A collaborative group of North Omaha elected officials have played a pivotal and instrumental role in the community progress. Their work has provided the platform and foundation for the restoration and revitalization which has been desired by residents for decades. Their ability to work together and champion community-based priorities has produced positive and measurable results. Legislation has been introduced and passed, initiatives supported, funding aligned and solutions implemented.
Councilman Ben Gray, Commissioner Chris Rodgers, and Douglas County Treasurer John Ewing have been consistently engaged throughout the nine year process. They have collaborated with others to focus on community development, job training, violence prevention, health, juvenile justice and youth employment. State Senator Tanya Cook, former State Senator Brenda Council, former School Board President Freddie Gray and Metropolitan Board Member Fred Conley have all made significant contributions and partnered on important work in the areas of health, education and housing. Cook, Council and State Senator Ernie Chambers have fought key battles and passed major laws in the State Legislature, including: prison reform, ban the box, voter id, education, and juvenile justice. Senators Heath Mello and Brad Ashford, now Congressman, were also major players on groundbreaking legislation.
Gray, Kris Carter, Yolanda Williams, Marque Snow and Justin Wayne have all pushed for policies and funding to support improvements in the educational system within OPS and the Learning Community. An action plan, strategic plan, historic school improvement bond, new Learning Community Center of North Omaha, and numerous other projects have been approved.
The North Omaha elected officials have also teamed with Mayor Jean Stothert, former City Council president Pete Festersen, Councilman Franklin Thompson, Congressman Brad Ashford, State Senator Heath Mello, Commissioner Mary Ann Borgeson, and their colleagues, Republican and Democrat, to bring more attention to the specific needs of North Omaha. While everyone agrees there’s much work ahead, the collaborative efforts are making a difference.
Building on the learning experiences and successes during seven years of collaboration, many of the community-based strategies were incorporated into the Transformation 2025 plan in 2014. The 10 year vision is complete with long-term goals and annual benchmarks. The elected officials don’t agree on every issue, but there is a growing consensus that it is finally time to invest at a greater level to address the unemployment and poverty which have severely impacted North Omaha for decades. While all organizations and elected officials maintain their independence and answer to their respective boards and voters, they realize the importance of collaboration, alignment and strategic reinvestment. By working collectively and strategically, these long-standing gaps will be closed. Omaha will be a great city, thriving and prosperous, in every zip code and every neighborhood.