Omaha City Councilman Chris Jerram made it official Wednesday, announcing that he’s running for re-election.
Jerram, currently the council’s vice president, has represented City Council District 3 since 2009.
He launched his pursuit of a third term in the parking lot of a new Dundee Bank branch in the former McFoster’s Natural Kind Cafe building at 38th and Farnam Streets. That’s in the resurgent Blackstone area of midtown Omaha. It’s one of several neighborhoods — including downtown, Little Italy, South 10th Street, Leavenworth Street and Park Avenue — in Jerram’s district that have experienced what he called “explosive redevelopment” in recent years.
Jerram said Blackstone was plagued not long ago by vacant storefronts, empty lots with a “one-way, high-speed exit at nighttime for commuters going home from work.” He said he led an effort to convert Farnam Street to a two-way street, helped business owners collaborate and organize a Business Improvement District and persuaded former Mayor Jim Suttle and current Mayor Jean Stothert that the city should be financially involved.
“You have to be willing to lead,” Jerram said. “It’s not easy to redevelop parts of your city. It takes time and perseverance. It takes technical know-how and determination. ... It takes being a leader on city investment.”
Jerram noted that he was a sponsor of the city’s 3 percent tobacco tax to help pay for the $323 million Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. That wasn’t easy, but the cancer center will pay dividends for the community for a long time, he said.
Jerram said it will be a challenge to keep Omaha and his district an affordable, welcoming and inclusive place to live.
He said he’ll continue to push for workforce development and that he’s “trying to champion” an effort that will spur redevelopment of affordable housing along mass transit corridors.
Jerram said he also wants to ensure that there are transportation alternatives for young professionals who want to walk, bike or ride mass transit to work.
He noted that Omaha has added nearly 100 police officers since he was first elected.
Jerram, 51, is a lawyer. A Democrat, he was first elected to the officially nonpartisan City Council in 2009.
One challenger, Republican Gilbert Ayala, who ran unsuccessfully for the Nebraska Legislature in 2016, has filed so far for the District 3 seat.
District 3 includes downtown, midtown and the Aksarben area. It was expanded last year to include parts of the Westside area, including Westgate and Loveland.
The City of Omaha primary is April 4. The general election will be May 9.