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  • Government Affairs Committee Issues Questions To Candidates

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    The Chamber's Government Affairs Committee issued 5 questions to candidates running in contested races for City Council and County Commissioner. Each candidate was contacted with the same set of 5 questions and the opportunity to respond. The questions selected are those that we feel are most important to the Chamber and Development Corp. We will post the responses as we receive them from the candidates.

    City Council Ward 4 Candidates Include:
    Larry W. Campbell (incumbent)
    Tracy Martinez
    Lawrence Ostendorf


    RESPONSES

    Lawrence Ostendorf:

    1. What do you feel is the role of the City/County in economic development?
    A key role of the City/County in economic development is to create an attractive financial package that would make businesses want to establish a presence in North Platte.  The process of building and maintaining new business brings not only short term construction jobs but also long term employment to run those businesses which in turn brings in more people paying taxes and spending money. As already demonstrated in a number of ways, the Chamber & Development Corporation has the financial wherewithal right now to make such things possible. We learned a valuable lesson during our campaign to relocate the Veterans Home to North Platte; while the final decision unfortunately did not go our way, we certainly put forth a gallant effort.
    When a business expresses a desire to come to North Platte we owe it to them as well as our community to work with them in a positive way.  Neither the City nor the County should create barriers that make it difficult/impossible for new business to move in. 


    2.  What do you see as the greatest opportunities for growth in North Platte/Lincoln County?
    North Platte is easily accessible by 3 major highways and we are home to the world's largest railroad classification. Our industrial park already has Walmart and FedEx distribution centers as well as the recently completed Inland Truck Parts repair shop.  Because this site is owned by the Development Corp plans could be put into place very quickly to accommodate another such facility.  A business that services the railroad such as the car repair shops in Alliance and North Port would benefit both North Platte and Union Pacific.  
    On any day of the week a trip through the parking lot at Menards will show an array of license plates from counties all over the state.  Given the opportunity, people will come here and spend their money.  An attractive financial incentive package from the Development Corp could lead to other businesses wanting to relocate to this area. Two examples of this are the tax increment financing (TIF) program which brought Hobby Lobby to North Platte and the quality growth fund was made available to the new owners of what was the Cedar Bowl and is now Wild Bills Wings and Bowling.


    3. What do you feel are the greatest challenges facing North Platte/Lincoln County?
    The greatest challenge is the lack of housing. Great Plains Health serves a 17 county region including Nebraska, northern Kansas and southern South Dakota.  The recently completed $100 million GPWest patient tower allows for state of the art care representing 30 medical specialties.  At this writing there are 95 open positions, 6 of which are physicians and 63 are nurses, the rest being technicians and support staff.  The problem does not lie with the hospital itself because it is a wonderful place to work, the problem is that there is no place for these people to live.
    Secondary to that is the lack of entertainment and shopping.  Who hasn't heard someone make the comment that they drove to 94 miles to Kearney for dinner or to buy clothes or take their children to the Big Apple Fun Center?  We need for those dollars to stay here.  When we figure out a way to bring decent affordable housing to North Platte, the rest will naturally fall into place. 


    4. How do you facilitate a change process to overcome some of these challenges through your elected role?
    As past President and present board member of Habitat for Humanity I've worked hand in hand with the City of North Platte to acquire and demolish some very run down properties and replace them with brand new homes.  By continuing this process through my elected role with emphasis on but not limited to Ward 4 we could start to renovate and rejuvenate some of the remaining properties on which long forgotten buildings currently stand.  The real estate is there; the problems lie with cutting through whatever issues stand between leaving them as is and turning them into areas where builders will want to build and people will want to live.  From my days as Yard Master with Union Pacific Railroad to my current role as guardian and conservator for several individuals I am and have always been a problem solver.  I believe I have the ability to facilitate a partnership with the City as well as private entities so that these changes that are so desperately needed can begin to take shape. 

    5. What are the top 3 things you hope to get accomplished while serving in public office?
    1.  Image is everything.  Presently there are number of properties not only in Ward 4 but in other parts of our city that need to be demolished. I hope to find a way to begin to renovate these areas.  I see this as a very important piece of the puzzle which will make North Platte a great place to live and work thus bringing in more taxpayers.  All roads lead home and without decent homes people will not stay.
    2. With the extra taxpayers that we attract we could expand even further our incentives for other businesses to bring shopping, dining and entertainment to our beautiful city. North Platte can and should be a destination and not just a stop halfway between Denver and Omaha.
    3. Last but certainly not least is the need for a grocery store in Ward 4.  I would like to work towards inviting a business that will give Ward 4 residents an alternative to going across town to shop at Walmart.  


    County Commissioner District 1 Candidates Include:
    Joe Hewgley (incumbent)
    Bob Peterson


    RESPONSES

    Joe Hewgley:
    1. What do you feel is the role of the City/County in economic development?
    Integral part!  A community is either going forward or going backward. There is no standing still because the other communities are not standing still. We all need to work together as a team.

    2.  What do you see as the greatest opportunities for growth in North Platte/Lincoln County?
    Young professionals – we are a very strong blue collar community, i.e. U.P.R.R. We need to bring home our young grads, attorneys, doctors, engineers, etc.

    3. What do you feel are the greatest challenges facing North Platte/Lincoln County?
    Keeping positive attitude with several hundred UP workers out of work and some moving out of the community. Getting South River Road fixed with max leveraging of federal funds and in as short of time as possible.

    4. How do you facilitate a change process to overcome some of these challenges through your elected role?
    Make sure we “Partner” whenever possible: Chamber/DEVCO, West Central Development District, West Central Health Department, Lincoln County Housing Authority, Joint City/County services and efforts. Good zoning to allow for positive growth of business and industry.

    5. What are the top 3 things you hope to get accomplished while serving in public office?
    1. Provide good services, public safety, roads, and mandated services.
    2. Keep taxes in check without cutting services
    3. Continue to partner to see that North Platte and Lincoln County is a place people want to move TO and not FROM with good infrastructure in place and planning & zoning to allow for growth.


    Bob Peterson
    1. What do you feel is the role of the City/County in economic development?
    Lincoln County's role in economic development is to provide a county tax rate that provides residential housing, small business, and commercial investors a more appealing location. Lincoln County's role is to maintain law enforcement, county offices, roads, at the lowest cost and the best value for every resident of Lincoln County. 

    2.  What do you see as the greatest opportunities for growth in North Platte/Lincoln County?
    Lincoln County's best opportunities for growth are small business, agriculture, manufacturing, and housing in that order. 

    3. What do you feel are the greatest challenges facing North Platte/Lincoln County?

    Lincoln County's greatest challenges are job growth, a heavy tax burden.

    4. How do you facilitate a change process to overcome some of these challenges through your elected role?
    Lincoln County needs to change its valuation process to fit Lincoln County. We are not Hall County or Buffalo County. Lincoln County does not have the populations or tax base to draw from. Tax rates and home prices have outraced the present growth rate. Lincoln County needs to adjust to today's needs and local economic conditions better. Better budgeting ad controlled spending will spur more private enterprise, the backbone of our Nation and Lincoln County. Growth can be planned and achieved, one step at a time. Lincoln County is abundant with opportunity, let's get the word out.


    5. What are the top 3 things you hope to get accomplished while serving in public office?
    Reduce spending, increase job growth, and move to five commissioners. 
     
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