It’s Worth it For the Free Parking

February 5, 2013 at 3:00pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

The Journal Star ran a piece yesterday about the perks of being on the City Council. The short version: you get $24,000, a parking pass, and some cookies. And getting there will cost you somewhere in the neighborhood of $50,000 to $100,000 and all your free time.

This sort of article catches my eye. I’ve been interested in politics and governance ever since Mr. Bougger’s Civics class back in 9th grade at Pound Junior High; my interest grew stronger under Dr. Larson at Southeast. I even went so far as to major in Political Science at UNL, where I received both a BA and an MA in the field. I came darn close to pursuing my Ph.D. as well. The goal of all that wasn’t necessarily to run for office some day, but it was a possibility in the back of my mind.

In fact, one of the reasons I’ve run Lincolnite all these years—it’s been active in one form or another for 15 years!—is to test my own interest in local goings-on. Clearly my interest hasn’t faded. I love Lincoln and I love being a part of the community. I often wish I would take the next step and become more involved, whatever that might mean.

What really blows my mind is that other people are interested in what I have to say. I have met a ton of Lincolnites via this website, some in person and others merely “virtually”. Several of you have recognized my interest in Lincoln and have asked if I will ever run for City Council. My response is usually to say with a laugh, “Maybe some day”. That remains my answer for now.

But I look at an article like this and I think, “Am I willing to put up with all of that?” I think I am. In fact, I think the whole adventure would be a lot of fun. Two things are holding me up right now. The first is that I’m unwilling to leave The Missus home alone with the kids and the housework while I run for the position. I can’t ditch her like that. Nor do I want to be away from the kids that much. I’m already absent quite a bit because of my soccer reffing. The second thing is that I’m a total outsider. I lack the connections, infrastructure and, let’s face it, the know-how to run an effective campaign. Most of that could be built up with a little hard work, but it also represents the part of the gig I’m least interested in. I want to be me, not a campaigner. Perhaps there are some opportunities there to redefine what it means to be a candidate, but that implies a huge commitment all on its own.

Even if I were to solve those two matters I’m not sure that I would run. Maybe.

I have been asked in generic terms if I would ever be afraid to run for office because of negative campaign strategies. That doesn’t bother me. I know my good qualities, my weaknesses, and the quantity and nature of the skeletons in my closet. I don’t have anything to fear there. I’ve written some cringe-worthy blog posts and, like everybody, I’ve had some embarrassing moments I’d prefer not to highlight. But that’s about it.

I wonder if any of you have ever run (or pondered running) for public office. What made you do it or not do it?

Reply to this post

The Comments

Mr. T February 5, 2013 at 4:24pm

Apparently Dave H is looking for a new partner. Make sure you keep the govt phone plan for business use only.

I think you should consider joining, say, the planning cmmn or a similar body. It would get your feet wet and expose you to the weeds, and be a natural step towards a city council run.

CP February 5, 2013 at 4:47pm

We’ve never met, but I would be pleased to support your political ambitions.

We don’t agree on every topic, but who does? After reading your thoughts here for a number of years (7?) I would feel much more comfortable voting for you than the random names that appear on yard signs and ballots. I know nearly NOTHING about them, other than a political affiliation which may or may not predict future behavior. At least I could feel comfortable that you would have a grounded, thoughtful response to issues facing our city.

I do understand your reasons for hesitating to run. Those would be deal-breakers for me too. Perhaps in a few years you’ll feel more comfortable?

Regardless, I appreciate your ability to filter local news into what is/is not important. It has saved me numerous hours and brain cells reading the Lincolnite first, and scanning a local newspaper when time allows. Thanks!

Mr. Wilson February 5, 2013 at 10:44pm

Thanks for the vote! Tell your friends!

Your voting strategy is similar to mine. I don’t need somebody I agree with all the time because there’s no such thing. I want to vote for people who I feel will represent me reasonably well and who will give tough situations a good think before they act. That’s why I can support guys like Mayor Chris Beutler and Tom Casady. I disagree with them on a lot of things, but for whatever reason I’ve developed a sense of confidence in them.

Fletch February 6, 2013 at 2:17pm

I ponder it from time to time, but wouldn’t want to put my family through it. I don’t think I would enjoy the fundraising and having to ask people for money.

I wanted to run for City Council a number of years ago with one plank in my platform: “Widen the f***ing streets” - I think it would have been a winning strategy. Then for a few years, progress was made - Old Cheney, Pine Lake Road, S. 40th, S 27th, 84th Street ... things were looking up.

Now it seems than in our zeal to cut property taxes, in the last 10 years, we’ve taken too much away from what was going to city streets, all so politicians could pat themselves on the back for cutting taxes. I want lower taxes as much as the next guy, but I think that’s an area where we went too far. Our streets, sidewalks, and trails need more money thrown their way again.

I would also bring up the South and East Beltways at every City Council meeting.

So for these reasons, I most likely won’t run.

Mr. Wilson February 6, 2013 at 2:27pm

I would also bring up the South and East Beltways at every City Council meeting.

Marry me? Er, I mean, Amen!

Joe February 7, 2013 at 6:37am

Silly question here, I’m fairly new to lincoln, I’ve hear plenty about the beltways over the years, but never had the courage to ask what they actually entail, any help?

Scott February 7, 2013 at 1:45pm

Mr. Wilson February 7, 2013 at 2:51pm

Here’s the short version:

There are two beltway projects, but they are closely related. The South Beltway would be built first. It would start near Highway 77 and Saltillo Road, bending to the east until connecting with Highway 2 around 132nd or 148th Streets. That stretch would remove truck traffic from Highway 2 in the city.

The second project is the East Beltway. It would start at Highway 2 and eventually connect with Interstate 80 somewhere near Waverly. That would complete a beltway around the entire City: South Beltway, East Beltway, Interstate 80, Highway 77.

The worst thing about the South and East Beltways is their location—both are too far outside the city, but the eastern portion is especially bad. That cannot be helped, unfortunately; land acquisition costs for anything closer would be astronomical. The beltway SHOULD have been built just east of 84th Street, if only city planners had thought ahead.

The benefits are huge: taking trucks out of the city; opening new and exciting industrial and commercial opportunities; providing traffic connections with nearby growing communities (e.g. Waverly, Hickman); accommodating future growth patterns; and so on. In addition, a properly planned beltway would be accompanied by a greenbelt plan, essentially extending a Wilderness Park-style greenspace around the south and east edges of the city. The long-term benefits to the community are substantial.

That’s my take on it, anyway. It’s possible construction could begin as soon as 2020, though that won’t happen. Construction should have begun in 2000 at the latest. We’re way behind on this one.

Nikkidemas February 7, 2013 at 3:25pm

“I could feel comfortable that you would have a grounded, thoughtful response to issues facing our city.”

Exactly.  You’d have my vote!

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