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Omaha City Council District 7


Aimee Melton

Party: Republican

Brian Thommes

Party: Democrat


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

Aimee Melton

Contacted by constituent.
Incumbent
3/14/17, 9:45am, made connections through work number.
3/14/17, 3pm, emailed code to work connection.
3/15/17, emailed to verify code received, replied verifying received 12:41pm.
3/17/17, 4:24 pm, reminder email with 3/21/17 deadline
3/19/17, attempted to "tag" reminder on Facebook
3/24, 3:58pm, left FB comment
4/1/17, 2:48am, emailed to inform that League of Women Voters answers were not recorded correctly.
4/15/17, 11:49am, text message,
4/17/17, 10:30pm, reminder email
ANSWERS SUBMITTED April 18, 2017, 10:53 p.m.

Also answered Nebraska Right to Life (http://nebraskarighttolife.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/NRTL1704_Local_Candidate_VG.pdf)
Also answered League of Women Voters (http://omahalwv.org/files/vg-2017-lwvgo-general.pdf)

Brian Thommes

Contacted by constituent.
3/14/17, 9:49, left message on home number
3/14/17, 3pm, emailed code
3/15/17, 11:31am, emailed a response to his request for a meet and greet
3/17/17, 4:24 pm, reminder email with 3/21/17 deadline
3/19/17, attempted to "tag" reminder on Facebook
3/24, 4:00pm, left FB comment
4/11/17, 11:36am, left message on home phone.
5/4/17, 5:26pm, office texted to ask permission to post partial answers given
5/5/17, 3:36pm, candidate texted he did not remember what all he had written
5/5/17, 8:23pm, constituent texted a follow up providing access to previous answers

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-general.pdf)

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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.

Aimee Melton

My family moved to Omaha when I was five years old. I received my bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska, and my law degree from Creighton University. After serving as a Deputy Douglas County Attorney in the Domestic Violence Unit, my passion for helping children and families propelled me into private practice, where I continue to focus on family law. Today, I work as the managing partner of Reagan, Melton & Delaney, LLP.

With my husband, Scott, I am the proud mother of three wonderful sons. Our family attends St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church.

Brian Thommes

Information provided by the candidate to the Douglas County election office: High School: Roncalli Catholic. College: University of Nebraska Omaha, University of Phoenix Degrees: General Studies, Masters of Management. Religious Affiliation: Catholic. Church: St. Patrick's. Professional Associations: QuikTrip. Civic Groups: OGLBT Sports League.

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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?

Aimee Melton

My short-term goals:

1. Further reduction of crime rates and emergency response times across Omaha, and the addition of the West Omaha police precinct.

2. Reducing the tax burden on Omaha families and businesses.
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3. Making additional investments in road improvement and resurfacing.

My long-term goals:

1. Creating a more growth-friendly tax and regulatory environment, and securing the fiscal future of the city through pension reform. These steps will attract additional investment and new jobs to the city, and will secure a more prosperous future for our kids.

2. Modernizing and expanding city services, including Bus Rapid Transit and waste removal service, to meet the increasing needs of our growing city.

3. Completing more strategic annexations that expand Omaha’s tax base and enable further tax rate reductions.

As a former domestic violence prosecutor, I entered office with a unique perspective on public safety and crime reduction. Over the last four years, I have expanded my knowledge of every facet of city operations, and I’ve worked with constituents and leaders across the city, of every background, to get things done. My personal and professional background, along with my dedication to fiscally responsible leadership, uniquely positions me to accomplish these goals for our city.

Brian Thommes

No answer given.

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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?

Aimee Melton

A majority of the City Council wanted to establish a land bank in Omaha. I was deeply concerned that the introduced ordinance could result in violations of the property rights of Omaha landowners. I extensively researched the issue, and, working together with my colleagues, we were able to amend the ordinance to strengthen protections of property rights, while still allowing the city to resolve issues involving abandoned properties. I voted for the amended ordinance because I believed it was a necessary tool for the City of Omaha, but this vote disappointed many of my supporters. In the end, the ordinance was enacted, and I believe it is better for the changes that earned it my support.

Brian Thommes

No answer given.

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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.

Aimee Melton

As a City Councilmember, I often have to make difficult decisions that not all of my constituents agree with, but listening to the wide range of views in District 7 is extremely important to me. Before I make a decision, I want to hear all relevant viewpoints, which is why I am so active in attending neighborhood homeowners’ association meetings and other community forums. I believe my views are reflective of the majority of my constituents, but I’m not afraid to make an unpopular decision if I believe it is right for our district and our city. I believe that most of my constituents are fair-minded, conscientious people who understand that my decisions are made for the right reasons.

I am dedicated to being accessible and present in the neighborhoods I serve. I welcome my constituents’ calls, emails, and social media messages, and am fortunate to interact with many of them face-to-face at the many forums and events I attend in the district throughout the year. I am lucky to have a wide network of engaged constituents, experienced professionals, and caring friends on whom I can rely to give me honest opinions and feedback, and I call on their experience and perspective when I am facing a particularly challenging decision. At the end of the day, however, it is my vote, and I am accountable to constituents for every vote I cast.

Brian Thommes

No answer given.

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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.

Aimee Melton

In addition to my four years representing District 7 on the Omaha City Council, I serve on the Civilian Pension Board and the Omaha-Douglas Public Building Commission. I am also a former member of the Domestic Violence Council. As a private citizen, I am an active volunteer with the St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church and the Essential Pregnancy Services Auxiliary.

Brian Thommes

No answer given.

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

Aimee Melton

Over the last four years, we have aggressively fought crime by investing in new resources, adding additional officers, purchasing new cruisers and upgrading equipment, and building new facilities, including the Southwest Precinct. We have additional investments planned for the near future, including a West Omaha precinct and additional officer hiring. We will continue to provide Chief Schmaderer and his team with the resources they need to combat crime and make our neighborhoods safer. With crime statistics trending downward, shootings last year at a ten-year low, and homicides at a thirteen-year low, I am confident that Omaha is moving in the right direction on crime.

In addition to new law enforcement resources, it is important that we address the underlying causes of crime. In my time on the City Council, we’ve dedicated $1.8 million dollars to the Step-Up Omaha program, helping at-risk youth obtain summer jobs and explore career possibilities. I’ve also supported programs and facilities that help former offenders in Omaha successfully re-enter society. There are no easy solutions to the underlying causes of crime, but public-private partnerships like these are a firm step in the right direction, and I would like to see these and similar initiatives continued and expanded.

Brian Thommes

No answer given.

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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.

Aimee Melton

Drastic valuation increases are a top concern for Omaha taxpayers. We have cut property tax rates twice in my time on the Omaha City Council, but more tax relief is needed to reduce the burden on families and businesses and counteract rising property valuations.

The key to cutting expenses and controlling spending is careful scrutiny of programs and procedures, fiscal discipline, and the determination to identify and expand efficiencies across city departments. I have high standards for cost effectiveness and efficiency, and these factors weigh heavily on each spending decision I make.

City contracts are written to hold contractors to high standards of accountability and performance. The terms of these agreements have to be vigorously enforced, and contractors who don’t perform quality work should not receive further contracts of the same nature.

Brian Thommes

No answer given.

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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?

Aimee Melton

Omaha is not a sanctuary city, and the Omaha Police Department fully cooperates with federal immigration enforcement authorities when its assistance is requested. This is a longstanding policy, and it should not change. OPD officers should continue to cooperate with ICE agents and other federal law enforcement to ensure that our nation’s laws are respected and obeyed. However, immigration enforcement is not the charge of the Omaha Police Department, and our officers are focused on investigating, deterring, and preventing violent crime and property crime in Omaha, and keeping the public safe. OPD should remain focused on that core mission, while providing assistance to federal immigration enforcement authorities when called upon to do so.

Brian Thommes

No answer given.

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

Aimee Melton

In the current contract with the firefighters’ union, they requested control of their health plan. Our agreement has provided savings for taxpayers, while providing more options for firefighters, giving them more control over their own healthcare. Any consolidation of the OPOA health plan with the civilian plan would have to be negotiated in the next round of contract negotiations.

Brian Thommes

No answer given.

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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?

Aimee Melton

The laws governing TIF are very clear about its use. TIF can only be used when the city is reasonably confident that development would not occur in the absence of such financing. This is always a difficult call for the City Council to make, but we take our obligation to use TIF appropriately very seriously. I do not believe that a TIF limit is necessary, as long as we continue to maintain the same high standard set in the law. The City Council must use fair analysis and level judgement of each proposal, but we should not unduly constrain Omaha’s ability to incentivize economic development by capping the total amount issued.

Brian Thommes

No answer given.

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

Aimee Melton

The public should be able to scrutinize how taxpayer money is spent, even if that spending is done through a private entity. The City of Omaha has high standards of accountability for our private partners, and public scrutiny is essential to making sure that every dollar is spent wisely. I’ve been committed to transparency over the last four years. In my time on the City Council, we introduced the city’s Online Checkbook, where the public can see exactly how their tax dollars are being used.

Brian Thommes

No answer given.

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

Aimee Melton

I am firmly pro-life. I believe abortion should only be an option when the life of the mother is seriously endangered. As a member of the Essential Pregnancy Services Auxiliary Board, I’ve seen firsthand the promise and innate value of each human life.

Brian Thommes

No answer given.

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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?

Aimee Melton

The Supreme Court made clear in Obergefell v. Hodges that same-sex marriage is the law of the land, and that is unlikely to change. However, religious liberty and freedom of conscience are fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution, and they must be protected, especially for religious organizations. The City of Omaha should continue to provide benefits to spouses of its employees, in accordance with city human resources policy.

Brian Thommes

No answer given.

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

Aimee Melton

No answer given.

Brian Thommes

No answer given.

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© 2012 Voter Information Project