Mayoral candidates talk racial equity, budgets and more in online forum

Posted at 8:00 AM, Jan 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-25 17:32:08-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — In a time when shaking hands and knocking on doors isn’t optimal, those eyeing Omaha’s mayoral seat are logging on to social media to get their message to the public. A forum hosted by Culxr House and NOISE on Saturday touched on several issues the city is facing.

After a summer filled protests reacting to police brutality, law enforcement’s role in the community is a topic of much discussion. Kimara Snipes said there needs to be more outreach on both sides to find solutions.

“We all have to sit down at the table together," Snipes said. "We have to have these really difficult conversations.”

Many candidates said funds for the police need to be reallocated to social services.

RJ Neary was one of many who believe the city’s budget overall needs more transparency.

“There’s absolutely wasteful spending in our budget and inefficiency," Neary said. "Part of it is playing politics with our services.”

William King said the budget has left out areas of Omaha where marginalized communities reside for too long.

“North Omaha in particular has been left behind from every administration, and so I will look at the budget in regards to equity," King said.

Dawaune Hayes, who is the director of NOISEas well as a candidate, said we need to not only spread resources across Omaha but find more resources in Omaha.

“If you can localize your resources and train up people on how to utilize those resources, then you reduce your overall cost," Hayes said.

Mark Gudgel said Omaha also needs to focus on the future. He plans on having a director of sustainability in his cabinet.

“I have someone always in my ear saying how does what your about to do work with our vision for going carbon neutral, work to fight climate change," Gudgel said.

Also discussed was the use of CARES Act money. Jasmine Harrissays that funding should have done more for those who are facing homelessness or eviction.

“We really need to ensure that housing is a right that is afforded to everyone," Harris said.

According to event organizers, Mayor Jean Stothert was invited to take part in the forum but did not participate. A spokesperson from the Mayor's campaign said that Stothert did not receive an invitation.

Watch the full forum below.

The primary election for mayor will be on April 6.

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