Rodgers Picked to Head County Board 01/22/18 10:46:46 PM
Rodgers Picked to Head County Board
By Lorraine Boyd
The Daily Record
Chris Rodgers was unanimously elected chairman of the Douglas County Board of Commissioners this month (6-0, he abstained), the second time he has served in that capacity since he first took office in 2005.
Rodgers, a Democrat who represents District 3 located in northeast Omaha, has concentrated his efforts on increasing public health resources, strengthening community corrections programs, reforming the juvenile justice system, and controlling spending through a better use of taxpayer’s dollars.
Rodgers was born and raised in East St. Louis, Ill., and came to Omaha’s Creighton University on a basketball scholarship. He graduated from Creighton in 1992 with a BA in journalism. He later received his master’s degree in Business Administration, also from Creighton. He later received a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
He is currently director of Community and Government Relations at Creighton University.
Asked about the board’s priorities, Rodgers said that while they haven’t set those yet as a board, there are two important areas of concern. First, the situation in the county jail regarding mental health. And second, the urgent needs of the juvenile detention center.
“Half of the jail population in the adult corrections facility has been diagnosed with some mental illness. They shouldn’t even be in jail and they can’t get treatment in jail. By being there, they pose a safety concern for the staff and themselves. Costs are the big issue of course.”
He said they are in the process of hiring a director for the juvenile center, with hopes to substantially improve things there. “Those are our most pressing issues right now.”
Responding to the alignment of black leaders of three of the most influential boards, Rodgers said that while it’s a good step, “There can be no substantial turning of the ship in the short term [just because of this]; rather it can only be realized in the long term.”
But, locally, it does show young men that there is hope and possibility, if you just work hard, he said.
Being the head of the board “gives you a voice, a bigger voice, in incorporating your message into the board’s business. It gives you the ability to put a spotlight on issues.”
He said being elected to head the board, as was the case in all three boards, “speaks more to the trust that your fellow board members put in you.” And of course, the public who put you on the board.
“But as I’ve said before, being the chair is not for the glory. You are a facilitator. It is an honor to be selected and to lead. It just reinforces the image of how anyone can achieve their dreams with hard work.”