There was red. There was white. There was blue. There was a cute baby. And there was Sen. Chris Beutler, announcing that he will run for mayor of Lincoln next year.
Standing in front of the prerequisite patriotic “Beutler-Mayor” banner, he said, “I am Chris Beutler, and I am running for mayor of Lincoln.”
In his announcement speech, he made it clear he won’t be a carbon-copy of his Democratic colleague, Mayor Coleen Seng.
He said creating an environment that says “Lincoln is open for business” is Lincoln’s greatest need and his “most important priority” — capturing first dibs on what’s sure to be the central theme for his Republican opponent, Councilman Ken Svoboda, whose own announcement is expected by month’s end.
“Government should enhance, not impede, business and job growth,” Beutler said. “Business development has not been effectively facilitated. … If city laws and regulations are the problem, I will use my legal and legislative experience to change them. If management is the problem, I will use my experience running a business to fix the problem.
"If lack of adequate infrastructure is the problem, we will build it. If the problem is excessive community discord, I will provide the leadership to bring people together. My daily message will be ‘cooperation, cooperation, cooperation.’ ”
Beutler said great cities must be safe, have exceptional economies and a “unique sense of place.”
“Our campaign will not speak of neighborhoods vs. development,” he said. “It is a false dichotomy. … I treasure our neighborhoods. I deeply respect the efforts of the business community. Rightly understood, there is no doubt in my mind they can operate in tandem like the wheels of a bike.
"Strong business creates good jobs. Good jobs create strong neighborhoods.”
Asked whether his speech implied the city has leadership problems now, Beutler said he was referring to a “general atmosphere” not specific individuals.
“We’ve let the situation go downhill,” he said, adding that he won’t focus on the past. “It’s about the future.”
He said there’s “great concern” about Lincoln’s laws and “whether there’s team action in city government.”
He didn’t rule out making changes in leadership of city departments. “That’s a distinct possibility,” he said.
But as for Seng, he said she deserves gratitude for her service and citizens will have to judge her performance for themselves.
“I certainly have nothing but positive feelings about Mayor Seng,” he said.
The Lancaster County Republican Party, however, wasted no time sending out a press release declaring Beutler “another recycled liberal” who would be “the most liberal mayor in the history of the city.”
“If you liked (former Councilman) Terry Werner, you’ll love Chris Beutler,” was the headline.
Wayne Boles, who works in corporate relations for Telesis Inc., attended Beutler’s press conference and said Beutler is the kind of leader Lincoln needs.
“He is a scholar,” he said, “and that’s the kind of leader that an educated community deserves.”
Two City Council members attended the announcement: Councilwoman Annette McRoy and Councilman Dan Marvin.
Marvin said Beutler has the skills to bring Lincoln together, but he expects a tough campaign.
“After my last race, (I expect) all races are tough,” he said. “Nothing is a cakewalk.”
Councilwoman Patte Newman missed the announcement because she was attending a meeting, but said she’s happy to see Beutler, who represents her legislative district, running.
“I know a lot of people have a lot of respect for what he does,” she said.
The chairman of the county Republican Party, Mark Fahleson, said his party will be telling Lincolnites a lot about Beutler in the coming months.
“Lincolnites want an energetic mayor who supports economic development and lower taxes,” he said in a statement. “Unfortunately, in his more than a quarter century as a politician, Chris Beutler has compiled a record of consistent support for higher taxes, more government and measures that kill job growth.”
Reach Deena Winter at 473-2642 or email@example.com.