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The race for Nebraska's fifth district

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Posted at 6:44 PM, Oct 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-02 19:44:46-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — State Senator Mike McDonnell, the former longtime fire chief for the city of Omaha, is seeking another term in the legislature.

McDonnell, who left the fire department in 2013, represents District 5, which contains parts of south Omaha and midtown.

He prides himself on how he’s able to work with other senators and compromise to get things done.

He was one of seven senators, who negotiated late in the session this year to pass a bill that lowered property taxes, gave out business tax credits and set up state financing for a large-scale UNMC project.

“Cause there were people with different backgrounds, of course different party affiliations, but nobody was acting like that, they were talking about, how do we solve a problem,” says McDonnell.

McDonnell is a registered Democrat in the nonpartisan legislature.

If re-elected, he is looking to pass the Workforce Diploma Act. The bill that would allow those that didn’t graduate from high school a chance to get their degree, and other skills training.

He believes it would help businesses across the state find employees.

“So maybe John Doe wants to be a welder. At the same time we’re working on getting you your high school diploma, we’re going to work on all three of these areas. So then the business community knows, if somebody makes it through this program, they’re ready to go,” says McDonnell.

After a flurry of protests this summer, police accountability is also likely to come up this coming session.

While the exact bill is unclear, McDonnell says he wants to have management, the public and unions be present when an officer is accused of wrongdoing.

“If a police officer makes a mistake, that police officer should have due process. And they should have rights under their bill of rights in their collective bargaining agreement,” says McDonnell.

His opponent, Gilbert Ayala, a Republican, did not respond to multiple calls and texts for an interview.

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