Lincoln City Council Candidate: Sändra Washington
Six candidates, including three incumbents, are on the ballot for the three Lincoln City Council at-large seats. The General Election is on May 4. 10/11 NOW sent a questionnaire to all candidates and we did not edit responses. View other candidate profiles here.
- Name: Sändra Washington
- Occupation: retired, incumbent city councilor
Why are you running for a seat on the city council?
We need someone with the curiosity to ask questions, the patience to hear all perspectives and the work ethic to do the homework necessary to make informed decisions. Local government has a large influence on our daily lives, so the people in leadership need to be accessible, compassionate and committed to making sure City programs and policies are distributed equitably and enacted fairly. We can build a community where everyone has a stake in the future prosperity of Lincoln.
What are your key issues in this election and why are they important to address?
As your next Councilperson, I’ll work with the Mayor, neighborhoods and business leaders on public health and safety, economic recovery, smart sustainable growth, and equity. The long-term prosperity of Lincoln is based on the investments we make in our infrastructure (streets, utilities, broadband) and in projects that make Lincoln attractive to existing and new businesses.
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?
When I look at my tax bill, I ask myself if I value what I get in return – public schools, police and fire, other county and city services. Today, the answer is yes, but I, as a public servant, have a responsibility to spend those dollars wisely, and in ways that benefit the community.
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?
I support the continuance of the emergency declaration. The emergency declaration was set in place to let the State and Federal governments know we may need assistance in responding and recovering from a disaster or emergency. As long as we are still in a response mode, I want to maintain our greatest eligibility for State and Federal funds to help our residents and businesses get back on their feet. I am not willing to gamble on the health and welfare of our community. Currently in Nebraska, 90 of 93 counties, over 270 cities and the State have emergency declarations in place.
Would you do anything differently in terms of the city’s response to the pandemic?
Director Lopez and her team have done a phenomenal job of keeping the residents of Lincoln and Lancaster County safe, most especially given the rapidly changing circumstances and understanding of the virus. Once vaccinations have reached a majority of the community, and our community positivity rate is low for an extended time, I would ask the incident command team to conduct and after-incident review, to discuss the lessons learned. I would include community members from a wide variety of sectors (manufacturing, service, hospitality education, etc.) to participate.
Did you support a recent effort to recall Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and four city council members?
I did not support the recall effort. The City Charter outlines the grounds for recall, and neither the Mayor, nor the Council Members moved out of Lincoln, failed to take the oath of office, were convicted of a felony or crime in violation of their oath, or were absent from office for six consecutive months.
Does Lincoln have an affordable housing shortage? If so, what do you think should be done to fix it.
Many of us can relate to the issue of housing affordability, regardless of where we live or how much we earn. We all want quality housing options we can afford. My current focus is on affordability at lower incomes, where we are not meeting community need. To do so, Lincoln will need private and public stakeholders working together, with a variety of financing tools, as well as review of regulatory timeframes, careful consideration of building codes and public infrastructure investments.
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 worked on and approved our most recent budget. Given the depth of the funding gap, I believe it was prudent to ask departments to make cuts in their budgets, and to support very modest fee increases in a handful of areas.
If elected as council, how will you apply your experience to address future budget negotiations?
I’ll look first at what must be done to keep our City on track with necessary services and programs, then at the areas the community has prioritized – like streets, public safety and economic recovery. If, like last year, we need to trim the budget, I’ll focus on maintaining critical services. Where we can leverage State and Federal funding, I’ll look at how we can use those monies to help families, with affordable housing, broadband connectivity and emergency mental health services.
Is there anything else you’d like to include?
Leaders in government, business, education, and community organizations have a responsibility to work together and foster an attitude that welcomes dialogue. I promise to listen with an open mind, to engage with a sincere curiosity to understand and to the best of my ability, be respectful.
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