SENIOR ONLINE REPORTER
With her work experience and well-versed connections with Omaha’s educational, neighborhood, business and faith communities, South Omaha community leader Kimara Snipes is running for Mayor of Omaha to ensure new and better jobs for all in the city.
Snipes graduated from Bryan High School in 1993 and spent several years working in the insurance industry before a heart failure stemming from a virus in 2014 caused her to step back for a while.
“After that, I went back into the corporate world through Heartland Workforce where I was a business consultant,” Snipes said. “As a business consultant with my years of experience in insurance and the nonprofit community, I’m able to ensure new and better jobs provided for all of Omaha.”
Through her work as the President of the South Omaha Neighborhood Alliance (SONA) and as an Omaha Public Schools Board member, she reached out to other organizations to find options to address the issues of internet connectivity with students during the pandemic.
“As a board member I did endorse addressing the lack of computer technology and internet access given to our kids. We know that today’s society is really at a place where internet access is an essential need, like water, food, etc. We can’t conduct our daily lives without it,” Snipes said.
Snipes said she would like to copy efforts from many cities who made great efforts to create free public Wi-Fi widely available to use, especially in downtown city centers.
“I think we have to, not just as a Board, but as a community to advocate for our kids,” Snipes said. “I will continue to advocate for our kids especially when it comes down to the budget and funding for our students.”
Snipes also co-found and led Omaha’s first COVID task forces early in 2020 with Nebraska Senator Terrell McKinney to address the high-risk areas in both North and South Omaha areas. They both reached out to community leaders, with some represented from 2nd Congressional District Rep. Don Bacon’s (R-NE) office to newer community leaders.
“We convened on March 13 at 8 o’clock in the morning and I had presentations from the state senate, county commission, the Douglas County Health Department, and others. From that we had grown, and we still meet every week addressing issues of COVID-19 through North Omaha,” McKinney said. “I’m also addressing COVD-19 issues in South Omaha through the South Omaha Neighborhood Alliance that I serve as President of.”
Snipes said that the local government leaders launched their own task force after viewing the success from her efforts with the COVID task force. Her seasoned experience with law enforcement helps center the focus on contact and relations.
Snipes is also the active President of the Highland South-Indian Hill Neighborhood Association, which was recognized in 2016 for their public safety programs, including National Night Out, which is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to promote safer neighborhoods.
As president of the South Omaha Neighborhood Alliance (SONA), Snipes has also included law enforcement representatives in their meetings, met with command officers in the Omaha 360 and is active in South Omaha Violence Intervention and Prevention (SOVIP).
“Our police and community relations have went south but it didn’t just start happening when our current mayor became mayor, it was something that was going on for a while so the police-community relationships have always been very important to me, especially considering the relationships that have existed in South Omaha after the killing of Officer Jimmy Wilson,” Snipes said, referencing to the fatal shooting of Officer Wilson on August 20, 1995 during a routine traffic stop.
Snipes was one of the community leaders who attended the meeting with Gov. Pete Ricketts, Mayor Jean Stohtert and Omaha Police Chief Tom Schmarder to settle community tensions after the death of James Scurlock. Her focuses are on educational diversity training, vetting before hire, transparency from the police department, and reforming policy.
“My plan is just to continue this work but as mayor, I will lead possibly an oversight and review commission for my first year in office that will assess and restore public trust in the system,” Snipes said.
Snipes’ campaign also focuses on sustainability in the city services by investing in improving transportation infrastructures, prioritizing renovations of parks and boulevards, addressing chronic homelessness and improving recycling operations and trash pickups.
“In cities like Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Topeka, Kansas, they have better transportation systems than we do,” Snipes said.
Snipes said the mayor’s responsibility is to make intentional decisions when picking the Board members for the Metro Transit. As someone who utilizes Metro transportation herself, Snipes said it would be important to have members that are familiar to what it’s like to use the system.
“I would find a way to work locally and with the state to invest more money into transportation and have more thought in who I select to run the Board,” Snipes said.
Snipes’ campaign focuses on creating new and better jobs in the Omaha area from her experience as a business consultant, improving internet connectivity for students in remote learning and investing in creating alternate programs for children to replace the after school programs affected by the pandemic.
Snipes’ campaign also focuses on creating more sustainability in city services, improving public safety by bridging the trust between law enforcement and the community, and to continue leading Omaha through the end and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I will make sure to work with nonprofits and the City Hall to make sure everyone is working together and addressing these issues, which also includes the waste and recycling contract,” Snipes said. “We have to do things with more intent and with more vision.”