Lincoln City Council Primary Candidate: Roy Christensen
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: Roy Christensen
- Occupation: Audiologist, incumbent city councilor
Why are you running for a seat on the city council?
Lincoln is off-balance in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some have lost their businesses, others jobs or childcare, and sadly some have succumbed to the virus. Lincoln needs strong, experienced leadership so that we can recover from the pandemic, continue to move the city forward and improve our quality of life.
With my eight years of experience on the council, and experience volunteering in the community and running a small business, I am uniquely positioned to keep Lincoln on track and fight for our priorities in this difficult time.
It is my duty to step up and continue serving Lincoln so that we can overcome these challenges, increase public safety, further develop the business community, and expand our infrastructure for future growth.
What are your key issues in this election and why are they important to address?
Public safety, job creation, and public infrastructure are the key issues in the election because they will affect the growth of Lincoln for years to come.
With Lincoln’s population approaching 300,000 people spread across nearly 100 square miles, plus the number of special events hosted by the city, adding more police while working to retain our current police force, and providing them with adequate equipment and funding, must be a top priority if we are to continue to meet the city’s public safety needs.
For job creation, the city must grow public-private partnerships encouraging job creation including for start-up entrepreneurs, new business recruitment and existing business retention, and address affordable housing needs for workers. Housing development and affordability are important economic drivers. City government must work with developers to ensure building codes, fees and approvals don’t needlessly increase costs that inevitably are passed on to homebuyers and renters.
Finally, investing in public infrastructure is a top priority to secure the future of Lincoln. Roads are the lifeblood of our city, and we need to ensure that they are properly maintained, and new roads are built in order to sustain the city’s growth. There are also two major infrastructure projects on the horizon that will take serious analysis and public input. One would address Lincoln’s looming water shortage by accessing water from the Missouri River. The second would focus on water detention, retention, and diversion on all tributaries of Salt Creek, which would reduce the risk of future flooding for existing homes and future development.
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?
The ever increasing property tax burden on Lincoln families is absolutely concerning. Higher tax rates take money out of the pockets of families and the economy, and hinder growth. During my tenure, I have fought against property tax increases and I will continue to hold the line in the years to come if re-elected.
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?
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a very large impact on Lincoln. Businesses have closed down, families are out of work, and sadly some have succumbed to the virus. The city had need for a strong response to the virus to keep our community safe.
With that said, the vaccination rollouts and hospital capacity we have now mean it is time for the city to accelerate recovery and normalization.
Would you do anything differently in terms of the city’s response to the pandemic?
Lincoln’s COVID response lacked transparency and engagement. The city should have taken more measures to listen to the public, whom we represent. Lincoln’s capacity restrictions should have been more reasonable to protect small businesses (especially for those outdoors), restarted youth sports sooner, and operated with an overall better balance between common sense, science and public health. It is time to listen and serve the public, and help with recovery.
Did you support a recent effort to recall Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird and four city council members?
No. While I disagree with aspects of the mayor and health director’s mandates and restrictions, I do not believe the Mayor’s actions warranted a recall.
Does Lincoln have an affordable housing shortage? If so, what do you think should be done to fix it.
Lincoln is in a housing crisis. Housing development and affordability are important economic drivers. City government must work with developers to reduce land costs, lower housing infrastructure costs and make sure the city is a partner and not an impediment to housing development, and ensure building codes, fees and approvals don’t needlessly increase costs that inevitably are passed on to homebuyers and renters.
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?
Fees are taxes. City Hall needs to hold the overall budget increase to no more than 3% with few exceptions. Spending restraint is key to holding down fees and property taxes. Over the last ten years, the budget for Lincoln has grown by five to six percent a year. This far out paces inflation. We can control taxes by controlling spending.
If re-elected as council, how will you apply your experience to address future budget negotiations?
When budgeting, the most important thing to do is set spending priorities. We can and we must fund the needs of the city like public safety, job creation and infrastructure projects, without raising taxes. Through my experience on the council, running a small business and as a veteran, I have experience with organizations big and small and know how to set priorities.
Is there anything else you’d like to include?
Being on the city council is about listening to the people, engaging the public, and working to allow Lincoln to thrive in the years to come. During my tenure, I have worked with other members of the council regardless of their political stripes and with Mayor Chris Beutler to pass many important compromises and meet the needs of the city. If re-elected, I will continue to put the people of Lincoln first
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