OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — After a primary in which Danny Begley and Cammy Watkins finished within 100 votes of each other in this midtown-area district, the general is expected to be close.
The two candidates point to their roots in Omaha, both being born and raised in town, as one reason they’d be good councilmembers but plenty separates them.
“I’m a person that’s running on ideas,” said Watkins.
Cammy Watkins, a community organizer, has plenty of ideas on what she believes would make Omaha a more thriving city.
That includes making the budgeting process more collaborative, pushing state leaders to raise the minimum wage and to make Omaha more climate friendly.
“We are already at 40 percent renewable energy and if we can start a plan to get to 70 percent and then 100 percent by like 2050 or so, we can really be moving forward,” said Watkins.
Watkins believes affordable housing is the biggest issue facing Omaha, pointing to a study that shows over half of city residents are able to find quality affordable housing.
“So the housing issue isn’t just for our lower income, section 8 people, it’s our workforce, these are our teachers, firefighters, our baristas,” said Watkins.
Her opponent, Danny Begley, labels himself a problem solver.
“I have a unique skill set,” said Begley.
Begley, a union labor leader who also serves on the Papio NRD Board of Directors, has the support of both the Omaha Police and Firefighter unions.
He says if elected, he’d be a listener.
“I’m not leaving here, this is my passion and my home. What I can bring to the table is I know my community, works with the community, neighborhood groups,” said Begley.
He says while knocking doors, he’s heard plenty on how the streets need to improve.
“I’d keep pushing the staff of the city, the finance department, the budgeting and get that laser focused on fixing that issue because people talk about it but the report card hasn’t been very good,” said Watkins.
The two candidates' views diverge on policing, with Begley saying residents can demand justice while also supporting law enforcement.
“I’m in favor of better policing, well-trained police officers to protect and serve and talking to people at doors, people want their communities protected, they want their families protected,” said Begley.
Watkins says she wants to focus on the root of the problem, which is preventing crime before it happens, while also making sure the end result is justice.
“I don’t think we should stop trauma with more trauma and we have to have a really authentic and genuine adult conversation on that the system of policing right now, is not working the way we want it to work,” said Watkins.
Both candidates are vying to replace Chris Jerram, current council president, who decided not to run for a fourth term.
Begley is a registered Democrat and Watkins is an independent.