Lincoln City Council Primary Candidate: Tom Beckius
Twelve candidates, including three incumbents, are running for the three Lincoln City Council at-large seats. Voters will cast a ballot for three candidates in the April 6 primary election and six candidates will advance to the General Election on May 4. 10/11 NOW sent a questionnaire to all candidates and we did not edit responses. View other candidate profiles here.
- Name: Tom Beckius
- Occupation: Owner, Nebraska Brokerage
Why are you running for a seat on the city council?
As Vice-Chairman of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Planning Commission, a small business owner and community advocate, I see opportunities every day to enhance our community. I am an experienced and dedicated leader who has the skill set to build consensus, engage with stakeholders and get valuable policy work done in the effort to improve our quality of life for us and our children.
What are your key issues in this election and why are they important to address?
I will prioritize public safety and housing affordability. The hiring of Lincoln’s new police and fire chiefs are critically important in maintaining our safety and continuing the good work done by our first responders. Lincoln’s housing affordability is a key component in retaining and attracting residents. As home prices increase, we must do what we can to work with builders to encourage new supply in the market at all price points.
Higher property tax valuations continue to lead to higher property tax payments in the city of Lincoln. Does this concern you? Why or why not?
Higher property tax valuations and the subsequent tax levy concern me. Although the City of Lincoln comprises a small portion of your total property tax, it is my responsibility to make sure the taxes levied are necessary, the projects funded are of value and that the entire process is as efficient as possible.
Do you support a recent effort by the Lincoln City Council to keep an emergency declaration in place for Lincoln during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Yes, I support keeping the emergency declaration in place so Lincoln remains eligible for pandemic relief funding.
Would you do anything differently in terms of the city’s response to the pandemic?
The City’s response to the pandemic was excellent. If I were to do anything differently, I would have wished to see a stronger marketing effort to encourage citizens to continue to frequent and shop at local businesses, especially local restaurants.
Did you support a recent effort to recall Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and four city council members?
No, I did not support a recent effort to recall the Mayor or district City Council members. Recalls of elected officials should be reserved for gross negligence.
Does Lincoln have an affordable housing shortage? If so, what do you think should be done to fix it.
Housing affordability is a key component in keeping Lincoln successful and attractive. I support a comprehensive review of zoning codes in order to lower housing costs. We need to investigate minimum lot sizes, widths and setback requirements, higher density and building heights for apartments in new growth areas, reduction or elimination of parking requirements and new density bonus proposals for alternative housing types.
The most recent budget in Lincoln came with $12 million gap filled by fee increases in 15 different areas, as well as department budget cuts. Do you support the effort made by the council? Would you have proposed other changes?
Yes, I supported the decisions made by the current council in working to fill the $12m budget gap.
If elected as council, how will you apply your experience to address future budget negotiations?
As the owner of a small business, I understand the realities of setting a budget and balancing different priorities. Local governments need to first provide basic services well, such as police and fire service, quality roads, safe drinking water and a dependable sewer system. It is my priority to ensure basic city services above all else. While these are not the most exciting things in the world, they’re important, comprise the majority of the budget and receive top priority in my approach to budgeting. Then I will turn to items where we positively improve our quality of life in important ways but which are perhaps less vital in challenging times, such as parks, libraries and pools. We may be able to increase revenue for quality of life budget items next year with new casino gambling revenue.
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