LCEA 2019 Spring, Primary Canidate Responses
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(Southeast - District 2)(Northwest - District 4)(Southwest - District 3)(Northeast - District 1)
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QUESTIONSCyndi LammLeirion Gaylor BairdMegan StockRichard MeginnisJames HerroldTammy WardColton ZamrzlaJane RaybouldJames Michael BowersTaylor Wyatt
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Q1. Although the City Council is non-partisan, greater partisan politics can constrain the work of the City Council. How will you work with other Council members, the administration, and City staff to avoid partisan politics?I believe that governance works best for the people when the leaders involved work together to form agreed upon, worthwhile goals, and thereafter make decisions through the lens of those goals and in an environment of transparency. My administration will include and value the views of all council members early in major decisions that will come before council. We will cultivate a culture of mutual respect and value and avoid a culture of urgency that may cause distrust. I will have council members included in the formation process of the budget rather than responding to a budget presented to them after it is completed. All too often now the city council finds out about major decisions the day they are announced. Sometimes council members may not even find out before announced in the media. My goal will be to work with the council and department heads to develop a culture of mutual trust by operating with transparency to enable maximum collaboration and understanding of goals to advance legislation and make major decisions always with the safety and best interest of Lincoln’s residents and businesses in mind.As your councilwoman, I have worked across party lines on everything from Open Data to Recycling to the Safe and Successful Kids Initiative. Avoiding partisanship requires a willingness to compromise. I have time and again worked to find common ground even when my colleagues and I have come to an impasse, and my commitment to bipartisanship has generated many unanimous votes of the Council. As mayor, I will continue to seek the best available advice from city staff and work with the Council to find the best outcomes for our city.Regardless of political party, I want to work with everyone who is willing to help improve Lincoln.No AnswerOne of the reasons I'm not a registered Republican or Democrat is because I don't care for the partisanship those major parties display. Having gone to almost every city council meeting for the past year, I've been able to build relationships with the council members. If elected, I will be an independent voice on the council, vote based on my principles, and not have to worry about being beholden to the party bosses/platforms of the two major parties.Her response: "I have been very busy campaigning with canvassing, phoning and forums. I won't be able to complete your questionnaire, but thank you for checking."His response: "I’ve been deliberating on the questionnaire you provided, and I’ve ultimately decided that it would be best to sum up my answers in a separate email. It appears to me that many of the questions are leading and have biased stances at their core, which doesn’t lead to an open discussion nor to productive problem-solving conversations."

So, in general, I would describe myself as moderate: someone who will use logic and science to form my decisions, not deferring to partisanship. I think it is apparent from our KZUM interview and other public responses I’ve provided that I’m thoughtful, empathetic, and never too proud to be proven wrong. I enjoy learning, and if I’m provided a compelling argument backed by sound data, I will change my mind.

My goals for my time in office are transparency and efficiency. The public deserves to know where their money is going, and they deserve a government comprised of individuals committed to being good stewards of the peoples’ tax dollars. There aren’t any hidden agendas, and I’m not using this as a stepping stone for higher office. Lincoln is my future, and I’ve chosen Lincoln as my home. Thus, this bid for City Council is an investment in my future, my home.
No AnswerNo AnswerNo Answer
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Q2. How will you work to enhance the public’s trust in City government?In a word: Transparency. I am committed to restoring people’s confidence and trust in city government.

This commitment requires developing an atmosphere of true transparency both inside and outside of city hall. Lincoln residents and businesses should feel confident that elected leaders do what they say they will do, when they say they will do it, and use resources provided by the people and businesses of Lincoln in a responsible and transparent manner.

As Mayor, I will lead city government with policies of openness: Open books, an Open Door, and an Open Mind.

Open Books: I understand that when the city spends money, it is taxpayer money. Elected officials have a sacred obligation to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars and each taxpayer should be able to hold leaders accountable everyday—not just on Election Day.

As Mayor, I will put into place a transparent system that will enable Lincoln residents to track a dollar “in” to a dollar “out” when opening the people’s check register online; to view monthly revenue & expense figures, the recipients of tax dollars, and to view an easy to read Debt Summary, much like done in other cities in the United States.

Open Door: I will have an open-door policy that includes listening to the public and city workers. I intend to seek counsel and critique from the residents and businesses alike, through town halls and other meetings and to invite input and dialogue with individuals, businesses, and organizations in the community, as well as with city staff.

Open Mind: I recognize that the people are the sovereign—the founders, funders, and determiners of what is good and right for their city. Lincoln deserves leaders, who listen, rather than dictate, who serve alongside rather than order and micro-manage, and who say to individuals, families, developers, and businesses with new ideas and important concerns “how can we help it happen?” rather than “we won’t let you do that.” My administration will be committed to that ideal.

I will commit to coming to at least one of your meetings each year.
We must provide the public with as much information as possible and show that we are working in their interests at all times. The bipartisan Open Data initiative that I co-authored and co-sponsored with former Councilman Fellers provides the sort of transparency in government that engenders public trust. I also work to educate the public via social media on the topics before the council so that there is an awareness of current city issues — keeping citizens informed about how our city is functioning and how their tax dollars provide value to our community.
Collaboration is particularly important in developing trust. I envision bringing community members, business leaders, and stakeholders with varying perspectives together literally around a table to help my administration navigate the challenges we will face together. Cities gain momentum when residents unite around a shared priority. Strong partnerships among visionary business leaders, a supportive City Hall, and committed citizens play a key role in Lincoln’s trajectory of success.
One step I’ve taken is to not accept campaign donations from corporate and business political action committees (PACs).No AnswerI will work for transparency. For example, I will work on transparency on budget issues. The way the budget is published now, it is hard to tell exactly where the money is coming from for most items. How much money in the StarTran budget, for example, comes from property taxes, sales taxes, federal grants, state grants, user fees, advertising on buses, etc? It is broken down somewhat, but often we see revenues listed as "transfers" or "fees", but it's tough to tell where those transfers are transferred from or for what the fees were charged.No AnswerNo AnswerNo Answer
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Q3. Currently, the City and County have a number of interlocal agreements regarding government services. In addition, they have the following joint departments: Health, Human Resources, Planning and the Information Services Division of Finance. Do you believe there are other departments in the City and County that could be combined for greater efficiency and cost savings? If yes, please identify the departments, divisions and agencies and explain how you would work to implement such changes.Yes. We should always be open to fostering efficient collaborations and perhaps even combination of departments or divisions for maximum impact, efficiency, and benefit to the public. As an initial matter, we should develop a Technology Plan for the city, utilizing the talent of in-place staff combined with talent found at our University and Technical schools. By identifying the needs of each department, with an eye towards the maximum interaction and synergy as measured by the technology plan, we can discover the most common sense and vibrant partnerships for agencies and departments. This could mean combining departments like Planning and Urban Development.We have a responsibility to search for greater efficiencies and cost savings in our government. As a former Planning Commissioner, I realize the value of the Planning Department being a joint agency, as our thinking needs to be broad for smart growth. In consulting with Human Services staff who have expertise with the Juvenile Justice system, I became convinced of the value of consolidating the City and County Attorney’s juvenile caseloads for the youth and families involved. That said, further consolidation of city and county departments would require more comprehensive analysis to determine the costs and benefits. There are significant challenges to consolidation, including statutory restraints on the use of resources, different governing bodies, different service standards, and the balance between application of resources between the city and the outlying areas of the county. There are practical difficulties that must be examined on a case by case basis. Consolidation does not necessarily mean lower costs or better services.At this time, I don’t have others in mind.No AnswerAny time we can create efficiencies by combining services, we should seriously consider it. Before taking action, however, I would always want to take the input from the directors of those departments to better understand why joining departments might not be a good idea. With interlocal agreements, it's good to know there are public hearings on such proposals so we can have the opportunity to hear from the public, too.No AnswerNo AnswerNo Answer
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Q4. Do you believe that certain government services should be outsourced or privatized? If yes, please explain which services you’d like to see privatized.At this time, the only outsourcing I would foresee would be to supplement current city services. An example would be our snow removal operations and road maintenance, potholes included. I would look at bringing in private companies to supplement our city workers.I do not see a need to privatize any city services at this time.At this time, I don’t have others in mind.No AnswerYes, I do. We see today, for example, that private companies have been contracted to help repair the potholes in our roads. Privatization is the best way to keep competition in the market to keep quality up and cost down.No AnswerNo AnswerNo Answer
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Q5. Have you been endorsed by the Lincoln Independent Business Association? Have you received campaign funds from LIBA? If yes, how much? (We ask this question as their PAC has the reasources to often influence elections)No. I am not endorsed by LIBA and I have not received any campaign contributions from the organization.No, I have not been endorsed by or received any funds from LIBA.No and no. I did not seek a LIBA endorsement and I did not seek LIBA funds.No AnswerYes and yes. To date (3/27/19) the campaign committee has received contributions of $5,000 from LIBA.No AnswerNo AnswerNo Answer
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Q6. Do you think it is good public policy for the long term to take one-time funds or user fees (i.e. building and safety, parking funds etc.) to cover budget shortfalls?I do not believe we should take money from those funds to fill a budget shortfall. My first effort to fill any shortfall would be by managing the budget and prioritizing needs over wants.Finding sustainable funding for city services is essential for the long-term health of our city. One-time funds can function as a stop-gap measure until long-term revenues can be identified, but we must always be looking forward when developing our budget. This is why I have worked to eliminate structural deficits in our budget at every step.It depends on the fee and who the “user” is. For example, I support impact fees in which real estate developers have to help offset the cost of their developments’ impacts on city services. But user fees that hit average citizens tend to be regressive taxes and I generally do not support them.No AnswerNo, I do not believe that is good policy. If it is an emergency situation and we have a true budget shortfall, then we have emergency reserve funds we can tap into.No AnswerNo AnswerNo Answer
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Q7. The population of Lincoln has grown by approx. 13% during the last decade and the square miles of the City has grown by 11+% during the same time period while the City workforce has been operating at lower than optimal levels since the 2008 downturn. Assuming that Lincoln’s growth would continue on this trend, do you believe that City services can be maintained over the next four years with current staffing levels and budgets?No. One of the things I believe we must do is a top to bottom review of each department in city government to make sure we have the right people in the right positions. I believe such a review might show that our city government is top heavy. If so, I would like to direct those resources to the “boots on the ground” workers.Keeping pace with Lincoln’s growth is an overarching challenge for our city government. Along with natural growth in population and deliberate growth through annexation and construction, we’ve seen how other factors like the Emerald Ash Borer, the requirements of the Police/Fire pension, and fluctuations in revenues like the Telecommunications tax place pressure on our budget. It is hard to imagine that city services could be maintained over a four year period with current resources — at a certain point, you aren’t doing more with less, you’re doing less with less. This is why I’ve advocated for budgets that grow our city without growing structural deficits.
In past budgets, I have supported modest revenue increases that address these needs. I have also identified budget efficiencies and redirected them to our priorities. Additionally, I would seek alternative resources - like the What Works Cities grant. Staff should be involved in any changes to services we provide.
Population increases tend to necessitate increases in government expenditures.No AnswerThere are some services that will have to grow as the city expands, for example, fire services, because as the city limits stretch farther, then we'll have to get emergency services closer to those residents. Some services we will not have to expand necessarily due to population growth - we will have to adjust how those services are utilized.No AnswerNo AnswerNo Answer
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Q8. Do you believe in data-driven policy and solutions? If yes, how would you use it to further inform the community? If not, what metric do you use?I believe information and knowledge are powerful tools. The use of data can make our city government and operations much more effective and efficient. The metric would be based on each individual issue. A city-wide technology plan would help us gather and make the best use of data.I absolutely believe in data-driven policy. This is why I worked to get a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities and helped to implement their approach in our city. I also worked on a bipartisan solution to making our city data more easily accessible via the Open Data initiative.Data, whether quantitative or qualitative, can be informative and ought to be among the variables considered.No AnswerYes, I believe in data-driven policy and solutions, and I will always make sure that any reporting or other data that I use to help make decisions on the council is entered into the public record when something goes on the agenda so the members of the community have a chance to see it, digest it, and speak about it in the public hearings.No AnswerNo AnswerNo Answer
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Q9. An old saying is 'don't judge another until you've walked in their shoes'. In that regard, if a budget reduction requires a loss of employment, how will you walk in an employee’s shoes prior to your decision?As mentioned previously I will look at every department in city government to make sure our workforce is distributed appropriately. My goal, should we determine there are positions filled that can be better allocated in another area, will be to make this transition through attrition appropriate reassignment, if feasible. I’d also like to add that I would literally like to walk in employees’ shoes. Recently I tried my hand at filling a few potholes. I wanted to see what workers had to deal with on a day to day basis. I intend to be very hands-on as Mayor.Many city staff will attest that I dig into details before making final decisions. People are what make our government work. They are not a line item to be cut carelessly. They are institutional knowledge and a wealth of ideas that can and do make our city work better.I think it’s important to talk to those who would be impacted before making decisions.No AnswerI do empathize with folks who lose their public jobs when public budgets are cut. I also empathize with folks who lose their private jobs (or those whose job opportunities are never created) because of ballooning public budgets that require tax increases which takes money out of the private sector.No AnswerNo AnswerNo Answer
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Q10. How will you empower employees to innovate?I love this question! I want feedback and ideas from the men and women doing the job in service of our residents. My Snow Removal Task Force proposal includes a member who plows snow. I will have an open-door policy that welcomes and even encourages input and feedback. Our city workers are very knowledgeable in their areas and from this can come great ideas to do the job better and with cost savings. Incentives work.In policy discussions with city staff, one of my favorite questions to ask is, “If you could waive a magic wand and get the results you want, what would they be?” City employees have experience and expertise – they know how things can be better. Asking them to articulate improvements and innovative approaches they’d like to explore is key. Encouraging employees to identify best practices from other cities is another important approach. I loved seeing how city staff seized the opportunities they had to collaborate with consultants from What Works Cities to think about how best to utilize data to drive decision-making. Whether it is greater access to data or access to the political will to get things done, I will work hard to support the efforts of our city employees.I would encourage employee innovation by being open to communication. If a city employee had a great idea on how to improve Lincoln’s government, I would gladly consider it.No AnswerI will empower employees to innovate by not micromanaging and encouraging them to share their ideas. In almost every organization, the best ideas come from the bottom up and not from the top down.No AnswerNo AnswerNo Answer
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Q11. Since a number of City employees are exempt (only paid for 40 hours per week) but consistently work more than 40, do you believe that they should be in some way compensated for their work, or should additional employees added to City workforce to help alleviate them from consistently having to work more hours?We must have a sufficient workforce to serve the needs of residents. That said, sometimes that means additional employees need to be added, but other times, a few more hours worked by current employees will meet the need, or outsourcing may be the answer. Requiring employees to “consistently” work more hours should indicate a problem in need of a solution. I am open and willing to explore and consider all possibilities when doing the top to bottom staffing and efficiency evaluation of each department.All employees should be paid fairly for the work they do. If working beyond expected hours is a consistent rather than occasional occurrence, we should review our staffing model and make revisions to practices.I believe it’s neither wise nor fiscally responsible to burn out quality employees.No AnswerPart of having a salary as opposed to an hourly wage is the understanding that there will be times where you're working more than 40 hours per week. I am an exempt employee and consistently work more than 40 hours per week. It's part of what I signed up for. I believe they are already compensated for their work and can't say I support, in general, hiring more employees because current employees have to work more than 40 hours per week. It will have to be examined on a case-by-case, department-by-department basis.No AnswerNo AnswerNo Answer
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Q12. If federal funding for city functions are reduced or eliminated (i.e. CDBG, HOME, transportation funding, parks funding, health funding) – would you support increasing city revenue to fulfill those services at the local level? If yes, how would you gather community support? If no, would you detail your thoughts on the subject?Raising taxes is always a last resort, and only after every other option has been exhausted. Revenues can be increased through proper priorities that facilitate dynamic growth that pays for itself, reducing the need for federal dollars in certain instances. If we get to that point, I believe it would be easier to introduce the public to policy changes that, if made, would allow the city to grow revenue without putting additional burden on the hard working residents who have built and paid for the city that Lincoln is today. One point I will make is that with the acceptance of federal funding comes a number of requirements (strings). We must understand these requirements and always consider and understand what the impact would be if we were to lose the funding once in place.Our budgets are tight, and each service would need to be analyzed alongside competing needs. I’ve been supportive of increasing city revenues when justified — even if not politically expedient. I will continue to make decisions based on the needs of our city and to advocate for those needs with other city officials through social media, public meetings, and press events.I am an advocate for a strong Lincoln. If federal funds are reduced, we will find a way to keep Lincoln moving forward.No AnswerThe system of Federal and state redistribution of tax dollars to municipalities is convoluted, frustrating, and demonstrative of the leviathan we've allowed to be created. If Federal funding is cut for a health program, for example, we will have to see the specifics of the cut. Were taxes also cut? Was the budget for that program sent to other parts of the Federal budget, or was it sent to the states? Or was it eliminated altogether to offset a tax cut? These are all questions we will need to have answered on a case-by-case basis to determine if we will need to adjust our city budget.No AnswerNo AnswerNo Answer
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Q13. Employees are delineated by job classification; however many often complete many tasks outside of their job duties in addition to their primary responsibilities for a variety of reasons (i.e. staffing levels, classifications not being upgraded in some cases for decades, increased work loads etc.) How would you propose the city and the unions come together to do a deep audit to understand our staffing/compensation packages to encourage educated, innovated, long term employees? If you disagree please elaborate why.I believe I have answered this with my top to bottom review of every city department. I would gladly seek input from the unions on what we need to do to address these issues. As part of this I would like to make sure our job classifications accurately reflect the duties of that position.City employees’ workplace satisfaction and productivity are linked, and they make a difference in the quality of services delivered to our residents. As mayor, I will be committed to understanding what duties and responsibilities are needed to fulfill our city’s mission and to aligning those with appropriate compensation within the constraints of our city budget. I want to encourage additional professional development opportunities for city employees, and as employees develop additional skills and take on new roles, compensation levels will have to adjust. As a Council member, I have been supportive of both individual and group reclassifications.I am a public school teacher and a proud LEA union member. I would advocate that the city and unions work together to move forward in a spirit of cooperation.No AnswerI encourage people to work outside of their job classification. It's a good way for folks to show how valuable they are to their organization. It's also a good way for each individual who steps outside of her primary role to grow and pursue opportunities that interest her. Any constraint on that (whether through union contracts or other entities) stifles innovation and increases inefficiencies.No AnswerNo AnswerNo Answer
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Q14. Other communities have explored paid family leave for civil servants for the birth or adoption of children. Being a larger employer in the community would you support leading the business community by example and advocate for this opportunity by implementing this within the city?I would certainly be open to looking into this to see how feasible it would be for the city. I also know there are proposals on the Federal level that could help address paid family leave.As a mom, I know how much energy and love go into those first few months after bringing a new child into our lives, and I believe the city should show our employees that we appreciate and encourage a positive work-life balance. As a graduate student, I wrote my master’s thesis on family leave policy and would be interested to explore how the City might implement such a policy while continuing to budget responsibly.I support paid family leave for full-time city employees.No AnswerEvery employer, public or private, offers a compensation package with differing perks. Before committing to paid family leave for city employees, I would need to know what the package entails (i.e. length of leave, specific purposes, etc), how much it is going to cost, how much it is going to save (e.g. by cutting down on attrition), and how necessary it is in the job market to make city jobs attractive to talented employees and potential employees.No AnswerNo AnswerNo Answer
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Q15. We leave this space for you. If you would like to share anything that you believe will better educate our represented civil servants, associated family, and partners we welcome your thoughts.I’d like to thank you for the work you do and your family’s support of that work. The one thing I want you to know is that my door will always be open to you. I would like to be partners as we work for a safe, prosperous, and vibrant Lincoln, where every individual and business has opportunity to succeed. I would appreciate your support.For me, offering my service as Lincoln’s next mayor is about family. My parents were public school teachers, and they taught me that a career can be dedicated to improving the lives of others. As a mom, I’ve spent a lot of time focused on how to keep my three children safe, provide for their basic needs, give them a great quality of life, and ensure they have the same opportunities as anyone else for a bright future. As a former Planning Commissioner and your City Councilwoman, I have a twelve-year track record of delivering on these same priorities for all of our children and families in Lincoln. As mayor, I will continue to work to ensure our public safety; to invest in the basics, like streets and sidewalks; to maintain our neighborhood parks, trails, pools, playgrounds, and libraries so essential to our quality of life; and to address affordable housing.I am running for city council to make a better Lincoln for everyone. Moreover, I believe city employees should be fully appreciated, respected, and compensated for the great work they do.No AnswerI'm an independent-minded person who has a set of specific principles. I try to be as upfront with what I believe as possible so people know what they're getting ahead of time. I'm not beholden to "politics as usual" or partisanship. I do what I think is right based on my careful analysis of situations, data, and testimony from citizens and experts. If you would like to know more about me, you can visit my website jamesherrold.com, call me at 402.413.5290, or send an email to me at james@jamesherrold.com.No AnswerNo AnswerNo Answer
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