Lincoln City Council Primary Candidate: Eric Burling
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: Eric Burling
- Occupation: AMVNX, President/Owner & Software Engineer
Why are you running for a seat on the city council?
I’m running because I love Lincoln. I’m running because I don’t believe our current City Council represents the citizens of Lincoln. I’ve lived in Lincoln my entire life, and I believe I can make a difference in our city. I believe it’s important to stand up in support of American values and speak up to secure the future of our great nation. There are so many things wrong with our current political climate, and there seems to be so much anger and very little rational thinking. We’re overwhelmed with censorship and cancel culture and bailouts and people thinking hormone therapy for kids is normal. Sometimes it feels like our nation is spiraling out of control. Truthfully, I’m running to do something about all that is wrong in the world. I will be an honest representative for Lincoln, for Nebraska, and for America. I will vote for Lincolnites on every issue. I’m running to keep Lincoln great, to keep us safe, to support local businesses, to strengthen our schools and the futures of our children, and to bring common sense to our government.
What are your key issues in this election and why are they important to address?
Our roads and infrastructure are always key issues in local elections because we pay a lot of taxes and we spend a lot on roads and still can’t get it right. Aside from that, my other key issues are economic growth in Lincoln, education, transparency, fiscal responsibility and ensuring that our community is safe. I believe in Lincoln. In order to ensure our way of life and prosperity for our children, it’s essential we continue to grow our economy. One person’s spending is another person’s income, so let’s grow our economy by investing in Lincoln. Let’s make Lincoln an attractive place for foreign investment. Let’s keep Lincoln great by keeping our greatest talent in Lincoln. Education goes hand in hand with economic growth. We need an increased focus on STEM in schools and afterschool programs. These should be accessible to all students. I’m 100% for equality in opportunities for all students. We should be offering free AP study sessions, free ACT/SAT prep and college planning workshops for those who can’t afford the luxury on their own. AP transfer credits have the potential to save students tens of thousands of dollars in college tuition and I believe it’s our duty to make these opportunities accessible to all students in Lincoln. I feel it’s necessary to reiterate the importance of STEM learning in our schools. My business, for 12 years, has been American education, but I worry for our future because year after year, the students I meet abroad are further and further along in STEM subjects, particularly in math, than their American peers. It has little to do with intelligence, and everything to do with the challenges schools require those students to meet. Transparency within our government and decision-making process ensures that all Lincolnites have an opportunity to participate in local governing. I don’t believe politicians should hide their beliefs. Politicians represent their constituents and all voters have the right to know who they’re voting for. As a member of City Council, I’ll publish my rationale for every decision and vote. As a software engineer, I’ll make it my mission to update technology in our local government so our processes and decisions are clear to every citizen of Lincoln.
We need more fiscal responsibility in our government. There’s certainly a place for social welfare, but it’s a myth that the government can spend money at nobody’s expense. I believe in individual responsibility, free enterprise, and a reduced central government, whose role should be closer to that of a referee than that of a Big Brother figure. Keeping our community safe may be more important than every other issue because without a safe and welcoming community, our city won’t prosper. As a father of sons, I know kids love the police. From Paw Patrol to playing dress up at the Lincoln Children’s Museum, the impression our youth have of police is positive, and it’s essential we reinforce in children a reverence for our first responders and police officers. But, somewhere along the way that changes and adult interactions with police officers mostly feel negative, though that’s not often the fault of the officer. Perhaps it’s because the hardest thing in the world is for anybody to admit he made a mistake. Let’s try to remember that officers are doing their jobs, they’re keeping us accountable and they’re protecting our communities. I support fully funding our police and first responders so that we can always keep Lincoln a safe place to raise a family.
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?
Yes, of course the higher property tax valuations concern me. I’ve talked to countless Lincolnites who had their home values go up by over $50,000 in one year. Some know they can contest the increase, and others don’t. Those that do contest the increase often learn that their home value increased for arbitrary and sometimes nonsensical reasons. One family told me that their home value went up because the city assumed they had replaced all of the old appliances and fixtures. They hadn’t, of course.
As a software engineer, I’ll make it my mission to update technology in our local government so our processes and decisions are clear to every citizen of Lincoln. I want every property owner to know why their property value(s) increased and the reason for those changes so they can properly contest unfair increases.
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?
No, I don’t support the effort to keep an emergency declaration in place. We’re over a year removed from the beginning of COVID. At this point in time, it’s no longer appropriate to call this an emergency and yet our government, both local and federal, refuses to let go of the power this virus has given them. No government official has the right to tell you that you can’t see your friends or hug your family. It’s time to let people start living their lives again.
Would you do anything differently in terms of the city’s response to the pandemic?
In January 2020, I was overseas for business and contracted COVID. It was awful. I just wanted to get back home because I knew I’d be best treated in America. Back then, the images coming out of China were, in retrospect, pure propaganda. They looked like scenes out of a Contagion or Outbreak movie. People were dropping dead in the streets. Those scenes were sensationalized in our media and set the stage for our eventual lockdown here in America. To be perfectly honest, I agreed with most initial responses to the pandemic. We didn’t know enough about the virus to make informed decisions, and so, yes, the most cautious approach made sense. Shutdown the country for two to four weeks and ban travel into the US. Take care of Americans and businesses with a stimulus package and then open the country back up a month later, COVID-free. But a shutdown with no end in sight is not a plan.
How did two weeks to flatten the curve turn into 12 months? Our media has played a huge role in politicizing COVID and blue-state governors worsened the panic by putting COVID patients into nursing homes and driving up the death rates. Tens of thousands of people died due to that decision. COVID can be deadly, but we now know it has a survival rate of 99.7%. I think it’s important that a person is able to change his belief when facts change. Shutting down the country and making everyone live in fear is not the proper response and, frankly, it’s the opposite of what America should stand for.
Our government doesn’t have the right to indefinitely mandate masks for private businesses and shutdown private enterprises. Too many lives have been ruined by government restrictions and shutdowns. The solution to a problem should never be worse than the original problem.
Did you support a recent effort to recall Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and four city council members?
I support every citizen’s right to exercise free speech and to participate in our democracy. That’s the American way. When elected officials go against the will of the people they represent, then it’s appropriate for citizens to exercise their right to force a recall. No matter the result of a recall, one could argue that democracy has prevailed. Elected officials must be accountable for their actions. Our laws in Nebraska allow for recalls of locally elected officials, and so, of course, I will always support efforts to recall elected officials that have gone against the wishes of their constituents, even if that official is myself. We must hold our representatives accountable and recalls are one way to do that. It is unfortunate, however, that we’re unable to recall statewide elected officials.
Does Lincoln have an affordable housing shortage? If so, what do you think should be done to fix it.
Yes, we do have a shortage of affordable housing even though there has been a tremendous increase in housing being built downtown and around the city. The city has supported, even just recently, efforts to build more housing for low-income families and I support ways in which we can ensure every person in Lincoln can afford their own residence.
Some cities allow for 10 year or 15 year property tax exemptions when new homes or apartment complexes are built in blighted neighborhoods, but to properly do that we need to address the problem with our definition of blighted neighborhoods.
Additionally, to support more housing we can allow for rezoning of lots in more neighborhoods so developers can tear down dilapidated buildings, combine lots, and build more apartment units. We should lower property taxes. Less taxes paid by landlords translates into lower costs for them to rent their units, which leads to more affordable housing. Creating more opportunities for developers to build apartment complexes and transitioning more homes into multi-family units is another possibility to provide for more affordable housing.
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?
I’m a fiscal conservative and a free-market capitalist. I believe less governing is the best governing and so, yes, I support any budget cuts when they keep our taxes from rising. This question brings to mind one of Milton Friedman’s most memorable quotes, which states my position more succinctly than I could, “I am in favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it’s possible.” The recent budget cuts made sense because they stopped the city from raising our property taxes.
If elected as council, how will you apply your experience to address future budget negotiations?
I’ve owned and managed an international business for the last 12 years. I have three offices, and three teams of employees, two of which are on the other side of the world. That means I work with separate currencies, different cultures, various goals and monthly budgets. I understand how to properly evaluate the costs and benefits of every decision. I have to do that to keep my business profitable.
When dealing with budget negotiations, there are always areas in which we can be more efficient. As a business owner, I know no one will ever work as hard as I work for my own business. And yet, even I’m not always working in the most efficient way nor spending my company’s money in the best possible way. We can always find trade-offs and increase our efficiency, and it’s essential we keep that in mind when making budgets and decisions so that we’re not wasting our local taxpayer money.
Is there anything else you’d like to include?
I’ve lived here my whole life and I truly believe Lincoln is the greatest city in America. I’m young, I’m ambitious, I work hard, and I care tremendously about Lincoln. I eat my steaks medium-rare, read every night to my sons, never skip leg day, and vow that no one will ever work harder than I will to keep Lincoln great.
Growing up in Nebraska, I’ve learned to value community, respect, hard work, and honesty above all else. Do your best, and be proud of all you do. Do the right thing, even if it’s unpopular. These are the values my parents taught me, they’re the values I everyday to instill in my children, and they are the values that I’ll champion as a member of Lincoln’s City Council.
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