Ashford Says Experience Key for Mayor
He's been improving the state for 15 years by lowering taxes and creating laws to improve safety and quality of life. Now Brad Ashford says he's ready to do the same for Omaha.
Ashford has served 15 years in the Nebraska Legislature, first elected in 1986 and then again in 2006. He’s split his time this legislative session as chairman of the Nebraska Judiciary Committee and proposing new bills, and pushing hard to be the next Mayor. Ashford's experience and perspective are both unique to the race. He was on the first MECA Board during the Qwest Center construction which is now known as the CenturyLink Center, and leader of the Omaha Housing Authority.
When it comes to saving taxpayer money and making cuts to a budget, Ashford lays out a plan unlike his opponents. He would consolidate City of Omaha and Douglas County agencies including law enforcement, the attorney's office, and the crime lab. Even the Douglas County Board and Omaha City Council would merge into one board with 14 members. Ashford says it would either decrease taxes, or keep rates stable long term.
"Not an awful lot would change on day one, but we would move to this unified board. I call it New Gov Omaha," Ashford explained. "I think we're now at the point in the 21st century that we have to build systems that will move us into the next 50 years.”
The plan would allow cities like Ralston and Bennington to stay independent if desired, and SID's would remain independent until their debt could be consolidated. He says it would create a united front adding it's important for the city to work hand and glove with the state legislature, which he says he'll do effectively.
"Omaha's not an island,” Ashford described. "This idea of bringing together 5 priorities for example that the entire region or metro area has for the legislature is really critical, and that does not happen now."
He says the Nebraska Unicameral model to annually review pensions could work for the local firefighters and police pensions.
"This pension plan is way too underfunded. There needs to be a larger contribution or the retirement age has to go up, that's what we do in Lincoln," Ashford noted.
Ashford's been working on reform for the Nebraska Juvenile Justice System, and improving truancy issues at the state level. He feels those two approaches would work in the fight on crime.
"If a juvenile is working, if a juvenile is in school they're much less likely to commit a violent crime,” Ashford said. "I believe there are many options that haven't been tried."
With all the attack ads and political positioning that takes place at city hall, Ashford says finds solutions by building good relationships.
Senator Ashford has been a registered Republican and Democrat in the past. In December 2011, he changed to Non-Partisan. He says it better reflects who he is as a public servant, committed to the citizens of Omaha, not a party ideology.