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Responses to the Seeing Red Candidate Questionnaire

A few weeks ago, Seeing Red Nebraska sent out a candidate questionnaire to local Mayoral and City Council candidates. Below are the answers we received from the candidates who responded. Thank you, Jeff Kirkpatrick (running for Mayor) and Cassey Lottman (running for City Council in District 4)!

Answers from Jeff Kirkpatrick, candidate for Mayor:

I. Public Safety

What are your plans for the police and fire departments?

As the city grows and expands, our first responders must keep pace. Lincoln should apply for a federal grant to allow us to add 10 new police officers each year for the next two years. The city has already committed to adding additional firefighters.

 

Given that Nebraska remains one of the only states to have preserved the right of cities to pass firearm ordinances, what do you think is the city’s responsibility in the effort to reduce gun deaths?
Lincoln has always been willing to consider common sense firearm ordinance and I believe it should continue to do so going forward. There is always a concern that if we go to far, the Legislature will strip Lincoln of its ability to pass firearm ordinances, but I believe there is room for improvements in our current code.

 

Do you support local law enforcement agencies receiving excess military equipment such as armored vehicles and grenade launchers from the U.S. Department of Defense?
Lincoln is fortunate not to have a lot of hostage situations. I told the Police union that I would listen to their request for an armored car, but I haven’t seen any evidence so far that would justify the expense. I certainly would be opposed to procuring grenade launchers or other military grade equipment.

 

II. Development and Affordability

What can Lincoln do to address all of our unused retail/big box space?
The unused retail space is an opportunity for other uses. I
would look to the private sector to come up with uses and support them in putting that space to constructive use.

 

How will your plans for redevelopment ensure that low-income and special-needs residents see improved opportunities for affordable housing and services?
The city has made good use of TIF redevelopment projects in the last 12 years. However, low income housing has never been on the list of priorities when Lincoln worked with developers. I think that should change and the city should make sure that developers provide low-income housing as part of
redevelopment projects.

 

 

III. Justice and Sustainability

Do you believe that city law enforcement should cooperate with federal agencies who are seeking to identify, detain, or deport Lincoln residents based on their immigration status?
The city should continue to cooperate with federal agencies who have arrest warrants for people accused of serious crimes. Immigrant status is not of local concern and, in fact, a focus on immigration status would interfere with our ability to provide a safe community. Our current approach is working well.

 

What do you see as the city’s responsibility to protect LGBTQA+ residents from employment and housing discrimination?
The city should adoption amendments to Title 11 of our city code to allow the Lincoln’s Human Rights Commission to investigate and proceed against employers and landlords who discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or identity.

 

How can the City of Lincoln address environmental challenges, such as climate change and maintaining clean water supply?
Lincoln has made good progress in the last 10 years in the area of generating renewable electricity. However, we need to continue to make progress in that area. The goal should be to move beyond the 50% mark for renewable electricity used as well as move toward an electric fleet of city vehicles. In the meantime, we need to continue efforts to generate and use natural gas from our landfill and wastewater treatment plants.

 


 

Answers from Cassey Lottman, running for City Council in District 4:

 

I. Public Safety

What are your plans for the police and fire departments?

I’d like to learn more about what work is being done to ensure that the police department is working in the best interest of people of color, low income people, and the disabled. While I understand that the police play an important role in our society, I also understand that improper applications of police power can be inconvenient and even deadly to marginalized communities. I will work to ensure that police receive proper training on unconscious bias and are held to high standards on the appropriate use of force.

 

Given that Nebraska remains one of the only states to have preserved the right of cities to pass firearm ordinances, what do you think is the city’s responsibility in the effort to reduce gun deaths?

I’ve been lamenting the frequent theft of guns from unlocked vehicles in Lincoln for years now. I think the city absolutely has a responsibility to ensure that those who are exercising their right to bear arms are not putting those around them at risk. Risk might come from guns left unsecured falling into the hands of criminals, from accidental discharge by children, and in situations of domestic violence. The city should actively work to mitigate these risks by the most effective legal means.

 

Do you support local law enforcement agencies receiving excess military equipment such as armored vehicles and grenade launchers from the U.S. Department of Defense?
No, I do not. I understand that military surplus equipment can feel like a bargain for local law enforcement, but I think that responding to local issues with military force tends to escalate issues rather than de-escalate them. I have seen how such equipment can be used to quash civil dissent from communities of color and the risk it creates for those who are attempting to exercise their First Amendment rights. We don’t need that here in Lincoln.


II. Development and Affordability

What can Lincoln do to address all of our unused retail/big box
space?
Tear it all down and build more housing! Or develop walkable
neighborhoods with the kind of retail that is still in demand: locally
owned, independent stores. In the past Lincoln city planners have
demanded that new developments include first floor retail if they are in commercial or mixed-use zones. Those spaces built for retail frequently sits empty. I’m happy that the city has recently moved to relax those requirements and encourage other forms of “active use” like daycares, fitness centers, and office buildings at street level, and hope to see that trend continue.

 

How will your plans for redevelopment ensure that low-income and special-needs residents see improved opportunities for affordable housing and services?
My first real introduction to Lincoln politics was through the neighborhood-level response to the “SoDo” re-development plan which would have transformed the South of Downtown neighborhood from the dense, vibrant neighborhood filled with ethnic, age, and income diversity to something much more bland, homogenous, and comfortable for upper middle-class (mostly white) people. I’m proud of the neighborhood response that stood up for the character of our neighborhood. “We Are Vital” became the rallying cry to signal that a neighborhood can still be a wonderful place to live even when it contains many low-income residents and non-white people. I believe all redevelopment plans should carefully consider how existing residents will be affected. I understand that there is a long history of segregation and housing discrimination that led to inequalities in access to housing that must be corrected.
When I say affordable housing, I am specifically talking about affordable housing for people who are low-income. If people receiving disability benefits can’t find a place to live that they can afford, how can we say that we have adequate affordable housing in Lincoln?
With that in mind, I’ve been invested in the fight for housing affordability and quality particularly for renters, through my participation in the grassroots group Renters Together and as a member of the South of Downtown Community Development Organization’s Steering Committee. For the past several decades, Lincoln funds for helping people access housing have gone towards encouraging homeownership, but in the current economy, that’s just not feasible for everyone. We need to direct more funds to making sure those who rent can afford it.


III. Justice and Sustainability

Do you believe that city law enforcement should cooperate with federal agencies who are seeking to identify, detain, or deport Lincoln residents based on their immigration status?
Absolutely not. For all of our safety, it’s important that all Lincoln residents feel they can trust the local police. If a woman can’t report rape or domestic violence to LPD because of her own immigration status, the culprit may continue to hurt her and stay at large, free to target other victims.

 

What do you see as the city’s responsibility to protect LGBTQA+ residents from employment and housing discrimination?
I wish this could be handled at the state level so that our LGBTQIA+ neighbors in small towns could be protected from discrimination as well as those here in Lincoln. Failing that, I believe the city has a responsibility to pass an anti-discrimination ordinance. It’s an economic development issue– I’ve had friends leave town to find work in places they won’t be fired for who they are. More than that, though, it’s a human rights issue. I will follow the wisdom of LGBTQIA+ leaders on how to proceed to prohibit workplace and housing discrimination.

 

How can the City of Lincoln address environmental challenges, such as climate change and maintaining clean water supply?
Climate change is real, and we don’t have long to act if we want to slow it down. The environment should be a top-level concern in all city infrastructure discussions. We need to encourage density, make public transit much more convenient, and make sure our streets are walkable and bike-friendly. I’d love to see the City of Lincoln put pressure on LES to transition quickly to clean energy sources as well. It’s perhaps a bit too optimistic to hope for decisive action on climate change to come from the federal government, so cities need to step up.
Lincoln can and should be a leader among American cities in how actively it is responding to environmental challenges.