Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle made it official Wednesday night, announcing his bid for reelection. It's a heated race that’s already getting expensive.
"We have a balance between the revenue and the expenditures, we're in the black, we're going to stay there, that's my legacy for the city and we have services being delivered,” said the mayor, adding he's accomplished a lot over the last four years and he's ready to begin his campaign for a second term, focusing on economic growth and job creation.
"We're going to purchase 77 acres, somehow, someway, right on the east edge of north Omaha, put that into four, shovel-ready sites for industry, housing and we're going to put north Omaha to work."
The campaign is already shaping up to be expensive. State Sen. Brad Ashford of Omaha has 10 billboards up around the city, including an electronic ad along the interstate. His campaign says they have more plans along the way.
One of Ashford's main goals is to give Omaha residents lower taxes. His campaign says that's why he's working in the Legislature with Sen. McCoy and Gov. Heineman to eliminate the income tax in the state. He also wants to work on the violence in Omaha and has also worked in the Legislature to move toward early prevention and mental health care. Ashford's third goal is to reduce unemployment, through building a bridge between the private and public sector.
Former Omaha City Councilman Dan Welch is reaching out to voters through television ads. "We've been very fortunate with the amount of money the campaign has raised, due to the fact that we've got very good people involved and we'll be doing everything we can to get the message out. We need to cut expenses in the city of Omaha and give that back to taxpayers. Right now, we're overspending in terms of what we provide, we are overspending as a city."
Omaha City Councilwoman Jean Stothert has also entered the race, putting out several changes she'd like to see in the mayor's office. At this point, she's working to build the grass roots campaign, walking neighborhoods and making phone calls to citizens. She wants to cut the property and restaurant tax. Stothert says her experience on the City Council the past four years qualifies her for mayor.
"While others have been observing, saying what they would do if they became mayor, I've been the one down there every day addressing the issues."
Candidate Dave Nabity, an Omaha businessman, calls her approach irresponsible. "I think committing, making the kind of commitments that she is doing without having all the facts, is not showing true leadership. Nabity's goals are reforming the city's planning department as well as addressing the violence and fixing the pension shortfall.
"We got a strategic plan, it's like running a race, you can't really worry about what anybody else is doing, you run your race, you do your plan, so we got a lot of things planned."
The Omaha mayoral primary election is April 2nd. The top two finishers will move on to the general election in May.