The day-to-day operation of the Metropolitan Utilities District has a direct impact on most Omahans through their natural gas and water usage.
The board of directors that guides MUD therefore has a direct and important impact on Omahans' budgets. So Omahans have the responsibility to elect informed, pragmatic and effective candidates to that board. Two candidates best exemplify those qualities.
Dave Friend, an incumbent, former mayoral candidate and Omaha Police Department retiree, understands in depth how the utility works and how it is financed; he has often proved his ability to grasp the technical intricacies of natural gas and water operations as well as the policies that underlie them. He has made sound, rational decisions and recommendations to board members. He also has creative ideas about expanding the use of natural gas to fuel vehicles.
John S. McCollister, a 30-year board member who took time away from the MUD board to run for the state Public Service Commission, has extensive knowledge of and experience in MUD's natural gas and water programs. Now director of the Platte Institute of Economic Research, he said he believes MUD needs closer scrutiny of its expenses. He said he will try to get the federal government to give MUD more time to schedule needed improvements at facilities such as the Florence water plant, giving MUD and its ratepayers a more manageable payment schedule.
The MUD board faces challenges in its water operation as well as rapidly expanding opportunities in the marketing of natural gas. It requires board members who can make good decisions for ratepayers.
Dave Friend and John S. McCollister are best qualified for the job.