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Restaurant head Eric Underwood running for commissioners seat in Lancaster County

(KOLNKGIN)
Published: Apr. 15, 2020 at 12:55 PM CDT
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The following responses have not been edited.
Name (also include name you’d prefer to be called):

Eric Underwood

Preferred political party:

Republican

Current or most recent profession:

General Manager; Rodizio Grill - The Brazilian Steakhouse

Tell us a little about yourself:

I have been married to my wife Keri for 12 years, and we have five children, ages two to 12. I attended Malcolm public schools and graduated from Malcolm High School in 1997. I am a 2003 graduate of the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. I enjoy camping and the outdoors with my family. I play racquetball and love working on old cars.

Why are you running for this office?

I wanted to give back to the community that I love so much, and felt the Lancaster County Board could use some strong leadership from a person who will represent the district and the residents of District 2.

What do you feel are the most critical issues facing voters in Lancaster County?

Today's world has changed dramatically in the last several months. What was most pressing before may have given way to current challenges of personal finances and job security. However, moving forward what issues remain are the ongoing struggles with the county budget and I want to be a strong voice from District 2 on how to address many of the issues facing Lancaster County. Repairing or replacing rural roads and bridges are a top priority for my district as well as giving a defining voice to farmers and agriculture. Lancaster County needs leadership that can be dedicated to vast demographics from Lincoln residents to rural/small towns.

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?

Specifically, the County Engineer needs to be given the resources, personnel, and support to do their job. In reading County Engineer Dingman's 28-page vision for her six-year-plan to deal with the infrastructure challenges, it is clear she has assessed the problem clearly and proposed the best course of action.

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?

High property taxes and subsequent higher valuations are driven by a need to satisfy the ever expanding budgets of all the county government departments. The budgets need to be reviewed, assessed, and gone over with a business-like mentality. Government, at any level, should be a non-profit entity and budgeting and finding ways to come in under budget are one of my strengths.

Do you feel affordable housing is an issue for Lancaster County residents? If so, is there anything you would do to address it?

The current COVID-19 pandemic is making affordable housing a bigger issue for many residents. Even before our current challenge, affordable housing was a concern for many Lancaster residents. We are challenged by being a very diverse county, from a state university and students, to a huge medical field, the home of our state government, to lower income residents. And, outside of Lincoln, we have many small towns, farmers and livestock growers and acreage owners. This expanse of demographics can make it more challenging to find the right balance to care for everyone. It will take focused creativity and attention to the individual concerns of citizens to find the best solution for all.

What other issues facing voters are most important to you as a candidate?

I think addressing property taxes (and taxes in general), the infrastructure of bridges and roads, and balancing economic growth ideas with current housing patterns are foremost on voters’ minds. However, it all begins with a level of leadership at the county board level to refrain from over-spending and having a long-term vision to guide all county officials and departments.

Why do you consider yourself the best person to address the needs of people in this district?

I have a passion for people and focusing on details. I have always found joy in serving a community and growing relationships. Coupling the human element with a business mindset that leans towards efficiency and efficacy from all parts of government, I will put my efforts toward finding solutions. I can guarantee that.

Why is your vision the one voters should choose?

Especially in the current times, leadership at any level needs to be one that can have a clear vision and focus and have the desire and ability to effectively communicate it to all. I have always said it's my job to to be able to find the way to communicate the same thing in 40 different ways, to 40 different people.

How has your experience prepared you for this job?

I have been running/managing and even starting my own business for 20+ years which gives me experience in financial projections and budgeting. My Bachelor of Arts degree gives me the foundation of the human element and communicating with people. I thrive in creating lasting relationships and serving those around me. Also, I belong to three non-profit boards and I have experience working with others to meet goals and communicating solutions effectively.

What separates you from your primary challenger(s)? What about your potential general election challenger?

I do not have a primary challenger. However, as I focus towards the General Election, I am confident that my passion for people and serving my community will far outweigh my opponent. I am driven to find solutions and helping others.

Is there any other message, statement or concern you’d like to address?

County government provides many critical services that people depend upon. Setting priorities, finding efficiencies, and keeping taxes low should be the focus of every county board member. My experience makes me uniquely suited for to meet these challenges.

Lincoln Residents can find their Lancaster County Commission district here, while rural residents of Lancaster County can look here.

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