Hotly Contested Race

There's a hotly contested legislative race south of the metro.

Incumbent state senator Paul Lambert and challenger Bill Kintner gave their thoughts and views during a forum in Louisville last week. Cassgram is providing excerpts from the forum.

A question about “conflict of interest” was posed to the candidates as to whether they were beholden to Governor Dave Heineman’s agenda or would “do what is best for the district.” The questions arise because Lambert was appointed by the governor as state senator a year ago and because Kintner is now endorsed by the governor and accepted a campaign donation from him. Also, Kintner’s wife is chief policy advisor to Heineman.

"The governor appointed me to represent District 2,” said Lambert. “The governor and I align on a lot of issues, but there is one or two we don’t. I vote the way the people I represent want me to vote. I have no conflict of interest.”

(In a recent Omaha World-Herald article, Heineman indicated Lambert’s deciding vote to override a governor’s veto was a factor in him now supporting Kintner. The legislation in question gives cities—first with at least a 70% vote of the city council and then on a vote of the people—the authority to levy up to a half-cent more in non-permanent sales tax for a special project.)

Lambert explained his vote on that legislation. “I listened to the people of the district …they wanted me to pass that bill.” Lambert said city officials pointed out to him how state funding to local governments has been cut in the last couple of years so the legislation “is a tool (cities) need” should it be necessary.

Kintner said he and his wife “have shared values,” but they still have “vigorous debate” on some issues.

”I’ve got a pretty good track record in my background on where I stand, so I’m not sure the governor is going to have any particular sway with me. I’ve laid out what I’ll do and what I stand for.”

Kintner said that as a member of the legislature, he would be in “a distinct and separate branch of government and I would exercise my prerogative and do what I said I was going to do when I get there.”

As to the additional half-cent authority for cities, Kintner said he would have voted against giving cities that ability. “The problem I have with that is that once (the authority) is on the books, that counts against (Nebraska’s) tax burden” and negatively affects the ranking given to the state by the National Tax Foundation which affects business recruitment. “We don’t need to be raising taxes in any way, shape or form right now.”

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