Mayoral races in Gretna, La Vista and Valley feature an abundance of candidates.
Voters in Tuesday's primary in Gretna will choose two of four candidates to advance to the November general election. La Vista and Valley voters will advance two out of three.
All three cities pay their mayors an annual salary for the part-time position; La Vista pays $10,800 per year, Gretna $7,000 and Valley $3,000.
Mayor Sally McGuire ran unopposed in 2008, her first bid for mayor. This time, she will compete with Kip Edmonds, Andy Harpenau and Jim Timmerman.
McGuire believes more people are interested in becoming part of the political process because of the population growth in her city and the county overall. Gretna doubled in size over the last decade and Sarpy County is the state's third- fastest-growing county.
“In the 2000 Census, we were at 2,300, and in 2010 we were at 4,905,” McGuire said. “Plus, within the one-mile zoning jurisdiction, we have an additional 5,000 in population.”
McGuire recently assumed the city administrator's duties after the arrest of Colleen Lawry on suspicion of theft of city funds. Her dismissal followed a review of city financial records by Nebraska Auditor Mike Foley.
McGuire faced criticism from her challengers at a candidate forum. She said in an interview that answering the criticisms has actually energized her campaign.
“It does give you a little kick to get moving,” McGuire said. “It makes you remember why you feel you are the best candidate for the job, and why you work harder to be elected.”
If re-elected, McGuire said, she is most looking forward to the completion of the widening of Nebraska Highway 370 and the economic development that project could spur. She also pledged to continue building relationships with the Sarpy County Economic Development Council as well as the local school district and the chamber of commerce.
Edmonds, Harpenau and Timmerman are businessmen who say Gretna needs closer ties to its business community.
Timmerman said he would use his experience in finance to review the city's strategic plan for attracting large businesses to the community.
Edmonds, who operates Aesthetic Concrete Design, said McGuire hasn't done enough to attract new business — something he thinks could be aided by a reduction in the master fees that were increased by the city in 2011.
“Small-business owners are continuously being pinched,” Edmonds said. “Something needs to be done about that.”
Harpenau, who operates Gretna Sanitation, lives in Springfield but would move to Gretna if elected. He said the current probe of Lawry's spending practices has stained the community.
“The problem is we need to hire good, ethical people who are accountable for their actions,” Harpenau said. “If you do that, it alleviates all sorts of problems.”
Mayor Doug Kindig is joined on the primary ballot by Klaus Lindner and James W. Selders. Kindig, who took over as mayor in 2005 when Harold “Andy” Anderson stepped down, won election in 2008 after emerging from a pack of five candidates.
“Having contenders is OK with me,” Kindig said. “I'm just glad people are interested enough in serving to take the time and file.”
Kindig put development of business along the 84th Street corridor between Harrison and Giles Streets at the top of his to-do list for La Vista.
“La Vista has been held up as a model of how to build successfully by Gov. Heineman and a number of (state) senators,” Kindig said. “Our ability to track and encourage legislation for economic development is respected throughout the state.”
Lindner has run for mayor of La Vista every election since 1998. He said his top priorities “are taxpayer focused.” He promised to cut the mayor's salary by half, seek to privatize nonessential services and reopen city hall on Friday afternoons.
Selders didn't respond to interview requests.
Mayor Mary Caffey also faced two challengers in her 2008 re-election. This year, Caffey will face William Sager and Carroll Smith, a former mayor whom she defeated in the 2008 general election.
“It's a challenging and time-consuming office,” Caffey said. “It's nice to know there are other people willing take on these duties.”
Caffey said she's “really proud” of helping to give Valley a $500,000 public library without spending property tax dollars. Working with the private sector, Valley renovated an old bank building in the downtown area.
“We also have the fastest growing residential development — Millard Landing — in our area,” Caffey said. “Even in the recession, we've found ways to move Valley forward.”
Smith, who lost to Caffey in 2008, said he would focus on Valley's infrastructure.
“I like to keep a safe and clean environment,” he said. “We need improvements on our streets and storm damage while keeping within the budget.”
Sager did not respond to requests for comment.
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