‘We need new leadership’: Lincoln’s republican candidates for mayor discuss their plans

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – The Lancaster County Republican Party held a forum Friday night for Lincoln voters to get to know their mayoral candidates.

The Lincoln Police force and water resources were two of the main topics of discussion at the event.

“If I had to pick out one thing as the overarching issue that needs to be addressed in order for us to advance and grow in a healthy way, a productive way, it would be that we need new leadership, and that’s why myself and Suzanne are sitting before you tonight,” said Stan Parker, one of the two candidates in attendance.

Nebraska Sen. Suzanne Geist spoke about her concerns regarding the police department.

She was endorsed by the Lincoln Police Union in January.

“In a typical year, we’re going to lose 16 officers,” Geist said. “Last year, we lost 41. If Stan or I took office today, we would have to hire 206 police officers for us to be to Grand Island standards, and that’s 1.5 officers per thousand.”

Geist also talked about how leadership in the department needed to be more focused on retention, which is something Parker agreed with.

“I would love to see us be in a situation as a city where we have leadership in the police force,” Parker said. “Because at the end of the day, you’re only going to retract and retain officers if you’ve got a healthy, life-giving culture in that space, and that starts with a leader.”

The city’s current mayor, Leirion Gaylor Baird, recently proposed a second water source that would utilize the Missouri River, a plan that would cost over $1 billion.

However, an alternative option was discussed at the forum where Lincoln would partner with Omaha for water resources.

Both Geist and Parker were in agreement on the topic.

“The Omaha choice, though cheaper, it puts us second to Omaha and we could find ourselves in a challenging situation where we don’t have water,” Parker said.

Geist said should she be elected, her primary goal would be to improve Lincoln’s business market.

“Lincoln has so much potential,” she said. “It has so much room to grow. And Lincoln needs a leader who will cast that vision, who will lead that vision, who’s willing to collaborate with people with different ideas. Because that’s what will make our city thrive and grow.”

Channel 8 did reach out to Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird for comment on these topics but did not receive a reply.

Leirion, along with city council candidates, spoke about sustainability issues at a forum on Thursday. Both Geist and Parker did not attend the forum.

The primary election for mayor is April 4 and the general election is May 2.

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