OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — While he’s never served in elected office, RJ Neary said his experience as a real estate broker and his service on the Omaha Planning Board will allow him to immediately start fixing Omaha’s affordable housing problem.
“We need to make use of the existing housing we have and make sure that it is not substandard and that it is stabilized, clean, safe,” said Neary.
Neary said he’s looking to add housing inspectors and change the inspection law passed a couple of years ago that doesn’t penalize the good landlords.
“I would like to simplify it and work towards 4-5 years, changing it, but we got to solve the problem, and use what we got. Let's hire the right number of inspectors, probably two or three more inspectors, making it more efficient,” said Neary.
Neary also has an eye towards the future in transportation, saying he’d intensely look into adding a streetcar and making sure the city bus system is more robust, saying it’s something those seeking jobs are looking for.
“Connect our city to all parts, because we have a lot of people that can’t get to the job in southwest Omaha, because of the transit. It takes too long and it’s cumbersome,” said Neary.
Neary also said he hears from voters that streets that the buses and all vehicles use are crumbling.
He believes if we use the right companies, materials, and design, it would end the cycle all Omahans are familiar with.
“It’s the pothole, patch, pothole, patch, circle that we’ve all lived in,” said Neary.
Neary, a Democrat, also says he wants to think differently on policing. He believes the Omaha Police Department has largely done a great job, but has had some major issues dealing with the use of force.
He says he wants to bring innovation to the department, adding in a social services element that he said isn’t there now.
One example he cites is a man experiencing homelessness downtown.
“That’s a perfect social service call right there. It wasn’t unsafe. The person needed to get somewhere though and get off our streets and get in a safe spot,” said Neary.
If elected Neary said he would listen to the experts at UNMC in regards to issues like a mask mandate and hire a COVID czar to coordinate a recovery.
He also wants to use five percent of the city’s restaurant tax and put it towards the Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“Let’s just jump-start, let’s not just wait and see what happens, let’s have a plan and move forward," he said.
Neary also has plans to make a climate action plan for Omaha, something the city currently does not have.
“We need to leave our city better off for the next generation in a cleaner way, said Neary.