Five Questions for Legislative District 8

13 Mar
2018 is a legislature election year, and we are going to make an effort to get all the candidates for Nebraska State Senate in to meet our members before the general election. To start us off, we have the term-limited seat of Sen. Burke Harr, LD-8. Harr’s seat is contested by three candidates, (in alphabetical order) Mina Davis, Josh Henningsen, and Megan Hunt. These are our guests for our Coffee Chat — Friday, March 16. at 8 a.m. in our usual haunt, Spielbound, located at 3229 Harney St.
We asked them each Five Questions.

Mina Davis

Mina is 25 years old, a data scientist at Creighton and a community organizer at heart. Mina is also the Vice Chair of Chapter Building for Young Democrats of America, an active member in her local chapter of Young Dems, and the Secretary/Treasurer of Douglas County Farmers Union.

1. What is your preferred mode of transportation?
My preferred mode of transportation is light rail.
2. What, in your opinion, is the greatest challenge to multi-modal transportation in Omaha?
I believe the greatest challenge is getting political leadership on the state and municipal levels to embrace a transportation/infrastructure policies that are innovative and environmentally friendly.
3. What, in your opinion, the the greatest multi-modal success in Omaha?
I believe the greatest multi-modal success is the ORBT bus. I really enjoyed hearing about it and hope to see more projects like this come to fruition.
4. How did you come to have an interest in transportation?
I came to have an interest because I grew up in cities that had fantastic transportation systems. I also at one point did not have a car and to be left in a place where there was not a good infrastructure inspired me to be a more ardent advocate for transportation policies that work for all.
5. If you could magically change one thing about the transportation systems in Omaha, without limit to budget or feasibility, what would it be?
 I would love to have a simple light rail/bus system that was actually on time and could connect all parts of the city. I would love to drive my car less.

Josh Henningsen

Josh lives near Metcalfe Park with his wife Christine and their three kids. Josh served as the President of the Metcalfe-Harrison Neighborhood Association from 2014-2017 and is member of the Education Committee at St. Pius X / St. Leo School. He worked for the Legislature as legal counsel for the Judiciary Committee and the Health and Human Services Committee.
1. What is your preferred mode of transportation?
We have three young kids, so we’re in the car a lot. But I prefer to take a Lyft or walk if I can help it.
2. What, in your opinion, is the greatest challenge to multi-modal transportation in Omaha?
Building support for the up-front investment.
3. What, in your opinion, the the greatest multi-modal success in Omaha?
The BikeOmaha Network, but ORBT looks promising.
4. How did you come to have an interest in transportation?
As President of the Metcalfe-Harrison Neighborhood Association, we thought a lot about walkability and tying our neighborhood into Omaha’s modernizing transportation system.
5. If you could magically change one thing about the transportation systems in Omaha, without limit to budget or feasibility, what would it be?
A functional north-south street system.

Megan Hunt

Megan Hunt is an entrepreneur, activist, and parent who has lived and worked in the Dundee area for the past 13 years. She is passionate about public education, reproductive justice and gender equality, and reducing brain drain in the Midwest. Megan’s work and impact has been featured in dozens of publications including Forbes, INC, The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, the Huffington Post, and others, and she is motivated by her goal of helping others translate their experiences into positive action and change in the real world.

1. What is your preferred mode of transportation?
I really enjoy walking, and one of the reasons I moved to Dundee when I graduated high school was because there are so many awesome things to do without the need to take a car. Over the past thirteen years that I’ve lived here, the midtown community has grown significantly from our businesses to our neighborhood organizations, and the need for interconnectivity in our city is only growing. Improvements are needed to make opportunities to participate in our growing economy more accessible to pedestrians and cyclists.
2. What, in your opinion, is the greatest challenge to multi-modal transportation in Omaha?
I’m inclined to think that one of the biggest barriers is simply lack of information about the transportation options we have in this city, and the lack of infrastructure to support people who DO want to get around the city without a car. Those who don’t travel by car are punished with crumbling streets, long stretches of unwelcoming city blocks without sidewalks, and dangerous roads without bike lanes. These are problems we have to address to protect people, our environment, and to grow opportunity through access to our urban centers.
3. What, in your opinion, the the greatest multi-modal success in Omaha?
I feel like I am always noticing small improvements like an addition of a new bike lane, or signage and maps for pedestrians, or an updated bus stop, or a new bike-sharing station. These improvements may be small, but they signal to Omaha residents that the culture CAN change, and IS changing. I think that the more we see, visually, opportunities in our city to skip the car, the more people will feel comfortable taking advantage of them. Are more drastic improvements needed? Of course. But small developments like this do encourage me.
4. How did you come to have an interest in transportation?
My interest in transportation and my curiosity about how much it affects the quality of life in Omaha was first sparked by my friends. I learned about Mode Shift several years ago through my friend Craig Moody and it’s been through conversations with him and other friends who know about this world that I have learned so much about the opportunities we have as a city to think bigger about the future of transportation. I know that I don’t know everything under the sun, and that’s why I work hard to learn from those who are willing to share their expertise about how to best address the challenges we face for accessibility and growth.
5. If you could magically change one thing about the transportation systems in Omaha, without limit to budget or feasibility, what would it be?
I fantasize about the development of a statewide zero-waste light rail system that connects our rural and urban areas, and eliminates the need for automobiles in Omaha and Lincoln. I spent some time in college working in Berlin, and I was amazed at the efficiency and interconnectivity of the entire country through their train network. I often think about how great it would be to modernize and adapt that to create a system that works for our state, empowering business and industry, attracting new Nebraskans, improving tourism, and protecting our environment. It’s a big dream…but you asked!

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