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Stothert wins second term as Omaha mayor

(KOLNKGIN)
Published: May. 9, 2017 at 9:04 PM CDT
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Update: Stothert has won a second term as Mayor of the City of Omaha. Former State Senator Heath Mello called Stothert and conceded after the latest batch of votes came in around 10:15 p.m. and still showed a large gap between the two. The latest totals showed Stothert with 53 percent of the vote, compared to Mello's 47 percent.

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Former Nebraska State Senator Heath Mello is challenging Omaha's incumbent Mayor, Jean Stothert, in Tuesday's General Election.

Mello says, as mayor, he would be more proactive with the business community in keeping and bringing in new jobs – but stops short of saying he could have prevented the food giant from moving its headquarters to Chicago. "The city needs a mayor who consistently values relationships and to develop relationships every single day with people, business leaders, philanthropic leaders and just taxpayers. Every single day."

Term limits forced Mello, 37, out of the Nebraska legislature last year.

On the campaign trail, he spends a lot of time on his vision for the city and how he can be a better steward of our taxes. He’s also quick to point out, what he believes, is in contrast with the incumbent. "People want to be respected even when you’re in disagreement. I’m going to bring more people to the table in city hall making those decisions instead of pushing people away."

Heath Mello made one promise during the WOWT 6 News interview: he wants to cap the growth of the restaurant tax -- which wouldn't eliminate it -- but instead lower the actual amount people pay if the tax brings in a certain amount of money year to year.

Stothert, meanwhile, is trying to win her second term.

While some supporters of hers four years ago are no longer, Jean Stothert says it’s the political cost of doing business. “There are four people who supported me in my last race that I’ve had to say no to. I had to say no to them because it was in the best interest of the Omaha. One was over HDR and the Omaha Performing Arts. One was a member of the MECA board when I pushed MECA to be more transparent. Another wanted an enormous amount of money to build a multi-sports complex in Omaha – $20-million is what they were asking for. There were reasons I had to tell these gentlemen, ‘No.’”

Winning or losing city elections often comes down to the basics – things like snow removal and street repair, and what it costs to get the job done.

"You’re going to see more going in roadwork this summer than you’ve seen in years and years and years. That’s how we are managing the budget and that’s how we will do more and more for roads.”

Stothert also touts her emphasis on public safety during her first term. “When you talk to people across Omaha, I hear three things: keep me safe, lower my taxes and fix my streets. So, public safety is my number one priority. In 2016, our homicide rate was the lowest in 13-years, and the number of shootings is the lowest in a decade. That shows real progress. People do feel safer and that’s probably what I feel most proud of.”

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