Stan Parker, executive director of a Christian radio broadcast network, The Bridge, announced a run for Lincoln mayor. (Aaron Sanderford/Nebraska Examiner)
LINCOLN — Wednesday’s announcement of a second Republican running for Lincoln mayor puts Capital City conservatives in position to pick a 2023 challenger for Nebraska’s highest-profile Democrat, Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird.
Stan Parker, a Christian radio executive and former University of Nebraska offensive lineman, joined the race Wednesday with a boost from his old coach, former U.S. Rep. Tom Osborne, R-Neb. Osborne endorsed Parker, touting his discipline.
Parker is gathering 300 signatures to run in Lincoln’s April 4 primary against Baird, a Democrat, and State Sen. Suzanne Geist, a Republican. The race is officially nonpartisan. The top two finishers advance to the city’s May 2 general election. Baird is seeking a second term after winning her first race 55%-45% in 2019.
Parker, 58, said one key difference between him and Baird is how he would have navigated the COVID-19 pandemic. He said he would have encouraged individual choices by people, trusting them to make decisions for themselves, their businesses and their families.
Both he and Geist say they oppose mask mandates and said the city needs to be friendlier to businesses. Both said they would prioritize law enforcement.
Baird’s campaign declined to comment about Parker’s entrance into the race. Geist said she was focused on running her race. “After talking to business leaders, first responders and Lincoln citizens, it’s evident to me it’s time for a change in our city,” Geist said. “I’m focused on that alone.”
Parker said he had not yet studied the permitless carry bill that some conservatives have criticized Geist for sidestepping during this year’s legislative session. Police unions in Lincoln and Omaha opposed the bill. Parker said he believes completely in 2nd Amendment rights, which he said keeps “us free as a nation.”
He said that his campaign was just starting to raise money and that he would target small-dollar donors. He said he needs 5,000 people to give him $100 each and thinks he can build support by talking to people face-to-face.
He said his experience leading a nonprofit Christian ministry prepares him better for leading the city than political experience.
“The role of the mayor is to be the executive director of a nonprofit, the city. … Our ability to thrive is significantly defined and outlined by those we choose to put in office,” Parker said. “More than political experience, I believe leadership acumen is needed.”
Osborne, speaking to a crowd of more than 75 people that included people from the Nebraska Freedom Coalition and Nebraska Republican Party National Committeewoman Fanchon Blythe, said it’s important to elect leaders who have built businesses or accomplished things outside politics.
Osborne highlighted Parker’s work growing The Bridge radio, a Christian broadcast ministry on 15 stations. He said he knew Parker would be effective from their work together with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
“He’s a good leader. He’s not an in-your-face kind of leader. He’s a guy who listens,” Osborne said. “He makes good decisions. He leads by example.”
Parker, a longtime registered nonpartisan, said he re-registered as a Republican when deciding to run for office because his politics and personal beliefs aligned more closely with that party.
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