LIBA hosts Lincoln mayoral debate

Posted By: Lauren Fabrizi

Mayor Chris Beutler, Lancaster County treasurer Andy Stebbing and political newcomer Rene Solc squared off in a mayoral debate at a LIBA luncheon Monday.

Up first was the issue of a new 911 public radio system for the city. Stebbing said the $20–million system should be put in place without raising taxes.

“Much less than $20 million,” Stebbing said. “I’ll slowly upgrade the system, rebuild the system over four to five years.”

Mayor Beutler argued: “If you don’t vote for it now, Mr. Stebbing needs to tell us where he’s going to come up with that $20 million if we don’t have it in this particular bond issue.”

“All that his suggestion does is kick the can down the road,” he continued.

Up next for debate was whether Lincoln needs more law enforcement.

Stebbing said yes. He quoted public safety director Tom Casady, saying we need about 80 new police officers.

“We are short handed on cops,” Stebbing said. “I’ll do it through efficiencies, I’ll reprioritize the budget to hire cops.”

Solc didn’t agree.

“Why do we have to do 80 cops, are you kidding?” he asked.

Solc said given Lincoln’s population size, officers should be gradually added.

In response to Stebbing, Beutler rebutted crime has gone down by 30 percent since he’s been in office. He said there’s more to public safety than solely the number of cops.

“Every city has a different complex of law enforcement,” Beutler said. “In Ferguson, they have 2.5 officers per capita. In Lincoln, we have 1.2, it’s much lower. But which is the safer city? Lincoln by far. Ferguson is burning.”

11 questions total were debated over the span of about an hour. Others topics included what should be done with the Pershing Center, the idea of relocating fire departments and roads among others.

Lincoln’s primary election is April 7 and the general election is May 5.