LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Four candidates are vying for the open District 2 seat on the Lincoln City Council after member Richard McGinnis, the lone republican on the council, declined to run for a second four-year term. Republicans Tom Duden and Peter Katt will appear on the primary ballot alongside Bailey Feit and Thien Chu, both Democrats. Lincoln City Council District 2 encompasses areas of southeast and far south Lincoln.
Two candidates will advance to the May 2 general election.
10/11 NOW sent a questionnaire to all candidates and we did not edit responses. Read Tom Duden’s responses below and view other candidate profiles here.
Occupation: Licensed Private Detective, Professor Doane University, Southeast Community College teaching in the LPS The Career Academy
Public Service History: Over 26 years with the Lincoln Police Department, less than 2 years with the Norfolk Police Department, Lincoln Parks and Rec PT 3 years.
Briefly explain why you’re running for Lincoln City Council. Our public safety is at stake with decisions that have put fewer police officers on the streets and officer numbers not keeping up with city growth. I want to influence recruiting efforts and I want to see a police department that shares the values of Lincoln’s citizens. In light of recent allegations of sexual harassment why would you build the NE Team substation with separate showers but one dressing room. We have poor roadways in need of repair, and infrastructure issues that will require public-private partnerships to help Lincoln grow and provide affordable housing. We have an agenda that is attacking senior citizens, our young families and traditional values through taxation and policies. I want to continue traditions of the past while meeting challenges ahead in a sensible manner by holding the line and lowering taxes. I believe that I have the knowledge, skills and passion to represent the citizens of Lincoln.
As a city council member, you’ll be tasked with approving a city budget. Explain any experience you have handling budgets. What are your priorities when it comes to budget negotiations and how do you achieve them? The city of Lincoln has 90 some accounts so transparency and accountability are extremely important as well as what we spend the taxpayer’s money on. I want to review current budgetary practices to determine if directors and managers are growing their budget annually as a intended practice. Budgets are predictions based on needs and wants within a given department with often unexpected events will require flexibility. As it pertains to my experience, I oversaw Design Data’s human resources department as well as its facilities and the Design Data Office Park Association for the care and maintenance of the 12-acre park-like setting. As Vice President of the Lincoln Police Union and President of Lincoln Police Union Charities, Inc. (501C) I planned and followed a budget. In addition, I own my own business, Duden Private Investigations and I operate it within a budget. Budgets are predictions of expenditures and income containing both hard and soft estimations. Encourage negotiating on full price items and taking small actions to economize long-term results.
Communication is the most important tool when negotiating a budget and I have practiced those strategies with vendors involving maintenance contracts, I’ve acted as subcontractor for major remodeling projects with Design Data. I have sat on many negotiating teams over labor contracts while with the Lincoln Police Union both as a vice-president and while on the executive board. My priorities are to attend to the infrastructure/road’s installation and repair issues/to seek the expansion of the sanitary sewer district to new areas through a public-private partnership in order to present an opportunity for young families to build a home.
What can be done by the city council to improve housing affordability? I have been told by contractors that the same house built in Lincoln is $5-6K less in Omaha. The reason being regulations/codes, green new deal mandates, and impact fees. We are dictating policies and rules to homeowners/builders when many of those decisions should be made by the buyer or new home owner. Let them decide when or if they can afford housing enhancements. Currently, city government talks about the need for affordable housing but has implemented regulations and fees which in every case is passed on to the contractor and to the homeowner. I feel a more sensible approach should be implemented allowing buyers to make those decisions using incentives to gain similar goals.
What are your thoughts on using Tax Increment Financing (TIF) for development? Often economic development is viewed as the most important thing a city can do. Tax payers need to understand TIF is not a giveaway. I believe before a TIF project is implemented that the voters should be informed of the implications and allowed to vote on the matter as they would to approve or disapprove of a bond. Tax Increment Financing can be an approach to solving development problems through a coordinated and concerted effort between government and the needs of a community but it should be decided by the community.
How should Lincoln work to attract new business and support and increase the number of small businesses? Lincoln needs to improve its record of enabling business growth as well as encouraging the creation of small businesses. By having multiple educational institutions in Lincoln, we do have a pool of new workers but we need to develop trade programs or non-academic apprenticeship programs to help employers in accommodating skills required of building and maintaining new businesses. Combined to a new marketing strategy Lincoln could feasibly attract businesses to join the Lincoln Community because of the multiple opportunities offered.
When should Lincoln’s COVID-19 health emergency expire? Now and immediately. The emergency designation has lasted too long and is no longer necessary.
Would you support an LGBTQ fairness ordinance ballot initiative? I believe in the protection of individual rights, the US Constitution as well as following the rules of Title IX which guarantees equal access to educational opportunities. I do not support the LGBTQ fairness ordinance which I interpret as being unfair and biased. I do not believe in creating rules that infringe on the religious rights of citizens. A student can say a prayer in a public school if it does not infringe on the rights of fellow students. Consequently, I do not believe that an individual’s gender choice should infringe on the rights of others. The fairness ordinance is a step in the wrong direction.
A handful of Nebraska municipalities have outlawed abortion by local ordinance. Would you support a such a move in Lincoln? Nebraska is a pro-life state and I believe that individual communities have a right in making such ordinances. I am prolife, I would support and praise any movement to ban abortion.