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Omaha City Council District 2


Ben Gray

Party: Democrat

Victoria Wagner

Party: Democrat

Dennis J Womack

Party: Democrat


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[CONTACT CONNECTIONS] Information about making contact with the candidate.

Ben Gray

Contacted by constituent.
Incumbent
2/17/17, 1:50pm, spoke in person, emailed access code.
3/2/17, 3:57pm, left message at work
3/2/17, 4:52pm, candidate returned call, said would find previous email.
ANSWERS SUBMITTED March 3, 2017, 7:04 p.m.

Provided by candidate:
Ben Gray
2518 North 24th Street
Omaha NE 68110
Phone number (402) 315-8069

Did not answer Nebraska Right to Life (http://nebraskarighttolife.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/NRTL1704_Local_Candidate_VG.pdf)
Did answer League of Women Voters (http://omahalwv.org/files/vg-2017-lwvgo.pdf)

Victoria Wagner

Candidate has not submitted an answer.

Dennis J Womack

Candidate has not submitted an answer.

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[BIOGRAPHICAL] Please include biographical information, e.g. family members, affiliations such as church and/or professional groups, employment, etc. you consider important for voters to know. You may also reference your website.

Ben Gray

I was born and raised in Cleveland Ohio. After high school I joined the United States Air Force in September of 1969. I am a Viet Nam veteran. I was permanently stationed at Offutt Air Force Base in May of 1970. In July of 1973 I started working for KETV television. I eventually became a reporter/photographer (later a photojournalist) and producer of the public affairs show Kaleidoscope. The show ran for 30 years. I was elected to the city council in 2009 and re-elected in 2013. I am married to my wife of 25 years Freddie J. Gray who is a former president of the Omaha Public School Board. We have 7 children and 12 grandchildren. I am on the board of Our Healthy Kids Alliance and a member of the Empowerment Network.

Victoria Wagner

Candidate has not submitted an answer.

Dennis J Womack

Candidate has not submitted an answer.

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[MOTIVATION/QUALIFICATIONS - CITY] A. List three (3) immediate needs you want to address in this office. B. List three (3) long-range planning goals you would envision for the city. C. What makes you the right person to address these needs and goals?

Ben Gray

I want to continue to spur investment in North Omaha thereby providing more jobs that people in my community will have access to. I also want to continue our efforts to address problem properties and slum lords who prey on our most vulnerable citizens. In addition I want to further develop our "Step Up" summer jobs program for youth.
I want to continue working on making our police and fire departments more diverse. I want to put more money into addressing those who have been chronically unemployed. I also want to further develop our municipal land bank.
I have the experience, the contacts and the work ethic to get things done. My record will reflect a long list of notable accomplishments.

Victoria Wagner

Candidate has not submitted an answer.

Dennis J Womack

Candidate has not submitted an answer.

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[PERSONAL STORY] Please briefly describe a situation where you had to stand alone for what you thought was right when the momentum was pushing the other way. For example you may want to discuss when your personal views didn’t agree with your peers, an authority in your life, a donor, a lobbyist, etc. What was the result?

Ben Gray

When I introduced and finally passed the Equal Employment ordinance that gave our LGBTQ citizens the right to be safe and secure in their work places and public accommodations.

Victoria Wagner

Candidate has not submitted an answer.

Dennis J Womack

Candidate has not submitted an answer.

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[CONSTITUENTS ISSUES] If elected to this office, what will be your guiding philosophy in dealing with conflict between your thinking and your constituents’ views? A. Will you vote your conscience even when a majority of your constituents disagree with you? B. How will you measure the voice of your constituents? C. When you can’t make up your mind, to whom will you go for advice? D. Describe your intended methods of availability to constituents.

Ben Gray

Engaging in conversation to resolve differences when possible and agreeing to disagree without being disagreeable when we can't find middle ground. I will always attempt to seek middle ground when we disagree.
A. Yes.
B. Not sure I understand the question.
C. It depends on the issue. I will seek out experts first and other knowledgeable individuals or entities.
D. My council office and I intend to have an office in the community as well.

Victoria Wagner

Candidate has not submitted an answer.

Dennis J Womack

Candidate has not submitted an answer.

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[YOUR COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT] As a resident of the city, list any volunteerism, activism, or committees/commissions where you have served the city.

Ben Gray

The African American Achievement Council. The Empowerment Network. Our Healthy Kids Alliance. The NAACP. Step Up summer jobs. The Omaha/Douglas Building Commission. The Land Bank board. "Impact One" gang intervention organization. 360 Violence Prevention organization.

Victoria Wagner

Candidate has not submitted an answer.

Dennis J Womack

Candidate has not submitted an answer.

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[CRIME] Describe the recommendations you picture for decreasing gang violence, managing traffic property crimes, and identifying “white collar” crime.

Ben Gray

These are issues where police/community relations can be a big help. Citizens along with a diverse police department are best eyes and ears to prevent the crimes you have mentioned. There are a number of organizations dedicated to addressing overall crime. Some I have mentioned earlier.

Victoria Wagner

Candidate has not submitted an answer.

Dennis J Womack

Candidate has not submitted an answer.

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[TAX RELIEF/CONTRACTS] As always, property tax is an issue, especially when the county changes assessed property values. What can the city do to cut expenses and therefore provide some relief? How will/do you assure that contract work is performed according to standards as a way to save “redo” expenses? For example, some have suggested that potholes are a result of paying the lowest bidder and getting the least quality work.

Ben Gray

The city has cut so deeply that many of our departments are not as efficient as they could be. We always look for ways to cut expenses but we need to be realistic about what it actually costs to run city government. We question any and all change orders when they come up. That is why we also require bonding for companies we do business with. If they don't perform we can pull their bond to pay for work with if it was not done or completed.
We don't bid out pot holes for the most part. That work is done by city workers. By the way, we added 17 more workers to Public Works Department because they didn't have enough workers to do a proper job for our citizens.

Victoria Wagner

Candidate has not submitted an answer.

Dennis J Womack

Candidate has not submitted an answer.

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[IMMIGRATION-CITY] Though commonly considered a federal issue, what responsibility do you see the city holding concerning undocumented immigrants? What is your view on sanctuary cities?

Ben Gray

If they are caught in the commission of a crime or are suspects in a crime the police have an obligation to notify the proper authorities. Our police however should not be in the business of chasing down undocumented workers.
I am a strong supporter of sanctuary cities. We need to remember that the only people in this country who are NOT immigrants are the Native Americans. The rest of us came from somewhere else.

Victoria Wagner

Candidate has not submitted an answer.

Dennis J Womack

Candidate has not submitted an answer.

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[CITY SERVICES] Detail the potential value and/or limitations of the idea of consolidating city employee health plans.

Ben Gray

Because of the number of unions we as a city have to negotiate with it is difficult to consolidate health plans. Each union comes at it differently depending on their members. All of our plans should have the goal of keeping costs down while providing reasonable health care for our employees. Continuing to monitor costs is something we stay on top off.

Victoria Wagner

Candidate has not submitted an answer.

Dennis J Womack

Candidate has not submitted an answer.

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[TIF] Some see TIF (Tax Increment Financing) serving economic development by giving new business locations a “break” on paying taxes to the city by paying gradually over time. In your opinion, how and when should TIF be used? Is there an overall amount that you think should be the limit for TIF for the city?

Ben Gray

TIF should only be used in areas of redevelopment.

If I understand the question it depends on the project.

Victoria Wagner

Candidate has not submitted an answer.

Dennis J Womack

Candidate has not submitted an answer.

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[PUBLIC/PRIVATE] Discuss what you would do to assure transparency and accountability for entities in public and private partnerships.

Ben Gray

It depends on the entity. Some partnerships have proprietary information that, if were made public, could put the city at a disadvantage. Other entities as well as the city has an obligation to provide maximum transparency and accountability. Each public/private partnership must start with being as accountable as possible.

Victoria Wagner

Candidate has not submitted an answer.

Dennis J Womack

Candidate has not submitted an answer.

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[ABORTION-LEGAL] Would you define yourself as pro-life or pro-choice? Under what circumstances should abortion be legal?

Ben Gray

Pro-life.

That issue should be left to care givers and the person or family involved.

Victoria Wagner

Candidate has not submitted an answer.

Dennis J Womack

Candidate has not submitted an answer.

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[“MARRIAGE”-O] Should city taxpayers pay the benefit costs associated with same sex spouses? Why or why not? Do you support the city’s equal employment ordinance? What is your understanding of the ordinance?

Ben Gray

Taxpayers should provide the same benefits to same sex spouses as with heterosexual spouses.
I introduced the Equal Employment ordinance so yes I support it.
It provides for LGBTQ citizens the right to feel secure in their work places as well as with public accommodations.

Victoria Wagner

Candidate has not submitted an answer.

Dennis J Womack

Candidate has not submitted an answer.

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[ANYTHING ELSE?] Declare anything else you want voters to know about you.

Ben Gray

I am strongly committed to the re-development of North Omaha and a prosperous Omaha in general.

Victoria Wagner

Candidate has not submitted an answer.

Dennis J Womack

Candidate has not submitted an answer.

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