Council turnover a guarantee

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Posted: Friday, January 10, 2014 12:00 am

Bellevue City Councilwoman Kathy Saniuk said Thursday she can no longer endure the “negativity” flowing from the public and the press and will decline to seek a third term.

“Although serving on the council can be rewarding, there are aspects of it that can be quite stressful,” she said. “I have reached my limit on the amount of negativity I can withstand, both from the public and from our local newspaper.”

Saniuk, who represents Ward II on the City Council, was elected to a two-year term in 2008 and re-elected to a four-year term in 2010.

She is the second member of the six-member Bellevue City Council to announce she won’t seek re-election this fall. Ward 4 Councilman Steve Knutson, also first elected in 2008, has also stated his intentions to not run.

At-large Councilwoman Carol Blood might also leave the body if she is elected to the Nebraska Legislature this fall. She has said she intends to seek the District 3 Legislature seat opened up by the resignation of Scott Price.

Price was re-elected in November 2012 to a four-year term ending in January 2017, but resigned last year in order to deal with family concerns.

If Blood wins the District 3 seat this November, she will serve the two years remaining on Price’s term and will be required to resign her council seat.

The two years remaining on her council term would then be filled either by mayoral appointment or through a special election.

The exodus from city government might stop with Mayor Rita Sanders, who said Friday that she is leaning toward seeking a second term, but has not made a final decision.

She said the family business, Richmont Village retirement community, is undergoing expansion and will require more attention in coming years. On the other hand, she said, the possible turnover of half the city council makes continuity critical.

Sanders said much will depend on what emerges from the city’s annual strategic planning meeting to be held Jan. 14.

“I want to see what the vision is for the future,” she said. “I want to listen and learn.”

She said her first term has been a learning experience.

“In four years you’ve just got it under your feet, and you’ve got your sea legs,” she said. “And I have to take into consideration there will be at least two new council members to deal with huge issues like the base and economic development.

“It’s not a decision I’m taking lightly, but I’m praying about it.”

According to records at the Sarpy County Election Commissioner’s Office, no one has yet filed for Saniuk’s Ward II seat, while a single candidate – Jim Moudry, a Republican – has filed to replace Knutson in Ward 4.

No mayoral challengers have yet emerged.

The primary election will be held May 13, with the general election set for Nov. 4.

Incumbents of any county office must file for election by Feb. 18, even if the office they seek is not the one they hold.

Challengers have until March 3.

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