Festersen won’t run for Congress
City Council President Festersen, the father of two young children, has decided the timing of a congressional campaign against against Republican Rep. Lee Terry wasn’t right for his family.
Robynn Tysver reports the District 1 council representative was heavily recruited by national Democrats, who believed the moderate, pro-business councilman had the credentials to win in the Omaha-based congressional district, the state’s only swing district.
“At this point in time, however, I’ve determined I can have a greater impact on my community by staying focused on being a father, a business owner, and president of the Omaha City Council,” Festersen said.
Pete for Congress?
Joe Morton reports Rep. Lee Terry’s next challenger could come from his old stomping grounds — the Omaha City Council.
Pete Festersen, a Democrat, is considering a 2014 bid to unseat the eight-term Republican congressman.
“I’m focused on my duties as City Council president but have been receiving local and national encouragement to run, and I’m in the process of discussing it with family, friends, colleagues and supporters,” Festersen told The World-Herald on Wednesday.
Big ‘pro and con’ list for Festersen to think on as he makes up his mind.
New administration takes hold
Omaha officially gets its new mayor tonight.
Mayor(-elect ) Jean Stothert, on the eve of her inauguration, told us that she wants to shake up the Fire Department, without its current chief, and maybe preserve the aging Civic Auditorium. She’s also hired just about all of her staff, though most top city positions are being held by interim directors.
The updated City Council (and its new president) also will take the oath of office this evening. Former State Sen. Rich Pahls will represent the southwest Omaha district vacated by Stothert’s mayoral bid. Aimee Melton, a former county prosecutor and a political newcomer, will represent District 7.
Should be fun times tonight at City Hall. Gov. Dave Heineman is expected to attend.
Got any advice for the new mayor? Tell it to her on Twitter with #DearMayorStothert.
You should also check out World-Herald columnist Matthew Hansen’s look at an outgoing figure in Mayor Jim Suttle’s administration.
UPDATE: Another department head has stepped down: Richard O’Gara, director of the city’s Human Resources Department. Steve Kerrigan is currently filling in for O’Gara.
The decision was his own, he told me earlier today. The Planning Department was targeted by Mayor Jim Suttle’s challengers during the city election cycle. The mayor-elect has said she wants new blood on City Hall’s 11th floor.
“I am proud of what I believe has been accomplished while I’ve been here,” Cunningham said. “It was a great pleasure being here and serving in my hometown. It’s been an honor.”
Stothert has also hired her right hand man, as work to bring in a new administration continues.
Stothert has a lot of hires to make, besides the high-profile Planning Department post, including directors for the city finance and parks departments. Not to mention a staff for her office.
Stothert officials got the keys to the space this week and have since worked to connect phone lines, Internet connections and email and voicemail accounts. Stothert will use the space through her June 10 inauguration.
ICYMI: Stothert’s early tests
UPDATE 5/21: In a press conference with Mayor Jim Suttle on Monday, the mayor-elect announced a few members of her transition team.
No word yet on if they’ll have a role in her administration, but attorney and former Nebraska Republican Party chairman David Kramer and Stothert campaign team member Rod Edwards will help Stothert as she moves into the Mayor’s Office.
Brinker Harding, a commercial real estate broker who served as campaign manager and chief of staff to former Mayor Hal Daub, also attended Monday’s meeting
Mayor-elect Jean Stothert doesn’t have much time to catch her breath after last week’s decisive victory.
Stothert must work to assemble a Cabinet as her June 10 inauguration approaches. She must decide how bold to be with the city’s 2014 budget. She must reach out to the rest of city government and local interest groups.
We spoke with a group of local experts — including former mayors Hal Daub and Mike Boyle — about what Omaha’s first female mayor must now do. We also might post some other snippets from our interviews with the two ex-mayors later this week.
Stothert’s husband out from fire role
The first big news following Jean Stothert’s sizeable victory Tuesday evening: Mayor Jim Suttle’s administration has dismissed Stothert’s husband from his volunteer role as a consultant with the Omaha Fire Department.
Dr. Joseph Stothert had served as medical director for the department’s emergency medical service for 18 years.
Fire Chief Mike McDonnell, who had been working on the dismissal with city officials for some time before election day, notified Stothert by mail that he had not worked closely with the department for several months and that the city would be exploring other options.
Meanwhile, in case you missed any of our election coverage on Jean Stothert’s win, Suttle’s response or an analysis of what went wrong for the mayor, check out Omaha.com.
Historical highlights from Omaha’s mayors
Tired of the current mayor’s race?
No problem. We’ve got you covered with some fun facts about Omaha mayors of the past. Among them: James Dworak (1961-1965) who is pictured here reading a newspaper. He was indicted by a grand jury on bribery charges and later acquitted, but lost a re-election bid.
Another highlight: Champion S. Chase, a three-time mayor who was unanimously impeached by the City Council in 1884 for, according to the Douglas County Historical Society, “drunkenness, incompetence by reason of drunkenness, derangement of the nervous system and neglect of duty.”
It’s almost over
With less than 24 hours to go before the polls open, the race for mayor looks like it could be a close one. On Sunday, Robynn Tysver talked to voters and checked out campaign finance reports — and found that it’s going to be a tough race to call early.
Mayor Jim Suttle has raised $100,000 since April 29, while challenger Jean Stothert has brought in $67,000. In total, each of the candidates raised about $1.1 million.
Meanwhile, we spent time last week talking to the candidates and following them on the campaign trail.
Council races: Dist. 7
City Council President Tom Mulligan’s third-place finish in the April primary left two newcomers in the hunt to represent northwest Omaha’s District 7.
Aimee Melton, an attorney, finished first in the primary, with Tim Lonergan, a lawn care company owner, in second. Both are Republicans, sharing similar views on some issues, but Lonergan has strong support from labor unions.
According to campaign finance reports, $25,000 of the $30,000 Lonergan has brought in came from the city’s fire union.
Council races: Dist. 2
In north Omaha’s District 2, first-term City Councilman Ben Gray is looking to hold his seat in a race with retired Omaha police officer Tariq Al-Amin.
Gray is focused on cutting violence by supporting economic development. Al-Amin is positioning himself as a candidate who would go after some of the same goals with different strategies.
Both are pushing for more police oversight, but in different ways; Gray wants to get an auditor added to the city charter, while Al-Amin wants to independently create a position for an auditor or citizen review board.