OMAHA (KPTM) – Nebraska State Senator Candidates Brenda Council, Ernie Chambers and Write In candidate Susan Smith talked key issues in an impromptu candidate forum Monday night.
The debate hosted on CTI 22 comes less than a day before Council is expected to plead guilty to misdemeanor charges for using her campaign money on gambling.
Monday was the first time Council publicly spoke on her problems with gambling since the charges were filed.
The debate started off with her admitting to her mistakes and an apology to voters.
But then talk went straight to business.
Council, Chambers and Smith agreed on some key issues in District 11 they said need improvement.
They all want to bring manufacturing jobs to Omaha and said incentives need to go to companies that relocate to Omaha and hire locally.
But Chambers and Council had different opinions on what is the root of this problem.
"I don't think we have quality education at any level in the city," said Chambers. "If you compare them in this part of the country I think they are doing poorly."
Council agreed, but said training should be a top priority.
"I agree we have educational deficiencies to address K-12," said Council. "We also have in people in the community that lost jobs where they did have the skills and the jobs are available now they need to be retrained for."
Smith briefly stated a partnership with existing companies would be beneficial to Omaha's economy.
Hosts Cheryl Weston and Willie Hamilton asked the three candidates how they would improve juvenile truancy legislation.
All said they want to find a solution to prevent teens from skipping school.
Smith argued the city spends too much tax paying money on "hug-a-thug" programs and needs to be strict on first time offenders.
This concept, both Council and Chambers disagreed with.
"Do not punish them for not being school. Provide to them services that they need to address any issues that prevent them from being in school," said Council.
"Begin in juvenile court," said Chambers. "It would be up to prosecutor to establish that the case should be moved to adult care, instead of charging them as adults and moving them to juvenile court."
Chambers held the senate for 38 years until he had to step down due to term limits. Since he sat out for four years, he can run again.
The candidates also talked about immigration and voting rights.
Council is going to be in court Tuesday in Lancaster County.
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