The League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha contacts candidates during each election cycle and invites them to participate in the print and online editions of the Voters’ Guide. Candidates provide their biographical information and their positions on selected issues. Candidates are aware in advance that the biographies and answers will be printed exactly as submitted without edits for content, spelling, punctuation or grammar.
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan organization that never supports or opposes any political party or candidate for office.
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Clare Duda (R):
Current Public Office, dates held: Douglas County Commissioner since 1993
Education: B.A. in math and physics
Volunteer Experience: 44 years EMT/firefighter with Ponca Hills VFD. 22 years on the Douglas County Health Center Foundation. Still active on both.
Mike Friend (R):
Occupation: Agent-Farm Bureau Financial Services
Current Public Office, dates held: none
Past Public Office, dates held: Nebraska Legislature, District 10 2003 through 2009
Education: Creighton University, BA, Mass Communications
What element of the county’s government is most effective, and why?
Clare Duda: The Covid -19 outbreak has displayed the incredible effectiveness of the Douglas County Health Department and Douglas County Emergency Management as they tirelessly work to ensure residents’ safety. All Douglas County departments have coordinated together to provide needed services to the public under challenging conditions. Our preparations are being tested, and essential functions are not skipping a beat.
Mike Friend: The administrative function in all areas. County administration is a ministerial responsibility, which requires great attention to detail and sound fiduciary responsibility. Efficient appropriation of funding with the taxpayer in mind is paramount.
What are some ways to provide property tax relief? Are there any services you think should be cut, and if so, why?
Clare Duda: The vast majority of Douglas County services are statutory. We have already cut the services I view as unnecessary. Budgeting is a non stop, constant search for any efficiencies we can gain.
Mike Friend: Internal auditing of processes and programs are important. Possible redundancy in law enforcement services could be addressed, as well as redundancy in other services between the city and county governments. Interlocal agreements are also a good way to potentially relieve certain redundancies.
What do you see as the three most compelling problems facing your office?
Clare Duda: 1. The overcrowded Courthouse and the constantly growing pressures on the criminal justice system; finding consensus to move forward on reforming the juvenile justice system. 2. Meeting the community’s growing mental health needs, including in the jail. We must also find a sustainable model for our detox program. 3. We are constantly aware that we have an overtaxed property tax base.
Mike Friend: Fiduciary/financial responsibility. The need for property tax relief. Understanding and implementing appropriate taxing authority (utilizing a vote of the people is one example)
What should the county do to address climate change issues?
Clare Duda: I spearheaded installing Nebraska’s first methane recovery system, now utilizing that methane for commercial purposes. We were the first government locally to require low impact development. We need to continue seeking energy efficiencies, and with more use of technology to aid in less travel and face to face meetings.
Mike Friend: Always implement best practices to seriously deal with our responsibility to be a good steward of the environment.