Christa Yoakum running for re-election to Lancaster County Board of Commissioners
Published: Apr. 15, 2020 at 1:02 PM CDT
The following responses have not been edited. Name (also include name you’d prefer to be called): Christa Yoakum Preferred political party: Democrat Current or most recent profession: County Commissioner, Program Coordinator Tell us a little about yourself: I am a life-long resident of Nebraska. I attended a one-room school in rural Lancaster County before my family moved to Lincoln. I've also lived across the state when my husband John was Fire Chief in Alliance and McCook. Together, we have four grown sons and seven grandchildren. I have built a career of caring for Nebraskans, first as a healthcare worker and later examining barriers impacting the lives of our Nebraska neighbors. I've also been able to volunteer on the Lincoln Public Schools Strategic Planning Committee, the LPS High School Task Force, and YWCA of Lincoln Board. Why are you running for this office? I have been fighting for working families, defending clean air and water, and working on public policy for thirty years. I want to keep serving the people of Lancaster County in these challenging times. As Commissioner, I have been a champion of environmental issues, pushed to expand high-speed internet to all Nebraskans, and am working to reform regulations to be more consumer friendly while promoting economic growth for working families. What do you feel are the most critical issues facing voters in Lancaster County? Property taxes and infrastructure. We need to make sure our roads and bridges our safe, our county corrections facilities are up to date and well-maintained, and we need to be fiscally responsible with the taxpayer’s money. Lancaster County has dealt with many infrastructure issues in the last year, including many bridges that still need repairs. What needs to be done and how would you help make it happen? Unfortunately, our county suffers from years of neglect and lack of funding. Our Engineering Department has worked to find keep roads and bridges safe with limited resources, but right now our needs are outstripping those resources. We as County Commissioners looked hard at allowing bonding for bridges. We want to avoid raising property taxes to fund these. We would look at working closely with the legislature to make this happen in the next session. I also believe in forming partnerships with other counties across our state to help get this done. High property taxes continue to be an issue for property owners in Lancaster County, as well as higher valuations. Do you also see it to be an issue? What, if anything, would you do to address it? Yes, taxes and valuations are a concern in our County. As a homeowner here, I know first hand the impact property taxes can have. The first thing we need to do as a County Board is stop passing the buck. As a county, we have put off difficult decisions, and now we are left with too much deferred maintenance on infrastructure. We need to take care of our priority items first so we don’t have large tax bills later. We also need to work better with state officials to ensure a diversity of funding sources, not an over-reliance on property taxes. Do you feel affordable housing is an issue for Lancaster County residents? If so, is there anything you would do to address it? Yes – housing affordability is an issue here, especially quality affordable housing. We need to work with local developers, nonprofits, and city governments to spur new growth to bring down the cost of housing. What other issues facing voters are most important to you as a candidate? Public safety is a priority issue as we handle the Coronavirus. Families need to feel that they can trust their county government to keep them safe, and to listen to the public health experts as we address this crisis. We need to continue to invest in community corrections services while ensuring efficiency and safety at our county jail. Keeping costs down, protecting public safety, and treating problems with real solutions, like our Veteran’s court, should be our focus. Why do you consider yourself the best person to address the needs of people in this district? My experience in public policy makes me the strongest candidate in this race, especially my work in our community. From attending school in the rural parts of the county, to my work with health care facilities and public policy, I have the experience in this community that we need on the Board. Why is your vision the one voters should choose? My vision is common sense for working families, not for wealthy special interests. I’m a former CNA and my husband is a retired firefighter – we are real people who know the value of hard work. Voters should choose this vision if they want everyone in our community to have an opportunity for a better life. How has your experience prepared you for this job? My experience this past year on the Board has helped me develop the knowledge of what issues are affecting our county. My background in health care helps me understand how to run and manage a large organization. My work in the community, recently with Raymond Central families, shows I listen and respond to what the voters need. What separates you from your primary challenger(s)? What about your potential general election challenger? I have been working for others for 30 years – as a health care worker, in public policy, and now on the County Board. I have served our County on the boards of the YWCA, West Lincoln Family Resource Center, Community Health Endowment, and multiple Lincoln Public Schools task forces. I’m a dedicated public servant who is committed to making our community work better for everyone. We need strong, experienced local leadership in challenging times like these. This experience working for the public and understanding policy issues separate me from my opponent. Is there any other message, statement or concern you’d like to address? We want to make sure we are adequately funding our cash reserve. When catastrophic situations, like COVID-19 or last year’s flooding happen, we should be prepared. Just like your family needs to save for a rainy day, our county needs to be fiscally responsible as well. Lincoln Residents can find their Lancaster County Commission district here, while rural residents of Lancaster County can look here.