One of the most competitive races in the April 2 primary is shaping up in north Omaha’s District 2. Four challengers — two attorneys, a retired police officer and a former elections official — are running to unseat City Councilman Ben Gray.
All of the candidates say they’re the best fit to take on the district’s challenges of poverty and crime and help boost meaningful economic development.
Gray, a former broadcaster and gang intervention specialist who was first elected four years ago, said the city is making progress in aiding development, pointing to areas like Ames Avenue and 24th and Lake Streets. But he says more work remains to create jobs in north Omaha — a process he sees as key to reducing violence in the area.
Retired Omaha police officer Tariq Al-Amin wants the city to tighten up its oversight of law enforcement, bringing in a police auditor and a civilian oversight board. He’s also an advocate of more negotiations with the police and fire departments to overhaul the pension system.
Attorney Timothy Ashford says he has the business experience necessary to help north Omaha residents use economic growth to combat problems in their neighborhoods. He wants to urge banks and community groups to work together to help people start and expand small businesses.
Bruce Hunter, also an attorney, proposes the creation of a “concerned citizens council” that would allow residents and law enforcement officials to share information. He wants to see the city working more with Omaha Public Schools to boost economic development and make the area attractive to a wider range of companies.
Former deputy Douglas County election commissioner Dennis J. Womack is also interested in a community advisory board to help steer law enforcement. He also wants to push for expanding workforce development programs and make the city’s youth summer jobs training program a year-round opportunity.