City Councilwoman Leirion Gaylor Baird has officially announced she is running to become Lincoln's mayor in the 2019 spring city election, as other potential Democratic candidates consider their options.
“Lincoln is thriving. We are on an exciting path, and I have been inspired by our community’s momentum under Mayor Chris Beutler,” Gaylor Baird said in a Thursday morning news release on her candidacy.
Gaylor Baird, who has served five years on the City Council and was previously on the City-County Planning Commission, said she has been a leader, consensus builder and listener.
“I believe my job as a public servant is to listen and to act on the priorities of our community. Over the next few months I look forward to sharing my vision of how together we keep growing Lincoln’s successes,” she said in the news release.
One potential mayoral candidate, state Sen. Adam Morfeld, will not run and will support Gaylor Baird.
Morfeld said he and many other elected officials will be doing a lot of work for her.
Gaylor Baird, he said, is “hard-working, a good listener and passionate about Lincoln being a city where everyone can be successful.”
At least two other Democrats are considering the mayor’s race after voters approved a mayoral term-limits amendment on Tuesday, snuffing Mayor Chris Beutler’s ability to run for a fourth term next year.
City Attorney Jeff Kirkpatrick acknowledged he has considered running for mayor and will be considering his options.
Jennifer Brinkman, a Lancaster County commissioner, is also considering the mayor’s race and said she will have an announcement next week.
Councilwoman Cyndi Lamm, who announced several weeks ago that she will run for mayor, is the only Republican who has stepped forward.
A number of Republicans mentioned as having the background and name recognition helpful for the race have said they will not be candidates for Lincoln mayor — including City Councilmen Roy Christensen and Jon Camp and County Commissioner Deb Schorr.
Trent Fellers, who has been mentioned as a possible Republican candidate, said, “Right now, I don’t think it’s the right time for me to run for mayor. But, over the last two days, I’ve had a number of interesting conversations with a lot of people.”
Potential candidates are having to make fairly quick decisions after Tuesday’s election, which eliminated incumbent Beutler from the race next year.
Voters approved a term-limit amendment, which allows a Lincoln mayor to serve only three consecutive terms. Beutler had earlier announced he planned to run for a fourth four-year term next year.
The term-limit proposal, organized by Republican leaders, was aimed at Beutler, who has beat out Republicans in the past three races. While most term-limit proposals are applied prospectively, allowing current elected officials to continue serving, this term limit is applied retroactively.
The early April primary is just five months away, a short timeline for organizing a campaign and raising the money — typically several hundred thousand dollars — required for a mayor’s race.
Gaylor Baird serves on a number of local boards, including the Lincoln Community Foundation, the Lincoln Public Schools Superintendent’s Community Advisory Council and the University of Nebraska President’s Advisory Council. She has been a co-chair of Friendship Home’s Keys of Hope campaign.
Gaylor Baird has been recognized for her work on the City Council. In 2016 she received the local Inspire Award for Excellence in Government Services and was one of 24 elected officials from across the country selected by the Aspen Institute for a Rodel Fellowship in Public Leadership, awarded to elected officials who have demonstrated an “outstanding ability to work responsibly across partisan divisions and bring greater civility to public discourse.”
In 2014 Gaylor Baird was selected as one of the 12 leaders from across the country to join NewDeal, a national network committed to highlighting innovative ideas from pro-growth state and local elected leaders.
Gaylor Baird began her professional career as a management consultant, helping Fortune 500 companies become more efficient. She has worked as a city budget and policy analyst and as director of an after-school and summer enrichment program for children from low-income families.