Annexed Bellevue voters left out of local election

Voters in a newly annexed Bellevue neighborhood will have a surprise when they see the ballot next Tuesday.
Published: Nov. 1, 2022 at 10:37 PM CDT
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BELLEVUE, Neb. (WOWT) - Voters in a newly annexed Bellevue neighborhood will have a surprise when they see the ballot on Tuesday.

Some neighbors who voted early are already feeling left out. One word is causing an election controversy.

A retired veteran, Jim Okins knows his American history.

“Yeah I think we went to war over that many years ago,” Jim said. “Taxation without representation.”

But Jim tells his neighbors they can’t fight the state election law.

“A major issue that needs to get resolved at the state level.”

Newly annexed Normandy Hills is not on the Bellevue city ballot.

”It’s not the best,” said voter David Aderemi. “I mean we pay taxes we should have representation. we should be able to vote.”

Just south of town, Normandy Hills officially became part of Bellevue on June 2.

Some Normandy Hills voters see how their tax money is being spent by the City of Bellevue. Patching their residential streets. But now they want to know how their first chance to vote in a city election for an office like the mayor, fell through the cracks.

Bellevue’s City Administrator tells the Mayor that one law states all annexations must be complete five months before an election, giving Normandy Hills a one-week pad.

But Sarpy County Election Commissioner Emily Ethington tells 6 News that Bellevue went by the statute that’s meant for villages.

First-class cities like Bellevue must have annexations done five months prior to any primary election, making Normandy Hills’ annexation months too late, and its several hundred voters don’t get a city ballot.

“This has been communicated to the City of Bellevue before even prior to me taking office, they should have known,” Sarpy County Election Commissioner Emily Ethington said.

6 News asked the Bellevue City Administrator if they should have known it was primary.

“There was no interpretation to tell us primary, so no we didn’t drop the ball,” said Bellevue City Administrator Jim Ristow. “We read it as the word election, so we defined it as going toward the general election.”

Any fingerpointing aside, Bellevue Mayor Rusty Hike has a billboard and flyers in Normandy Hills where no voter can vote for him or his opponent Tom Burns.

“If there are 400 voters in that block and the race is a close race, it is obviously a big deal,” Hike said.

“The citizens are losing their rights,” Burns said. “They’re not going to be able to vote for a mayor, they are paying Bellevue property taxes and that is a tragedy.”

Residents of Normandy Hills who pay taxes to Bellevue can talk about their choice for mayor but this election they can’t vote for either one.

“I didn’t feel very good about that,” one voter said.

“That’s good let them have it,” another voter said.

Another issue on the ballot gives Bellevue permission to spend development funds anywhere in the city instead of a specific area. Normandy Hills voters can’t vote on that either.

While the annexation may change things at this time, the council district they fall under wasn’t up for election.