Inform yourself before you vote on Tuesday, May 14th and please support candidates who support transportation options in Omaha!
Below is our analysis of candidates’ answers to questionnaires and their track records.
You can read Mayor and City Council candidate responses to the questionnaire we sent to candidates (in collaboration with Omaha Bikes). And other groups that have asked transportation-related questions:
Mode Shift Omaha supports expanding transportation options for everyone in Omaha, to improve quality of life and better serve Omaha residents, but also to improve health and enhance environmental and fiscal sustainability.
To this end, both of the Mayoral candidates say they support in one way or another expanding transportation options in Omaha and generally agreed on most areas addressed in our questions.
Stothert writes that she sees the value in providing more transportation options and its importance to serving citizens and addressing safety and congestion, but for the most part seemed see these as an addition, if “reasonable and affordable,” to the existing (car-centric) system. It should also be noted that she voted against the Transportation Master Plan update. Suttle, while acknowledging cars will remain the dominant mode of choice for most people, takes what seems to be a more system-wide perspective in that he articulated a “complete streets” or “balanced network” approach to address pressing transportation needs, including congestion, safety and street improvements as well as to make Omaha more attractive to new talent and meeting the mobility needs and desires of citizens. This is in line with the goals of the Transportation and Environmental Element of the City’s Master Plan.
For City Council candidates in District 1, both Pete Festersen and Ed Truemper express support for inner city multi-modal transportation and improved connectivity. However, Festersen supports the Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator position while Truemper does not. Truemper also does not support high speed intercity passenger rail or the City Parking Manager. Overall, Festersen seems to have a more nuanced perspective on the need to shift to a more holistic transportation system and what it will take to get there. He also has a track record of supporting multimodal transportation issues, including voting for the Transportation and Environmental Elements of the city’s Master Plan and championing the Dundee Streetscape redesign, which maintains a pedestrian and bike-friendly focus (albeit with more parking).
In District 2, there is no information available in any of the questionnaires for candidate Tariq Al-Amin. In his response to the League of Women Voters, Ben Gray is clearly supportive of multimodal transportation, including bike lanes and rail. He voted for the Transportation Master Plan update.
In District 3, both JR Jasso and Chris Jerram, express support for a mode shift in Omaha in their response to the League of Women Voters. Jerram also voted for the Transportation Master Plan update, initiated a “Ride the Bus to Work” day in 2012, and has generally been supportive of multimodal transportation issues. He is a regular attendee at Mode Shift’s monthly transportation coffee chats. One thing to note is his support for a change in the Capital Improvement Plan that shifted funding away from a project to improve the S. 24th St corridor for bicyclists and pedestrians in favor of 16th Street improvements.
In District 4, Garry Gernandt voted for the Transportation Master Plan update. He was also vocal in opposing the proposed ordinance banning pedicabs during the College World Series. Jacob Perasso told the League of Women Voters he favors a larger Public Works department to build and maintain infrastructure. His list of priority projects do not include active transportation or public transit.
In District 5, Jeff Moore responded to the League of Women Voters that while he does not support a trolley system, he favors bus rapid transit to improve transit. Moore also indicates he is a novice cyclist and would support connected bike lanes and bike trails. Rich Pawl’s response to the League of Women Voters indicates transportation options need to be available to all citizens and that all proposals must be closely scrutinized to assure fiscal responsibility and maximum impact.
In District 6, Phil Klein did not respond to our questionnaire, but indicates in his League of Women Voters response he appreciates the need to plan for all forms of transportation. Franklin Thompson provided responses to our questionnaire suggesting he is supportive of improving public transit, with the goal of improving traffic flow. However, he voted against the Transportation Master Plan update and indicates that more analysis and input from west Omaha residents is needed. He also suggests he is not fully committed to maintaining the Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator position.
In District 7, Tim Lonergan provided responses to our questionnaire, writing he believes the city should promote the use of active transportation and would support the Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator position. He responded to the League of Women Voters stating he would follow the approved Transportation Master Plan update but also take citizen input on changes that need to be made. His response to the Green Omaha Coalition questionnaire indicates his top transportation priorities are smooth roads and pothole repair. Aimee Melton indicated support for improved bike, pedestrian and transit options in her response to the League of Women Voters, specifically stating that Metro Transit needs to be expanded so that all citizens have access.