Rick Hoppe, former chief of staff for former Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler, said he is prepared to serve as Ralston’s City Administrator.
After serving as chief of staff in Lincoln, Hoppe made a brief stop in Council Bluffs to serve as chief of staff to the mayor, decided that it was not the right fit and afterwards took some time off to find the right position for him on the market.
“I wanted there to be a good fit, that what I bring made sense to the community and that I could help them be successful,” Hoppe said.
Hoppe said he met Mayor Don Groesser and several City Council members and had a positive impression of them and the things they were trying to get accomplished.
“They seemed like a group of people that had a strong vision for the community,” Hoppe said.
For Hoppe, one of the main draws to work in Ralston was the Hinge Project.
“This could potentially be a $200 million project,” Hoppe said.
He said the Hinge Project is an opportunity for Ralston to set up its future and make sure that future residents want to live in Ralston.
“A project like that is a really big deal in the city of Lincoln, Nebraska,” Hoppe said.
“I can imagine what a big deal it is in the city the size of Ralston.”
Hoppe pointed out similarities between the goals of Ralston’s Hinge Project and the goals of the Pinnacle Bank Arena and the west Haymarket development project, which came to fruition in his time on Beutler’s staff.
“The idea was to have the arena (Pinnacle) connected to the rest of the retail commercial areas in the downtown,” Hoppe said.
“It was an idea to get more housing in an urban area to attract the next generation of professional workers.”
He said Lincoln built internally to try to reduce the strain of its infrastructure.
“Ralston from a practical perspective has to do it because it’s landlocked and so you got to go up instead of going out,” Hoppe said.
He said the similar challenges of both projects led him to believe he could help Ralston accomplish its goals.
“Having the arena itself is one thing,” Hoppe said, “but having the right amenities around the arena is another.”
He said the connection between 72nd and Main Streets is important in drawing people to the local stores and restaurants surrounding the arena.
With the Hinge Project, there is also the matter of the arena’s finances, which Hoppe said are going to be an important focus.
He said the arena appears to be going the right direction financially under Spectra Venue Management.
“The city administrator’s role in all of this is to say, ‘Look, what do you need and how can we be supportive of your goals for the arena?’” Hoppe said.
Hoppe also wants to hold people accountable for the goals they set using data and spreadsheets.
This data-driven approach has been Hoppe’s bread and butter method to city government for years, he said.
“I did a lot of work in data-driven government for Lincoln and developed their system for performance management and how to use data to improve performance,” Hoppe said.
“You can’t be a slave to the data but at the same time you have to recognize what it’s trying to tell you.”
Hoppe said he is grateful for the opportunity to help develop Ralston.
“I want folks to know that my door is always open and I hope people come by and feel comfortable enough to call or see me if they have things they would like to see happen,” Hoppe said.
Hoppe has spent most of his life in Lincoln. He graduated from Lincoln Southeast High School and attended the University of Nebraska—Lincoln, where he received a political science degree in 1989.