Joe Jordan | Nebraska Watchdog
Although he’s backing Brad Ashford for mayor Mike Fahey thinks Ashford went off the track on taxes, at least briefly.
In more of Nebraska Watchdog’s exclusive interview with Fahey, the former Democratic mayor, says Ashford’s recent push to eliminate the state income tax was off base.
Nebraska Watchdog: Are you in agreement with Brad Ashford on the income tax plan?
Mike Fahey: No. But I like the idea of talking about it.
Nebraska Watchdog: When Ashford came out for this massive income tax cut that’s not exactly a Democratic proposal.
Mike Fahey: No it isn’t. But I think Brad did it more for let’s get this conversation going. I mean he quickly backed up to having the deal after he found so much opposition.
Ashford was called in by Republican Gov. Dave Heineman to help push the tax cut which quickly stalled and is now the subject of a year-long study.
But one look at a new Ashford billboard—the one Nebraska Watchdog saw was in Republican west Omaha—finds Ashford “fighting to eliminate your income tax” not, as Fahey suggested, backing away from the fight.
In addition Ashford tells Nebraska Watchdog that the former head of the Legislature’s Revenue Committee, Republican Abbie Cornett, is now Ashford’s senior adviser on tax policy.
Fahey’s move to back Ashford, who is running as an independent, upset many Democrats looking for Fahey to get behind incumbent Democrat Jim Suttle.
In his interview with Nebraska Watchdog (see video here) Fahey defended his choice.
Nebraska Watchdog: What do you think Ashford’s chances are? In the money race he’s fifth out of five.
Mike Fahey: He needs to raise more money no doubt about that but he’s certainly been in the news a lot so he’s gotten a lot of free publicity.
Nebraska Watchdog: Suttle’s critics continually point to his tax increases: the property tax increase he brought in the restaurant tax. Did you leave him with an unmanageable situation?
Mike Fahey: No but we knew we were going to have to raise taxes. We knew that going in because of the pension issues. I give (Suttle) credit it had to be done.
Nebraska Watchdog: Why Brad Ashford and not the standing Democrat Jim Suttle?
Mike Fahey: It’s nothing against the Mayor it really isn’t. It’s just that Brad and I have been very good friends for 30-35 years.
Mike Fahey: Again this is not about anything against Mayor Suttle.
Nebraska Watchdog: Do you think he thinks it is?
Mike Fahey: No I don’t think so. He doesn’t seem to be holding any grudge because I’m not there.
Nebraska Watchdog: There are Democrats who wonder why you’re doing this.
Mike Fahey: Yea I know.
Nebraska Watchdog: And I know you say he’s a friend but there is a Democrat sitting there, Jim Suttle.
Mike Fahey: And I’ve been very careful not to say anything negative about Jim. I think he’s made some tough decisions as mayor, not popular by any means. But I really think there are two different styles of being a mayor, many different probably, but reaching out and building consensus is one ability I think Brad has an edge over Jim.
Nebraska Watchdog: Do you think Mayor Suttle has been pushing people down, you know my way or the highway?
Mike Fahey: I don’t want to be that negative. I just think people have different styles. And I think if you’re able to reach out and build consensus rather than being a little bit of a lightning rod you’re going to have a much better chance of being successful in that office.
Contact Joe Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org
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