Tuesday, April 9, 2013, is the Primary Election for several local government entities. Click HERE to see / get the Official Sample Ballot.
This article focuses on one of the candidates for the three at-large City Council seats – Roy Christensen – on Tuesday’s ballot – for an explanation, read note1We decided to focus our research on the three Republican candidates for office because time was very short. We’re no different from other voters; we’re busy and want more information before going to the polling place. We needed a quick “filter” to narrow our focus due, simply to the short fuse. Of course, we started with our principles (click here to read about them ) and then considered recent actions/non-actions by the City Council, and finally the political landscape..
In preparing to vote in Tuesday’s election, we found basic background information about each candidate from a variety of sources, which includes the candidates’ campaign websites, their mailers, and from news stories. We found that several important issues had not been covered in any of those sources and decided to make efforts to contact each of the three.
BASIC BACKGROUND and Additional Information:
- See the embedded image (bottom of this article), which is a mailer sent out by the Lancaster County Republican Party
- Application for vacant City Council seat, filed November 12, 2012 (includes much biographical information)
- April 2, 2013 interview on KLIN radio
- Candidate profile page on Lincoln Journal Star website
Video posted on candidate website:
Facebook Page (Mr. Christensen informed us that his Facebook page gets updated more regularly than his website.)
OUR CONTACT WITH THE CANDIDATE – ACCESSIBILITY:
Roy Christensen has a campaign office phone number clearly listed on the footer (bottom) of his website, which is to a cell phone he carries with him. He answered immediately and welcomed the questions posed. He noted that if he were elected to the City Council, he will simply use the same method of accessibility for constituents as he has for voters.
Q & A
Notes about the format of the questions and answers as presented here: The three policy issues which we, as voters believed were important, are contained within the teal boxes. Notes regarding the rationale for asking about each issue appear below that box, in bold font, as do any additional questions asked of the candidate on that particular issue.
The narrative explaining the answers are not verbatim quotes from the candidate, but our best attempt to accurately summarize statements based on notes and recollection.
While expression of our philosophy is unavoidable in explaining our questions and their bases, we did NOT do so in writing about the candidate’s position. It is our deliberate decision to simply convey the sentiments of the candidate without comment, whether we agree with them or not.
Rationale behind the question: Two of the three candidates (Trent Fellers, Mark Whitehead) have campaign literature which features the direct statement, “I will not vote to increase taxes”. Roy Christensen’s campaign material featured the statement, “We need to hold the line on taxes”.
(Is such a blanket statement a good idea? Let’s just say, we’re skeptical on the subject.)
Mr. Christensen went farther on the subject than we’d read, by explaining that he will not vote for tax increases. He believes tax increases can be avoided by the appropriate prioritization and allocation of current tax dollars. To illustrate his thinking he provided an example:
The City’s Wheel Tax, he explained, has been mis-allocated. Those dollars are currently put in the City’s General Fund. The original purpose was street maintenance and, therefore, those dollars should be removed from the General Fund, and their original allocation, restored.
Obviously, if those dollars are re-allocated, a gap would occur somewhere. So, the question is: How to deal with the gap? That means tough decisions about cuts.
Note: The section, below, was updated on April 13, 14 and May 4.
We received some feedback from Roy Christensen regarding this article, asking for a correction about something he believes we misinterpreted regarding the specific topic of tough budgetary decisions.
According to notes made during the call and the verbal review shortly thereafter, what Mr. Christensen said, was: ‘tough decisions about budget cuts, library and pool crowd, original purposes for libraries was…, people can buy books, 60% of library users do so online, new technology…’
What we wrote: “Mr. Christensen noted two areas which should be cut: libraries and pools. He elaborated on his thinking about libraries…”
In reviewing our notes, we realize we made a conclusion, based on Mr. Christensen’s comments that he did not specifically state. We apologize to our readers and to Mr. Christensen; our intent was and is to accurately reflect candidates’ positions and provide readers with the opportunity to draw their own conclusions. We should have let Mr. Christensen’s words speak for themselves. A follow up question about his intentions regarding libraries and pools would have been appropriate.
Fortunately, an April 15, 2013 article published on Nebraska Watchdog features a section about this subject and includes direct quotes from Mr. Christensen regarding what he said to us with some additional explanation. Rather than merely using one brief quote, we recommend readers read the section in its entirety at the Watchdog site (Note that the section about Mr. Christensen appears about half way through.).
Mr. Christensen believes an example of appropriate allocation and prioritization of funds can be seen in the decision to consolidate Lancaster County and City of Lincoln health services, which he asserted, saved significant amounts of money. He believes there could be additional consolidation of City and County resources to reduce spending and avoid tax increases.
Two potential consolidation opportunities he suggested were County and City Engineers and County and City Attorneys.
Regarding the Attorneys’ positions, Mr. Christensen pointed out what he sees as a problem that exists with the City Attorney: the City Attorney is not elected, but appointed, and very often, when such positions are filled by appointment, the appointee ends up serving the official, not the people. The County Attorney is an elective office.
When asked if the City’s handling of the Occupy Lincoln’s long-term camping on the Centennial Mall in violation of numerous ordinances2 The Occupy Lincoln issue was one we amply covered. See, especially, “City Attorney Re: Occupy Lincoln: Double Standard, Double Talk” and “Occupy Lincoln: Tipi Smokes and City Ordinances Burn”., was a problem he was thinking of in conjunction with his statements regarding the City Attorney…
Mr. Christensen said that he was not thinking of that issue specifically, but noted that it is an example of problems with the way the City Attorney conducts business.
Rationale behind the question: The referendum petition drive, which garnered many more signatures than required by law, had two legal effects: 1) the ordinance voted on by the City Council could not go into effect and 2) the City of Lincoln is required to put the ordinance on a ballot so Lincolnites may vote on it. Nearly a year later, no vote has been conducted.
Mr. Christensen believes the City Council has not handled the referendum issue correctly and that they are currently violating the law.
He elaborated further, noting that he is against the ordinance itself, because:
- The City Council forced it through in an effort to stifle debate.
- The issue is bad public policy because it’s a state, not a local matter.
- He personally believes it is immoral.
Rationale behind the question: Please see our page dedicated to this issue, which includes many links to previous articles and other sources of information.
Mr. Christensen doesn’t believe City policies in this area are appropriate, primarily because many aspects manifest themselves in the areas of zoning and planning, especially in building codes, and in ways that…
1) Encroach on fundamental property rights
2) Increase the cost of starting up and running business
He noted that such policies as building codes were originally designed to ensure basic public safety. Rather than an emphasis on safety, building codes, zoning, etc., are increasingly used as tools of political ideology.
Mr. Christensen agreed that certain City positions and expenses, such as the Sustainability Director position which pays $90,000 salary per year, could be eliminated, because they are unnecessary and simply exist for the purpose of implementing sustainable development policies.
Scanned image of Lancaster County Republican Party mailer about the three Republican City Council Candidates:
References & Notes [ + ]
|1.||↑||We decided to focus our research on the three Republican candidates for office because time was very short. We’re no different from other voters; we’re busy and want more information before going to the polling place. We needed a quick “filter” to narrow our focus due, simply to the short fuse. Of course, we started with our principles (click here to read about them ) and then considered recent actions/non-actions by the City Council, and finally the political landscape.|
|2.||↑||The Occupy Lincoln issue was one we amply covered. See, especially, “City Attorney Re: Occupy Lincoln: Double Standard, Double Talk” and “Occupy Lincoln: Tipi Smokes and City Ordinances Burn”.|