Leirion Gaylor Baird was elected as Lincoln’s next mayor on Tuesday. She will serve as the chief executive of Nebraska’s second-largest city, home to the State Capitol as well as the all-important Memorial Stadium.

Gaylor Baird, 47, an at-large member of the Lincoln City Council, made public safety, infrastructure and quality of life the focus of her campaign.

Gaylor Baird, a Democrat, defeated Republican Councilwoman Cyndi Lamm in the race to replace Democratic Mayor Chris Beutler, who was term-limited.

Gaylor Baird started her career as a management consultant and worked as a city budget and policy analyst and director of an enrichment program for low-income children. In Lincoln, she served on the Planning Commission before joining the City Council in 2013.

Leirion Gaylor Baird will be sworn in May 20. (Her first name is pronounced LEER-ee-on.)

The World-Herald asked her about her plans for the Mayor’s Office.

Q. Now that you’ve been elected mayor, what will be your first task once you’re sworn in?

A. Assembling our leadership team at City Hall. I just announced a great hire for the position of chief of staff in County Commissioner Jennifer Brinkman. She has invaluable experience, broad knowledge of the issues and an ability to get things done that will serve our city well. I am excited to partner with her to make life even better for all who call Lincoln home.

Q. You originally grew up in Oregon and attended Yale before arriving in Nebraska 17 years ago. How do you think that outsider’s perspective shapes your view of Lincoln?

A. I chose Lincoln as my home nearly two decades ago because of the kind of life my husband and I could build here for our family. As mayor, I plan to prioritize initiatives that will help grow Lincoln’s economy and make us a more welcoming and inviting place to those who are considering making this city their home.

We need a workforce that wants to stay here or move here. We need a workforce that chooses Lincoln. I want to ensure that this good life I’ve found here is available to others so that they make the same choice, so that they choose Lincoln, too.

Q. How do you hope the city will change during your four-year term? How do you hope it’ll stay the same?

A. On election night, we heard Lincolnites say with a resounding voice that we want our city to keep moving forward on this amazing path, a path that can create opportunity for all our citizens.

As mayor, I will work to ensure public safety, make improvements to our streets, address affordable housing concerns, and maintain our parks and trails and other neighborhood services. As our city grows, it’s important that we protect and enhance the quality of life we know and love in Lincoln.

As we move forward, I hope to advance new partnerships and innovations that make life better for Lincoln residents.

Q. Lincoln will soon start taking in new sales tax money dedicated to streets. How will that process get started? When can people expect to see better streets?

A. The issue here is about improving our streets since they are critical infrastructure that drive economic growth, create jobs, improve safety and contribute to our quality of life.

Our first step will be to establish the Citizens’ Advisory Committee and develop a plan for deploying the resources beginning in spring 2020 (revenue collection begins October 2019, and we will be using a pay-as-you-go model).

We are committed to concentrating the vast majority of the new dollars on neighborhood streets. We will do all of this in a fair, transparent and mindful way that fairly distributes projects so that all areas of the city benefit.

We look forward to gathering additional input from City Council members and also from the public through open houses in each quadrant of the city.

Q. What is your favorite thing about Lincoln?

A. I love the people here in Lincoln and the sense that anything is possible!

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Reporter - Politics

Roseann covers politics for The World-Herald. Before she came to The World-Herald in 2011, she covered politics for the Springfield, Mo., News-Leader. Follow her on Twitter @roseannmoring. Phone: 402-444-1084.

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