Is Mayor Jean Stothert entertaining another run for Omaha’s top elected office?
Stothert’s comments at a Wednesday fundraiser held in her honor fueled speculation.
“While I don’t have a campaign now, saving up for one is the smart thing to do,” she said in prepared remarks, which were provided to The World-Herald.
“And,” she added, “if you didn’t know this, just remember, there are no term limits for the office of mayor of Omaha.”
Stothert, a Republican, made history when she was elected Omaha’s first female mayor in 2013. She was re-elected last year and is just finishing the first year of her second term.
Running for a third four-year term would mean Stothert could hold the mayor’s title for 12 years. The next Omaha mayoral election is in 2021.
Stothert, 64, did not return requests to be interviewed for this story.
But Hal Daub, a former Republican Omaha mayor who attended Stothert’s packed fundraiser at Happy Hollow Country Club, said her comments “were indicative of how much she enjoys her work.”
“And from that, one might presume, assume or conclude that she would like to continue to be mayor of the city for the foreseeable future, if the voters would have her,” he said. “But she didn’t make any announcement about her future political intentions.”
In her remarks, Stothert said she loves her job. She said that city budgeting has gone smoothly and has been “less contentious” under her administration, among other improvements she saw across the city.
Stothert called the planned riverfront redevelopment an endeavor that will be “one of the most significant projects in Omaha’s history.” It’s expected to wrap up in 2022.
She said that “while I am not running for office now,” she has political expenses that need to be covered by campaign funds. That includes occasional travel for political matters and the cost of maintaining a political organization, she said.
“Starting out way ahead in fundraising gave us a big boost against (last year’s mayoral challenger) Heath Mello and allowed me to focus much of my time to my job as mayor,” she said. “So that’s why we’re here tonight, and I appreciate each and every one of you.”
She was introduced by GOP Rep. Don Bacon and took questions following her prepared comments.
Daub described the event as an annual fundraiser.
Omaha City Council members Aimee Melton and Brinker Harding, both Republicans, also attended Stothert’s fundraiser. Melton said she’d love to serve on the council with Stothert in the mayor’s seat again and has encouraged Stothert to run for another term.
City Councilman Rich Pahls, a Republican on the nonpartisan council, wasn’t at Stothert’s fundraiser. He said Stothert has moved the city ahead.
Pahls said he doesn’t mind working with her even though the two have disagreed on some issues.
“Nobody comes up to me and says, ‘Hey, we need to find a new person (for mayor),’ ” he said. “No one.”
Daub said Stothert may have other political interests or decide to do something different. Stothert and her husband, Joe, now have two grandchildren, he noted.
“I would encourage her to seriously consider running for a third time,” Daub said. “She has earned it.”