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Spencer Short begins his term as mayor

By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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Economic development and regional activity are what Spencer Short plans to tackle as Lincoln’s mayor during the next year. Short replaces Paul Joiner as mayor during next Tuesday’s City Council 6 p.m. meeting. Regional activity Short said he will look at involves transportation, water and wastewater. For economic development, Short said he would like to spend time on “finding businesses to bring to downtown Lincoln and vacant spaces.” “There’s an opportunity right now for economic growth in different locations,” Short said. “We have a lot of vacancies that could be filled in the short-term and over the long-term.” Economic development is important, according to Short, for both sales tax and job creation. “We’ll be targeting businesses over the next few months, reaching out and trying to bring people in,” Short said. “I’ve already been talking with the development staff and we are going to have a weekly outreach session where we will identify businesses and make calls to them.” Short said he would also “enlist other business owners” to reach out to potential businesses “and say Lincoln is a great place to do business.” Short described 2011 as “one of the stranger year periods in Lincoln’s history.” “From some of the more difficult financial issues we’ve had up to and including the tanker fire, there have been a lot of things that have been sudden shocks to the community,” Short said. “The interesting thing is, no matter how strong the shock is to the community, this community is very resilient.” The News Messenger also asked Joiner for his take on his year as mayor. “The first few months of my time as mayor were colored by a particularly heated election and the need to develop the ability for the new council to work together in the best interest of Lincoln despite our differences,” Joiner said. Joiner said his primary goal this year was “to make real progress toward addressing the city’s fiscal challenges.” “We accomplished that by passing a compromise budget, that come January, will be the first truly balanced (no use of reserves) budget in a few years,” Joiner said. “In addition, the council established the fiscal sustainability committee to review the city’s financial problems and present a plan for addressing the short, mid and long term.” Joiner said that plan is due to the City Council in January. The tanker fire and public-services strike delayed the implementation of policy governance, according to Joiner, which was another goal he had for this year. “Additional goals were to improve commercial access to the airport and position the historic downtown to take advantage of opening of the bypass and relinquishment of Highway 65 to the city,” Joiner said. “We’ve made good progress in both of those areas.” Stan Nader and Gabriel Hydrick are the two newest members of the City Council, taking their seats last December. The News Messenger asked Nader and Hydrick how their first year serving on the City Council went. Nader, who served on the City Council in the late 1980s, said this time around has “certainly been different.” “When I was on the council in the 1980s, the Brown Act was around but wasn’t enforced like it is today,” Nader said. “We had a lot more freedom to talk with one another and it made for a much smoother operation because we could talk things out and work things out and our meetings were very short.” Nader said he “understands the need for the Brown Act.” “But it really impedes the functioning of government because there are some things you just can’t say in an open meeting that you can say one on one,” Nader said. “It can change the dynamics of how you work effectively.” Hydrick said he has “enjoyed this opportunity” of serving on City Council. “I’ve enjoyed working with the staff, getting to know them, and working with the citizens and hearing from them,” Hydrick said. “I’ve absolutely enjoyed myself.” Hydrick said what he’s enjoyed most is getting to know Lincoln’s citizens and seeing its “different entities and how they really work together.” “I’ve been impressed by the time, and even financial commitments, that people make to the community,” Hydrick said. There have also been challenges to being on the council, Hydrick said. “The most challenging aspect is that I’m outside my comfort zone,” Hydrick said. “I’ve stretched myself and in doing so my weaknesses have been magnified and they are constantly in front of me.” Hydrick said his weakness is “articulating myself verbally.” Councilman Tom Cosgrove was asked what his goals are for next year on the council. “We are going to have another year that is going to be very difficult for us financially and economically,” Cosgrove said. “The goal is to continue on working to get our expenditures in line with our revenues.” Cosgrove said that would happen through negotiations with the city’s five labor groups and “identifying areas in our budget where we can reduce expenditures.”