Lincoln Journal Star: Beutler wins endorsement in mayoral race
Back in January, the Journal Star laid out four broad categories that the newspaper’s editorial board would use in deciding who to endorse for mayor.
With just a week remaining before voters go to the polls on May 1, the editorial board has reached the conclusion that Chris Beutler offers the best blend of talents and vision to lead Lincoln city government for the next four years.
Beutler has offered an outstanding package of ideas on how to improve city policies and practices that affect economic development, ranging from the speeding the permit process to forging consensus on economic policy.
He’s honed in on the problems that plague the present administration, and showed analytical ability in proposing solutions.
One example is what Beutler calls his “taking charge of government plan,” which includes appointment of “project managers” to shepherd major projects through city government channels, cutting through red tape and eliminating frustration that erupts when city departments interpret city requirements differently. He wants to establish a “one-stop permit center” to make city government more business friendly.
Beutler plans to appoint an 11-member council dedicated to finding unity of purpose and vision on economic development. Lack of consensus on Lincoln’s priorities — and the fragmented nature of the local business community — have been noted in the past by former Lincoln Chamber President Jim Fram and others.
While Beutler has private-sector experience from founding, expanding and selling a title business, he inspires confidence mostly because he seems to understand that under the strong mayor form of government he needs to bring his department heads into line and working together. Right now city employees “are not getting the direction they need to be successful in their jobs,” Beutler said. He wants to establish performance standards where none presently exist in order to improve accountability.
Also encouraging is Beutler’s pledge to look beyond party labels when filling key positions on his staff.
Beutler is at his best in thoughtful discussion. He has a quiet conversational style that’s suited to give-and-take. He’s articulate in getting his ideas across on complex topics. While perhaps not the most spell-binding orator or high-energy salesman, Beutler’s abilities will suffice.
Beutler has a healthy appreciation for Lincoln’s strong points, including its public school system, its parks and trails and its arts and entertainment community. At the same time he recognizes that Lincoln needs to grow and change as globalization and technology change the workplace and the nature of jobs. “You can’t stay the same,” Beutler said in an editorial board interview. Beutler said he respects the “judgment, energy and commitment” of the 2015 Vision group and plans to work with them on public-private initiatives.
For the challenges of the next four years Lincoln needs a mayor who can help the community develop new unity and momentum, especially on the crucial goal of job creation. Beutler has offered promising, well-crafted strategies based on sound analysis. He wins the Journal Star endorsement.