Some notable names in Omaha philanthropy, business and education are on the list of 11 candidates the City Council is considering for an open seat on the Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority board.
The list includes Susie Buffett, philanthropist and daughter of Warren Buffett, and developer Jay Noddle, who already has the backing of several significant business leaders.
The council will likely vote in the next few weeks on a replacement for Jamie Gutierrez Mora, the former MECA board member who resigned last month amid questions about her residency and voter registration.
Council President Pete Festersen said he and other council members are looking to clarify the requirements for board members, but plan to make an appointment before any major changes are made.
This week, the council closed the application process and began what Festersen called a “deliberate and thorough process” to narrow down the list to a preferred candidate.
The council's options for the prominent board, which oversees the CenturyLink Center and TD Ameritrade Park, also include:
» Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado, professor of political science at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
» Brenda Christensen, community volunteer.
» Frank Hayes, certified public accountant.
» Clifford Herd, former Omaha City Councilman and owner of dental supply companies.
» William “Bruce” McCoy, retired school administrator.
» Anna Scherr Nubel, assistant vice president for alumni relations at Creighton University.
» Kent Pavelka, president of a public relations firm and broadcaster.
» Paul Smith, vice chairman of energy company Tenaska and CEO of Tenaska Capital Management.
» Anthony Sorrentino, certified public accountant and attorney with SilverStone Group.
Festersen said several of the candidates submitted their own names, while some were suggested by council members or outside groups.
The Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce has written a letter of support for Noddle, the only candidate to have multiple letters submitted on his or her behalf. In addition to the chamber, Noddle has the backing of James Landen, chairman and CEO of Security National Bank; Douglas County Commissioner Mary Ann Borgeson; Kiewit chairman emeritus Ken Stinson, Bank of the West midwest division executive Robert Dalrymple; and developer and former Omaha Mayor P.J. Morgan.
To determine who is qualified to serve on the board, council members will follow the considerations of City Attorney Paul Kratz, Festersen said. Kratz investigated Gutierrez Mora's residency and eligibility and determined she was not a “resident elector” of Douglas County, as required by a development agreement between the city and MECA.
Festersen said the council will continue to use the “resident elector” qualification, at least for the time being. The candidate selected for the position will also be required to sign an oath that their service with MECA would not conflict with any personal or professional interest.
Meanwhile, the city's legal department is looking into revising the rules about residency and conflicts of interest to make them more clear, Festersen said.
“They haven't given us a time frame yet, but it may take some time,” he said. “It's a fairly complicated situation we're trying to correct.”