Election 2022: Open letter fires up Douglas County Sheriff’s race

The race for Douglas County Sheriff is heating up again after raised questions about one of the candidates.
Published: Jul. 13, 2022 at 9:15 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - An open letter is the latest entry into what’s becoming one of the more heated political races in the Omaha-metro: Who will be the next Douglas County Sheriff?

The story has a number of layers.

Greg Gonzalez is the Democratic candidate for Douglas County Sheriff, and he resigned his job as deputy chief of the Omaha Police Department in January saying he was focusing on the race.

Aaron Hanson, the Republican candidate, is an OPD Gang Unit sergeant.

On Wednesday, Tim Dunning — the man who led the Sheriff’s Office for a quarter-century and retired two years ago — raised questions about one of the candidates.

In his open letter, Dunning — who is a Republican and plans to endorse Hanson — questions whether Deputy Chief Greg Gonzalez really retired from OPD in January or if he did so for the reasons he said, or if he did it because he knew he was going to be fired.

A spokesperson for Gonzalez told 6 News that the letter is a political smear and retribution, calling Dunning a “shadow spokesperson” for the Hanson For Sheriff campaign.

In Dunning’s letter, he quotes from a state lawsuit filed earlier this year by Gonzalez’s wife, Kathy Belacastro-Gonzalez, a former Omaha Police Captain of the southeast precinct. The police chief fired her in May; she’s fighting it in federal court.

Belacastro-Gonzalez alleges that OPD Chief Todd Schmaderer retaliated against her when she wasn’t promoted a few years ago. In the latest round of court documents, the city alleges she was emailing confidential police personnel information to her personal email account as well as confidential emails she received from her husband.

She says in court documents that she was merely saving the emails for her lawsuits so the information didn’t disappear.

In this latest wrinkle in the Gonzalez-Hanson race, 6 News learned that after a membership meeting Tuesday night, the Omaha Police Union will ask Gonzalez and his wife to answer questions about the email allegations before a trial board to consider whether they will be allowed to remain as members of the organizations.

Read Dunning’s open letter

Read the response letter from GFS campaign

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