LINCOLN, Nebr. (KOLN) Four of the five candidates in Lincoln's race for mayor addressed more than 100 people gathered at a Leadership Lincoln Mayoral Candidate Forum Wednesday. Many of the priorities for the city were shared, with different emphasis added by each of the candidates.
Public safety, developing Lincoln's workforce to meet the needs of employers, and infrastructure issues dominated the discussions. Both Cyndi Lamm and Jeff Kirkpatrick talked about adding personnel to the police force, which Leirion Gaylor Baird pointed to her City Council record of securing new trucks and equipment for Lincoln Fire and Rescue "since some of their equipment is old enough to vote."
The recent issue on everyone's mind were the roads, and plenty of discussion centered on the challenge. "We have to find the funding for our streets and bridges," Rene Solc said. "It's great to have many ideas, but we have to find the money for these things first."
Lamm said the City needs to do a better job prioritizing its many projects to make sure the money is being spent to address the most pressing challenges.
"Our challenge is that our resources will always be short," Jeff Kirkpatrick said. "We get good value for our tax dollar, especially compared to Omaha or Bellevue, but it will always be difficult to make our dollars stretch far enough to cover our needs."
Gaylor Baird also wanted to extend the infrastructure discussion to technology, libraries, parks and pools. "All of these things play a role in making Lincoln a great city to live in."
Lamm agrees that the city needs to catch up technology-wise. "We need to get 5G in all of Lincoln. We had the opportunity to make that happen, but then we overcharged for access and the technology companies backed out." She said we need the bandwidth to be competitive in attracting high-tech companies to town.
Even though candidate Krystal Gabel was unable to attend, the other candidates addressed the legalization of marijuana issue in the absence of the issue's biggest proponent.
"It's sounding like the voters may get a chance at it (in a statewide ballot initiative), and if it passes, I will welcome the revenue," Gaylor Baird said.
Kirkpatrick, who is currently the city's attorney, said his biggest concern with legalizing marijuana is determining when people are driving under the influence of the drug. "But if that's the only challenge, we can overcome it."
Lamm seemed most reserved in her support. "CBD oil seems to help people, but still looking for information and research on the subject."