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Lincoln Journal Star Candidate Profile: Tom Duden

Age: 69

Occupation: Licensed private investigator, adjunct professor

Political party: Republican

Address: 5835 Saylor St.


Why are you 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. We have poor roadways and infrastructure 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.

What experience do you have that relates to the office you’re seeking?

I served 26 years with Lincoln Police, seven years as vice president of the Lincoln Police Union and was Design Data’s Human Resources/Facilities Director for 18 years. I recruited personnel, developed performance management strategies, established a salary matrix scale and robust benefits for the employees. I have an understanding and know of the importance of doing more with less, coaching and training personnel while maintaining a productive work environment. I have taught criminal justice, management and introductory law courses.

What would your top priorities as a council member be and why?

Public safety is my top priority issue because I believe that the police manpower shortage is at a critical level with 1.1 officers per thousand. The national average is 2, Omaha is at 1.9. Officers are working overtime hours to cover another officer’s shift when they ask for time off. It's an officer safety issue and it’s a response time issue for calls for service. In addition, I believe in strict fiscal oversight, budget transparency and project accountability.

What sets you apart from the other candidates seeking office in your district?

I’m not a politician, I am a common hardworking person that has a unique public service, human resources and business management background. I have lived in Lincoln my entire life, played sports here, directed the Police Union’s SantaCop program for underprivileged children at Christmastime and took kids to Police Summer Camp. I enjoy giving back to the Lincoln community. I have the passion, knowledge and skills to represent my constituents.

The City Council recently passed, then repealed, a Fairness Ordinance that broadly updated the city’s municipal code to expand protections in housing, employment and public accommodation to include sexual orientation and gender identity as well as veterans and active military. Do you believe the city needs to expand those protections and would you support such an ordinance? Why or why not?

I do not support the 67-page Fairness Ordinance which in my opinion infringes on the rights of those whose values and religious beliefs are protected by the 1st Amendment. I believe in following Title IX. The fines are unrealistic and its implications are unfair to citizens and businesses. I believe that anyone with male genitalia does not have the right to use a female bathroom, locker room or dressing room in a school or business because of their gender identity of choice.

The City Council recently passed updates to the city’s floodplain regulations. Do you support those updates? Why or why not? What other efforts should the city make to address a greater flood risk and why?

I do not support the updates as it pertains to owners of older housing being forced to raise the level of their home 2 feet when making renovation of 50% or more of assessed value. That cost alone may prevent restoration. FEMA recommended a 1-foot increase in height and the city bumps it to 2 feet. This will result in widening the floodplain into areas that are not included now. This issue does demand a cost analysis and comprehensive study for more viable solutions.

How should the city best address housing affordability?

The city should first look at what fees, codes and assessments that add to the cost of buying a lot and building a home. I think we should enter into public-private partnerships when extending roadways, sewer/waterlines through expensive lot areas and push in the directions where the city wants to grow like in the Fallbrook area.

There have been recent development proposals near Nine-Mile Prairie and Wilderness Park that have raised concerns about the negative environmental effects of those developments. How would you balance environmental concerns with growth demands of the city?

The integrity of Nine-Mile Prairie should not be infringed with a typical development nearby. A buffer zone or an area encircling the area should be studied to determine what is best in the interest of preserving that area while still enabling residential development.


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