LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) Of the five candidates in the race to become Lincoln mayor, Rene Solc is the only one to have previously run for the office.
Solc, a concrete contractor, said he entered the race to remove bureaucracy, improve city planning and discuss possible solutions to the needs of voters before making decisions.
In the 2015 Lincoln Primary Election, Solc was a candidate for mayor against incumbent Chris Beutler, who Solc said refused to meet with him over an unpaid contract for construction work for the city. Solc placed a distant third in the primary and didn't advance to the general election.
Solc said he is running again to tackle what he calls city bureaucracy and improve planning to stay ahead of growth in the Capital City.
Solc was born in Czechoslovakia and immigrated to the United States in 1969. He moved to Lincoln four years later and spent 30 years in the Army and National Guard.
"It seems like all the candidates always paint a lot of good pictures for the people and what they're going to do for them. A lot of people like promises, and a lot of people think it's happening, but when you make a promise and it's happening, a lot of people get upset. All the candidates are promising what they're going to do. I'm not promising. This could be as cut and dry as it is."
What was your reaction to snow removal efforts in Lincoln this winter and would you do anything differently?
"You divide a city into quarters and you assign those people to maintain that area right off the bat, winter and summer, not just during a snow removal. In the summer time they're patching and in the winter time they go ahead and plow it out and you work all the way out. It does work. Snow removal, for example, if you do not know how to do it, take lessons. Go to Colorado; just go down to Kansas. Why can't Nebraska adopt something from somebody else's bright idea? Because they don't want to."
We received many complaints from 10/11 viewers about potholes and poor road conditions around Lincoln. What is your reaction to the condition of city roads and would you do anything differently?
"You always will have potholes. The reason is, if you do not repair the streets the proper way, you always will have damage to it. You've got to start already looking at the patching holes or sealing it in August and September. Before the rainy season. Once it rains, those guys do not have any reason to be out there, because tar and water does not mix. So, you can seal it all you want, but if that thing is wet, guess what, it pops right back out. As soon as it freezes it pops right back out. If you reseal the cracks you will find out that it will not cure it, but you can slow it down."
Where do you stand on the quarter-cent sales tax increase question that will appear on the April 9th ballot?
"I'm all for it. But let's use what it is designed for. Don't put it anywhere else. They want to put a quarter of a penny on that, but they still want to increase our wheel tax."
Lincoln city leaders said the tax would generate about $13 million a year for a total $78 million for streets over six years.
A concern among Lincoln homeowners is the rise in property taxes. What do you say to residents who have concerns?
"When people start talking about cutting taxes, that budget it already made for that amount of taxes for where it goes. If I'm going to cut your tax off for example, are you as a candidate going to tell somebody, 'Hey, I'm giving this guy a break, but you are going to lose a job.' It's true that maybe some people do need a little bit, kind of eliminating, because they're maybe not performing up to 100% and everything else."
Affordable housing remains a concern for some Lincoln residents. Would you do anything to address that?
"People use affordable housing as something different than low-income housing. Affordable housing, in my book, even when I look at the dictionary, is whatever housing you can afford. That is your affordable housing. Low-income housing, that's a different story in my book. We've got one of the largest organizations called Lincoln Housing, and as of last week, when I talked to the lady, they are about 4,000 units short. That's how much demand there is out there. When you talk about affordable housing, you got over 35, even 40 percent of people who do have houses, but they do not accept Section 8, but they ask for every city break there is. Why?"
How would you address that if you were mayor?
"Look into why. If anything, shut off city support. Are you going to help those people out there? Because here they get help from one side, but they don't want to help out on the other side. Somehow it doesn't add up."
Lincoln continues to expand in all directions. How would you manage and stay ahead of city growth if you became mayor?
""After talking to a whole bunch of people, and every place I go in the districts, they got the crap over here, there's no planning to it. 'Okay, let's put the sewer in, okay great,' two years later, 'Let's put the water in.' Why don't we do it just one time. That way you leave the neighborhood peace and quiet for the next 20 years."
Joining Solc in the race for mayor are city council members Leirion Gaylor Baird and Cyndi Lamm. Other announced candidates include freelance editor and travel writer Krystal Gabel and city attorney Jeff Kirkpatrick.