You are the owner of this article.
Lincoln's 2016 budget battle propels newcomer Herrold to run for Lincoln City Council

Lincoln's 2016 budget battle propels newcomer Herrold to run for Lincoln City Council


Libertarian James Herrold, 33, who works for a publishing company as an interactive operations manager, wants to represent District 4 in northwest Lincoln on the City Council.

He faces Democrat Tammy Ward in Tuesday's general election. Reporter Riley Johnson recently interviewed Herrold about how the political newcomer went from curiously watching council meetings on YouTube to running for a council seat.

Growing up: Herrold grew up on a farm near Garland and went to Seward High School. He stayed in Lincoln after attending the University of Nebraska. He and his wife, Wendy, have enjoyed a combination of big-city amenities and a small-town feeling where people know their community, he said.

Family: The Herrolds have a 7-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son. 

Politics: Herrold identified as a Republican until 2008, when as a political science student he watched as President George W. Bush and Congress bailed out the country's banks following the housing crisis. 

He thought government interference in the free market was wrong, he said.

As he settled into his career and began raising a family of his own, his interest in politics shifted from federal and state issues to what's happening at city hall. He started watching the council meetings on YouTube, he said. 

Then, as he thought about running for office, he began going to City Council meetings and preparing remarks on agenda items to voice his opinions, he said.

One City Council action that jolted Herrold was the unanimous vote to ban bump stocks in Lincoln after the rifle modification was used in the Las Vegas shooting spree that killed 58 people.

During the council discussion of that proposal, several council members called it a symbolic measure. 

Herrold doesn't believe the ban made Lincoln any safer, he said.

"In my opinion, if it's a symbolic measure, then why don't you vote on extending people's liberties, not banning something," he asked.

Why are you running: Herrold said he kept waiting for candidates who think like he does to emerge but, when they didn't, he decided to get involved.

He said tax and spending increases troubled him, but he was especially concerned over the 2016 budget battle when Mayor Chris Beutler sued the City Council to pass a city budget. A judge's ruling in favor of the mayor approved a higher tax rate to balance the budget.

That order may have been right, Herrold said, but for a government, it marked a "dangerous situation" in need of fixing. And the ordeal spurred his run for City Council. "That is probably the straw that broke the camel's back," he said.

Key priorities: Lowering taxes is his main goal. Housing costs, the cost of living, the economic vitality of a city, attracting workers and growing businesses all relate in some way to the city's tax rates, he said.  

"It touches so many other areas that are important and solves so many problems," he said. 

Defining moment: With the birth of his first child came a massive paradigm shift, he said.  

"You don't view yourself as the primary point in your own life," he said. "It's your children now."

The city's role in development: Herrold believes the city has played a heavy-handed role in development projects through tax-increment financing, or TIF, and he'd like to see it curtailed. 

"TIF has been overused and abused in the last decade," he said.

In his opinion, the Haymarket may meet the state's legal definition of blighted, which allows cities to use the urban renewal development mechanism, but the conditions in the area don't square with the spirit of the law. "It's been a stimulus, but sometimes stimulus goes too far," he said.

Why vote for him: Herrold believes that not being a member of one of the two major political parties will help him act independently and in the best interest of his district.

"I don't have those party affiliation loyalties, so I can always stick to my principles and do what I think is best for Lincoln," he said.

Q&As with candidates for Lincoln City Council

Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or

On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.


Get Government & Politics updates in your inbox!

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Breaking News

Husker News