LOCAL POLITICS: City Finalists Are Set, Post Primary Update

Mayoral Race
The 2017 City of Omaha Primary election on April 4 established the contenders for the 2017 City of Omaha General election on May 9. Current Mayor, Jean Stothert, and former Nebraska state senator, Heath Mello, will face off next month. Stothert ranked in first place with 44 percent of the votes, while Mello was a close second coming in with 41 percent of total votes in the primary election. Stothert only outranked Mello by three percentage points which will make the race next month a tight one.

Stothert’s campaign is currently focusing on six issues while Mello is tackling eight during this campaign season. “The number one priority of a Mayor is the safety of the citizens,” says Stothert, adding “I have put public safety as my top priority over the last four years, and that is my top priority for the next four.”

Stothert’s safety agenda has focused on four key areas, these include strengthening law enforcement, reducing response times, fighting gangs and violent crime and keeping Omaha neighborhoods safe.

Mello has also made fighting crime and keeping the citizens of Omaha a top goal. Mello aims to create safer neighborhoods and reducing crime through strategic city partnerships with schools, afterschool programs, social service providers and employers.

Another top issue for Stothert is better streets. Since first taking office, the resurfacing budget has been nearly doubled according to information released by Stothert. Her ultimate goal is to enhance the taxpayer experience.

According to Mello’s campaign, providing everyone in Omaha with high-quality services is his number one priority. Mello goal is to plan to create an ‘infrastructure bank’ that will raise funds for maintenance and repair work for Omaha’s streets, airport, riverfront and parks. Mello says if elected mayor he will make it a priority to fix potholes quickly and also provide efficient snow removal in Omaha.

In addition to crime and infrastructure issues, both candidates are tackling other areas. The Republican incumbent has indicated that the future of Omaha will rest in the hands of millennials in the near future. For this reason, Stothert has decided to focus on making Omaha an attractive option for younger generations. In December, Stothert hosted a roundtable discussion with a dozen millennials to discuss how the City of Omaha can live, work and play. Stothert indicates she is encouraging robust housing development so that it is affordable for younger people while also focusing on policies that encourage businesses to expand in town.

Other key issues for Stothert include growing the City of Omaha’s population and tax base, commonsense spending reforms, protecting Omaha’s families and reducing the tax burden.

Mello has indicated he will be focusing on creating jobs, working together as a community, reinventing City Hall, making safer and stronger neighborhoods, creating a blueprint for North Omaha and protecting the environment in Omaha.

Omaha City Council-District 4

To the disappointment of many, longtime City of Omaha Council member Garry Gernandt announced his retirement after four terms in office, this has resulted in an open seat in Omaha City Council District 4 this election season. Omaha businessman Vinny Palermo obtained 38 percent of the votes during the primary, while former Nebraska Democratic Party Executive Director, Jim Rogers, ranked second bringing in 36 percent of the total votes. Gernandt filled the South Omaha City Council seat since he was elected in 2001 and served as the President once and twice as the Vice- President. During Gernandt’s tenure public safety, holding the line on property taxes and making the City of Omaha government more accountable and efficient were top priorities.

For more information about the General Election on May 9 please visit votedouglascounty.com.

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