OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Mark Gudgel thinks his current job as an English teacher at Omaha North High School makes him uniquely prepared to lead Omaha.
“I would imagine I make more decisions before noon than people make in a day, just as a classroom teacher,” said Gudgel.
There’s multiple reasons he decided to jump into the race, but for one, he’s running because of the city’s past handling of the pandemic.
“Our city managed the pandemic as poorly as any city in the United States,” said Gudgel.
While Gudgel said he would’ve used the bully pulpit to urge Omahans to wear masks, and possibly pushed the council to issue a mandate faster, he’s now looking to the future, specifically ending the brain drain, an issue both Omaha and Nebraska are facing in which young, college educated people are fleeing.
“The idea of fighting brain drain is actually baked into every policy that is written,” said Gudgel.
Gudgel said he hears from young people that they want better public transportation.
He said people aren’t riding the bus now, because it doesn't offer enough routes, and takes too long to get to places.
“We don’t have a system of busing that serves people. We can’t be surprised they don’t use it,” said Gudgel.
He’d invest more money into Omaha Metro, if elected.
“We run that thing to the airport and we run it north-south every four blocks between 90th Street and the river and all of a sudden we have a very connected city,” said Gudgel.
He also said the mayor should have been joining the citizens last summer, when they took to the streets to protest the killing of George Floyd, and racial injustice as a whole.
As mayor he would seek more police training and try pilot programs, such as allowing cops to patrol streets in plain clothes with their badges hidden.
“I think we need to probably invest more resources into making the police have what they need to do their jobs more effectively. That may cost money,” said Gudgel.
Gudgel, a Democrat, is climbing uphill in the primary, as much of the Democratic establishment in Omaha, such as former mayors Mike Boyle, Mike Fahey and Jim Suttle, has either endorsed, given money, or both, to candidate RJ Neary.
“Power structures do one thing extremely well and that’s maintain themselves. The people pumping money into that campaign are not interested in the changes I’m proposing,” said Gudgel.
Gudgel took a page from Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s playbook when she ran for president. Gudgel has written lengthy policy plans, including how it’ll be paid for, on his campaign website.
“Respectfully, while we’ve seen a lot of bullet points and platitudes come from some other camps, we’ve been writing policy, we’ve been doing research.”