Don Ficenec was appointed the new city attorney for Ralston at the City Council’s Dec. 17 meeting.
He will assume the role after former City Attorney Mark Klinker chose to step down from the job after four decades of service in Ralston government.
Ficenec has been involved with law since 1989, when he began his career as a police officer with the Omaha Police Department and began his studies at the Creighton University School of Law school in 1991.
By the time Ficenec graduated law school in the summer of 1997, he was working as a field investigator and went on to work in the homicide unit.
“I liked what I was doing, so rather than quit the police department and practice law I decided to stay on at the police department,” Ficenec said.
Ficenec moved to Ralston in 1999 and in 2013 began full time attorney work at the Law Offices at 7777 L St.
Ficenec said it was about a year and a half ago when Klinker was earnestly considering retirement as city attorney.
“He asked if I was interested in getting more involved in Ralston work and I was,” Ficenec said.
“Over the last year and a half I was gradually doing more and more until he was comfortable to pull the plug and retire.”
Though not partners of a law firm, Klinker gave him work that pertained to Ralston for the rare occasion Klinker needed Ficenec to cover a council meeting for him.
Ficenec is not going into his new role unaware of the inner workings of city government.
He has attended Planning Commission meetings as the attorney for the city and has dealt with various ordinances involving building codes and zoning regulations.
Ficenec said he has also worked on contracts with Klinker, including the contract that handed over management of the Ralston Arena from the city to Spectra Venue Management.
“You think of Ralston as just a little town and you don’t really realize how much is going on and how much is involved until you get involved in it,” Ficenec said.
“Without having had that time to become fully versed on what was going on in Ralston it would have been very difficult to step in.”
Part of what attracted Ficenec to the city attorney role is that he believes that his strengths and interests suit him for the job.
“Being able to draft an ordinance, being able to interpret a contract and being able to work with people, I think those kinds of things are my strengths,” Ficenec said.
Ficenec’s first council meeting as city attorney was Jan. 7.
Although he and Klinker practice law in the same building, they are not part of a single firm but work as independent lawyers.
Despite the independence, Ficenec said he will continue to utilize Klinker’s wealth of Ralston knowledge.
After all, the former city attorney is still right down the hall.