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Omaha mayoral candidate Gudgel building campaign around education

Mark Gudgel wants to give graduates a reason to stay, lead the city
Published: Apr. 1, 2021 at 7:38 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Mark Gudgel wants to be Omaha’s next mayor.

The North High English teacher invited us into his home in the Field Club neighborhood to share some of his ideas.

“My biggest concern is brain drain,” he said from his living room. “We lose something like 2,000 college-educated people on average in this city. We can’t sustain that.”

Mark Gudgel grew up in Valentine, Neb. — undergrad at UNL.

“We’re competing against mountains and oceans.”

He believes Omaha’s key to keeping graduates is to give them a reason to stay — and lead the city to that vision.

“We need to improve transportation — public transportation; fight to ensure the rights of LGBTQ+ community; and fight climate change as a city,” he said.

Gudgel knows the value of higher education. It’s why the issue is a bedrock of his campaign.

His plan: free college for Omaha high school graduates.

“What we can do as a city is offer young people the opportunity to go to college without having to pay for it. And by college, I also include trade schools.”

He thinks it would cost the city around $8,000 per student.

As mayor, he would leverage the philanthropic community along with corporate America’s current role in reimbursing some costs of higher education, while the city of Omaha would fill the gaps.

“We’re a municipality of 450,000. We have more buying power than Costco.”

Instead of paying student loans, graduates would have more disposable income to spend on their lives.

“In the long term, this really benefits us. We just need to have a vision to implement it in the beginning,” he said. “I may be naïve enough not to realize what I can’t do. A lot of people are limited by believing they can’t do things.”

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