By Nicholas Sauma, Reporter
The race toward Omaha’s mayoral primary is well under way. Currently, the field features three Republicans-Jean Stothert, Dan Welch, and Dave Nabity; the incumbent Democrat, Mayor Jim Suttle; and Brad Ashford, an Independent.
Ashford, a state senator, is no stranger to Nebraska, having graduated from Westside High School, and gotten his law degree from Creighton University in 1974. He has served in the state legislature since 1986. He also served as director of the Omaha Housing Authority, and owned and managed the Nebraska Clothing Company from 1985-2007.
Ashford has been both a Democrat and a Republican in his history, and explained his switch to the Independent party.
“I made a conscious decision to do so because the best way to govern is from the center,” Ashford said. “Additionally, I don’t want the focus to be on partisan conflicts, but on issues, and I want being Independent to send the message that I’m willing to work with anyone.”
Currently, Ashford has been in the news as the co-sponsor of Gov. Dave Heineman’s tax proposal that would eliminate the income tax in the state and broaden the sales tax instead.
“Doing this will help keep retirees in state, increase investments by businesses and individuals, and ultimately increase everyone’s earnings,” Ashford said.
If elected mayor of Omaha, he would like to continue working with the state legislature, negotiate with those in manufacturing industry who are concerned with the sales tax-only proposal, and decrease property taxes.
Another common, yet contested issue is the merging, whether completely or partially, of Douglas County and the City of Omaha.
“I’ve introduced bills on the subject,” Ashford said. “It’s an issue I would want to pursue as aggressively as possible. It will require leadership and transparency, the people’s consent, and a plan.”
For those unfamiliar with the issue, Douglas County and the City of Omaha have many separate services, and it has been a common proposal to merge them into a unified government.
“As Mayor, I would like to have a significant role in education,” Ashford said. He described ways to shrink the Omaha Public Schools board down to nine members, and stressed his desire to expand career academies in Omaha.
“By working with community colleges, like Metropolitan Community College, we can get 10th graders into relevant, career training, as an alternative to a four year university degree,” he said.
Ashford has been involved with UNO historically, including working to get the Civic Auditorium for UNO hockey games and helping connect students with jobs. He hopes to visit campus during the mayoral campaign to allow students to get involved in the race, which suffers from low voter turnout.
For opportunities on how to get involved with Ashford’s campaign, visit www.bradashford.com.