Heath Mello (D) for Omaha Mayor
Heath Mello is a former state senator from the Nebraska Unicameral, whose time ended due to term limits laws in Nebraska. Amongst other accomplishments he held the chair of the state appropriations committee, an unusual position for a minority party member. A Democrat had not held that position in decades.
“Heath Mello is a progressive Democrat ready to bring innovation to one of our Heartland’s biggest cities—Omaha.” noted Democratic State Chair Jane Kleeb, “We are mostly known for cattle and corn in Nebraska, most do not realize the growing “Silicon Prairie” and potential for clean energy build out at the city level. Heath is ready to show young people who left our state we are moving forward and need their talent back home.”
Continuing below the YouTube video.
The downtown core of Omaha has been plagued with poor streets for years. The current mayor Jean Stothert (R) implemented a plan to “reclaim” streets. This involves grinding up asphalt streets and turning them to gravel. This is deeply unpopular with Omaha residents; while Lincoln has some gravel streets that were never paved in the first place, Omaha is “unimproving” major streets in the downtown area of the city (something no other major city has done in the nation).
And Omaha is not just some cow town on the Plains: It has a higher population than the core of Miami/Dade or Minneapolis.
Mayor Jean Stothert says she only needs more time as mayor. Her city hall is famous for passing the buck though.
From the New York Times:
“In grinding up streets and putting gravel roads in the middle of the core of your city, that damages the reputation, that damages the image and brand of a city,” said Heath Mello, a Democrat and former state lawmaker trying to unseat Ms. Stothert this spring. For her part, the mayor said that along with turning some roads to gravel, her administration also has increased annual funding for resurfacing by about $4 million.
Bruce Simon, the president of Omaha Steaks, a major employer here, sued the mayor and the city last year after finding out that the asphalt road in front of his $2.3 million house was scheduled to be pulverized into gravel. He dropped the lawsuit after Ms. Stothert helped negotiate the 50-50 payment deal.
“I got a road,” said Mr. Simon, who paid $5,200 to cover his share of the smooth new asphalt surface. “Did I like chucking out the five grand? No. Did I like spending the money with an attorney to deal with it? No.”
About a mile away, on Leavenworth Street, Ms. Amoura and her neighbors are waiting to hear from City Hall about whether they will get a deal similar to Mr. Simon’s. But on other reclaimed streets, residents have scoffed at the notion that they should have to choose between living on gravel and paying for new pavement.
The Primary election is on April 4, and the election for mayor on May 9. The current mayor has outraised Mr. Mello by a considerable amount in what is shaping up to be the most expensive mayor’s race in Omaha’s history.
Mr. Mello opposes school voucher programmes, and thus has the backing of the Omaha teachers’ union.
Mr. Mello is also endorsed by the Douglas County Sheriff Tim Dunning.
The group said it made the decision in part because Mello opposes voucher programs and charter schools and “unequivocally supports collective bargaining.”
“Mello has a very holistic view of the city and the office of the mayor and intends to use that office to bring collaboration and consensus,” union President Bridget Donovan said in a press release.
It’s the first time the union, which represents about 2,800 members, has weighed in on a mayor’s race.
Mr. Mello has an Act Blue account for donations to his campaign. If you have a few Ameros lying around, consider throwing them toward Mr. Mello to help rebuild the Democratic message in the Heartland.
(Edited to correct an incomplete sentence)