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Grand Island mayor announces he will not run for re-election

Grand Island Mayor Jeremy Jensen leads city budget meeting (NTV News)

Grand Island Mayor Jeremy Jensen announced Monday that he will not be running for re-election.

The following statement was released from the City of Grand Island office about Jensen's re-election plan:

“Four years ago my family went through a private, yet very extensive decision making process when I was considering applying for this honorary position. Since the day I walked into City Hall to file the paperwork we have not looked back; and not once have I gone to bed regretting the decision that we made.

I felt both an opportunity and a calling to lend my talents to my hometown during a very pivotal time for our city’s future. As I look back on the three short years I have served our community, I couldn’t be more proud of our accomplishments. We have structured the return and redevelopment plan of the Veterans Home property to the City of Grand Island; unified the Grow Grand Island and Grander Vision long-range plans; passed the Pennies For Progress initiative; retained Husker Harvest Days; spurred the development of our community southward on Highway 281 with the passage of the redevelopment plan for the intersection at Highway 34; and tackled the looming budget crisis.

During this time, I have asked my family to make a number of sacrifices – primarily on something that has no intrinsic value – time. All three of my children, along with my wife, support me seeking a second term of office because we have been blessed with many opportunities and life experiences that will live within us infinitely. There is an unquestioned honor that our family feels and we feel an obligation to be a positive example within our community. I have always stated that the number one job of any parent is to be a good father or mother – as our children are our legacy. I’m hopeful that my children are proud of their parents, not only now, but will also be in the future.

As I have struggled with the decision at hand, I keep coming back to one thing – time.

This recently came directly into focus as we have begun the discussions of making college plans for our firstborn. While the past four years have been filled with awesome experiences, the time has literally flown by. So being a bit selfish, I think it may be time for me to step away for a while. I will undoubtedly regret the decision to give up the honor of being our mayor, but I don’t want to potentially regret not spending more time with my three children as they grow.

So if not me, who? I struggle with this question because I know what it takes to sit in that chair. This job isn’t about being a boss, wielding power, or self-serving ideals. It’s about being “the face of the franchise” both here and abroad. It’s about being able to take a punch, but also throw one too. It’s about building teams and coalitions and not caring who gets credit for accomplishments. It’s about doing what’s right, and not what’s easy or popular. Finally, it’s realizing that being the mayor is a full-time responsibility, but not a full-time job.

On election night 2014, Tracy Overstreet from the Grand Island Independent asked me what my number one goal was in serving as mayor. I said: “I want to create a legacy of leadership that will be difficult for my successor to follow.” I’m hopeful that I have been able to achieve that, and I hope we have multiple terrific candidates to choose from next fall who can step right in and rise to the challenge. I had zero experience when I took over, so I know that it can be done.

I think I proved that you don’t need to run a traditional campaign to win an election. You don’t need to be retired, you don’t need to be wealthy, and you don’t need a vast political background. You just need the self-confidence that when the bus blows a tire and is headed toward the ditch, you want your hands to be the ones on the steering wheel. You’ll need the backbone to standup to special interest groups, and you’ll need to have conviction in the decisions that you will make. You will need to be able to build teams and work within their framework, but also be a visionary. You’ll need the ability to connect with both the young and old. You’ll need to understand that everyone wants something, but few like to pay for anything. You’ll need to understand that some people will dislike you, but hopefully they will at least respect you. You will need to know that there is no way to make 50,000 people happy all of the time, and you shouldn’t even try. And most importantly, people need to be able to trust you, so don’t make campaign promises that you can’t keep. Do it for the love of Grand Island, not for the title placed behind your name.

Whoever can check those boxes will get my vote and endorsement in 2018. Sincerely, from my family to yours, thank you for the opportunity you all have given me to serve Grand Island.”

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