to hold on to his District 2 City Council seat touting the success of violence reduction initiatives and gang intervention under his tenure, which began in 2009. Gray does not support creating a police auditor position. He supports continuing gun buy back. To foster civic engagement, he created the North Omaha Neighborhood Alliance. Gray supports adding more farmer’s markets, local food and supporting urban gardening to address the food desert areas of Omaha. Gray has voted in favor of giving developers incentives to redevelop existing areas. He is a photojournalist and consultant by trade and a former member of the United States Air Force. Without his support, it is unlikely the Workplace Fairness Ordinance would have ever passed. He is 63 and was endorsed by the Omaha World Herald.
Gray’s campaign site can be found here. He will continue moving Omaha forward.
(lost) Tariq Al-Amin, 56, is challenging Ben Gray for his District 2 City Council position. The retired police officer and community activist is pushing for major quality of life improvements in north Omaha to create the job pool that would draw employers and good jobs to that part of town. Al-Amin also seeks reforms for the city pension system and increased oversight on the police department, including creating a position to audit the department.
Tariq’s campaign site can be found here.
(won) Chris Jerrram was elected in 2009 to represent District 3. We give thumbs up to Chris for wanting to use Facebook and Twitter to solicit more voter feedback. He supports the use of “shot spotter” technology to reduce violence. In his time with the council, Jerram has supported an appropriation for Sienna Francis House, a homeless outreach center. He’s also been open to using tax money to stimulate developments in midtown.
Jerram’s campaign site can be found here. He will continue moving Omaha forward.
(lost) Joaquin Jasso Jr. will attempt to unseat District 3′s City Council representative Chris Jerram. He supports creating the police auditor position. Jasso, 52, is a senior media producer. He is untried in public service. Jasso volunteers with Goal Buddies. He has a Bachelor of Arts from Creighton University.
Jasso’s campaign site can be found here.
(won) Garry Gernandt has served with City Council since 2001. He supports an LGBT worker protection ordinance and has advanced a 311 city info service line. Gernant is a retired police officer as well as a retired Marine. Gernandt holds a Bachelors of Science in criminal justice and political science. He is 66.
Gernandt’s campaign site can be found here. He will continue moving Omaha forward.
(lost) Virgil Patlan Sr. seeks to unseat Garry Genandt from the District 4 city council position. He opposes the tobacco tax and favors bringing an ordinance for LGBT worker protections to a vote. Patlan, 57, is a retired police officer.
Patlan’s campaign site can be found here.
(lost) Jeff Moore will make his bid for the City Council seat vacated by mayoral candidate Jean Stothert this election season. Moore is a State Farm Insurance agent. He advocates strengthening Omaha’s tourism industry. He seeks to enhance bike and running trails. Moore is a proponent of alternatives to fossil fuels. He has a journalism degree from the University of Nebraska. Moore, 49, is a volunteer with an extensive list of organizations including the American Heart Association.
Moore’s campaign site can be found here. He will move Omaha forward.
(won) Rich Pahls is seeking the City Council seat vacated by mayoral candidate Jean Stothert. Pahls, 69, has served as chairman of the Unicameral’s Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee. He retired in 2004 from Millard Public Schools as principal of Aldrich Elementary School. A registered Republican, Pahls stresses the need to reduce taxes and cut regulations. He supports a citizen review panel over a police auditor. He has a Doctorate in Education from the University of Lincoln-Nebraska.
Pahls’ campaign site can be found here.
(lost) Phil Klein will look to unseat District 6 City Council Member Franklin Thompson this election cycle. Klein, 63, was mayor of Elkhorn from 1992 until it was annexed in the mid 2000s. He believes in redistricting the annexed municipality to increase its voting power. Klein has vowed to work for strong penalties to curb violence. He is a proponent of community gardens and farmer’s markets to alleviate food insecurity as well bringing grocers to food deserts. Klein is a member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles. He works with the Douglas County Highway Department.
Klein’s campaign site can be found here. He will move Omaha forward.
(won) Franklin Thompson will seek to defend his City Council seat from challenger Phil Klein. Thompson voted against the Workplace Fairness ordinance. He advocates strong penalties to curb violence as well as reform programs for offenders to ensure they have alternative lifestyles that don’t involve illegal behavior. Thompson is a proponent of preserving historic buildings and touts his swing vote contribution to an initiative to devote city and federal funds to remove lead. Thompson is a University of Nebraska-Omaha Professor. He is a volunteer with the Domestic Violence Council, Omaha Community Partnership and Community Health Charities as well as others.
A campaign website for Thompson could not be located, but his bio on the City Council website is here.
(lost) Tim Lonergan seeks the City Council seat representing District 7. Lonergan, 51, is owner of his own business, Lonergan Lawns. This will be his third attempt at a City Council seat. Lonergan favors gun rights and opposes an auditor for the police department. He is a retired U.S. Navy officer as well as a retired Coast Guard member. He volunteers with a number off organizations including Metro Health Credit Union and St. Leo’s Catholic Church. He has a Bachelor of Science in secondary education and special education.
A campaign website for Lonergan could not be located, but the Omaha World-Herald has more information here.
(won) Aimee Melton will make her bid for the District 7 City Council position this election cycle. She is a partner at the law firm Reagan, Melton and Delaney LLP, which she started as a single mother of two. She is a vocal opponent of taxes. Melton supports initiatives to take illegal guns off the streets. She does not support the auditor citing the city’s current budget issues. She would like to encourage grocery stores to come to neighborhoods that do not have access to fresh and local food.
Melton’s campaign site can be found here. She will move Omaha forward.
LINCOLN VOTER GUIDE: MAY 7, 2013
On Tuesday, May 7, Lincoln voted in three City Council races and elected one candidate who supports new energy:
Congratulations to Leirion Gaylor Baird! The other two winners were Roy Christensen and Trent Fellers. Full election results may be found here, and our takes on the candidates remain available below.
On May 7th, Lincolnites will vote for three candidates to fill the at-large seats on the Lincoln City Council. This is an open race, which means that you can vote for any three of the six candidates who will be on the ballot, as candidates will not face off by district.
There are some great progressive, bold candidates we would love to see move Lincoln forward with their ideas and values. And there are those candidates who represent the status quo.
So, without further ado, here are candidate profiles for the Lincoln City Council to help make your decision when you vote on May 7th in Lincoln. We break the candidates down into two categories, Status Quo and Moving Lincoln Forward:
(won) Roy Christensen: Christensen is an audiologist here in Lincoln. We approve of Roy’s stance on eminent domain, which is that it should be used in only very limited circumstances. However, his views on other important issues have much to be desired. His stance on sustainable development is especially worrisome, as he apparently does not believe in living today in a way that will provide a quality way of life for future generations—he is “opposed to this social agenda.” When it comes to equal rights, he believes DOMA should be upheld and is against any “assault on marriage,” and does not support city ordinances that protect against employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. Bottom line on this candidate: there are better ones on the ballot. Roy was endorsed by the Lincoln Journal Star. Read more about Roy here and here.
Christensen’s campaign website can be found here.
(lost) Mark Whitehead: We find that we are on the opposite side of Mark. Foremost is his support for the Keystone XL pipeline. He is a big supporter of KXL and tarsands. He is the President of Nebraska Petroleum Marketers and a Board Member of the Petroleum Marketers Association of America. He has even testified in favor of the pipeline before the State Department. He is against city ordinances that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation because “it creates on more special protected class of individuals in our society,” and says these ordinances “could cause more unfounded lawsuits against employers.” Read more about Mark here and here.
Whitehead’s campaign website can be found here.
(won) Trent Fellers: Fellers is definitely a committed young public servant. Having served in the Marines, as Chief of Staff for State Treasurer Shane Osbourne and currently as an employee for the Nebraska Department of Energy, there is no question that he has spent his life in the public sphere. When it comes to his stance on energy, we support his views on the need for greater efficiency measures, but are disappointed by his allegiance to coal and fossil fuels. He says “it makes no sense to push LES towards the use of renewables,” which we fundamentally disagree with. This type of status quo thinking from Fellers puts Lincoln on a path to doing nothing to balance our energy portfolio. Read more about Trent here and here.
Fellers’ campaign website can be found here.
(lost) Meg Mikolajczyk: One of the candidates who we would like to see sitting on the City Council is Meg. She is a small-business owner who joined a fellow UNL law school graduate to start up a law firm in Lincoln geared toward “vulnerable populations who desperately need these services, but struggle to access them.” She is a progressive who supports sustainable development and as a young Nebraska leader, believes we have a responsibility to think long-term, which is what sustainable development is all about. Meg notes that, “green policy makes sense for our economy, our community, and our future generations.” She is also a “strong advocate and ally of the LGBT community,” and is a fighter for equal rights in general, saying that she “will not back down from ensuring that all Lincolnites achieve fairness and equality in employment opportunities.” Meg strongly believes that as a city council woman, she will work to consider all viewpoints and hear from her constituents. She has heart and passion. Read more about Meg here and here.
Mikolajczyk’s campaign website can be found here.
(won) Leirion Gaylor Baird: Leirion is highly involved in the Lincoln community, including serving on the LPS Superintendent’s Board of Advisors and on the board of the Friends of the Pioneers Park Nature Center. Leirion is a strong supporter of sustainability and places a high value on education. She has recently been endorsed by the Lincoln fire fighters and she says she “is motivated by a desire to help others.” She would bring a well-rounded perspective to the City Council, as she has worked in the private, non-profit, and public sectors. Leirion was endorsed by the Lincoln Journal Star. Read more about Leirion here and here.
Gaylor’s campaign website can be found here.
(lost) Gene Carroll: Gene is a lifelong Lincolnite and is the only incumbent in the race. During his four-year tenure on the city council, he has overseen some big developments, including planning the new arena and helping renovate the P-Street corridor. While opponents are attacking him for voting for tax increases, we believe that candidates who pledge to never increase taxes during their tenures are pledging to limit the capabilities of the public sector to move our country forward. Gene also voted and fought for the LGBT workplace fairness ordinance. In 2012 Lincoln was named the top city in the country in wellbeing—a title that has been earned through the work of citizens, businesses, and the public officials who have helped raise the city’s status. Gene was endorsed by the Lincoln Journal Star. Read more about Gene here and here.
Carroll’s campaign website can be found here.