His 35 years of practicing law has allowed Alan Thelen to acquire knowledge in many different areas.
Thelen believes that vast experience will be beneficial when he takes over as Papillion’s City Attorney in August.
After spending the past 29 years with the City of Omaha Law Department, Thelen has accepted a new challenge as Karla Rupiper’s replacement as city attorney. Thelen’s appointment was approved unanimously during the May 21 Papillion City Council meeting.
Thelen will begin work with the city on Monday and will take over as the city attorney when Rupiper’s retirement becomes official in August.
Papillion Mayor David Black said Thelen’s appointment makes sense for the city.
“We are excited for Alan to join our team,” Black said. “He has extensive legal background with the City of Omaha that makes him a great fit for this position.”
For nearly 30 decades, Thelen served the law department in Omaha in a number of facets.
“I started as a trial lawyer, which was good training for me because it taught me how to think logically and anticipate things that could go wrong,” he said. “A lot of that involved representing the police department, so I’m hoping I can use that experience in Papillion.
“I also worked with both the public works and planning departments drafting agreements and forming templates to use.”
Papillion City Council members Tom Mumgaard and Bob Stubbe both have a history of working with Thelen and were quick to endorse him.
“I worked with Alan for many years on a day-to-basis,” said Mumgaard, who spent 34 years with the Omaha Law Department.
“You could always rely on Alan and he always knew what he was talking about.”
Stubbe, the Public Works Director for the City of Omaha, echoed Mumgaard’s statements.
“Alan has always been there to assist,” Stubbe said. “He was a valuable asset to us and will be the same here.”
Although he had nearly three decades invested into the Omaha Law Department, Thelen was excited when a new opportunity presented itself.
“Tom (Mumgaard) actually brought the opening to my attention and I talked to a lot of people within the city,” he said. “The more I learned, the more excited I got. I enjoyed my time in Omaha, but I’m ready for a new adventure.”
While Papillion continues to grow, Thelen realizes the dynamics coming from a city of 450,000 will be far different to those he will encounter in Papillion.
“The biggest difference will be in real estate development,” he said. “In Omaha, you were dealing with older neighborhoods and developing places that already existed. You’ve got more open fields in Papillion, which will offer a different style of development.
“I’ve always thought Papillion was a well-run city and from everything I’ve heard and read, it’s going to continue to grow.”
Thelen is grateful he will have about six weeks to shadow Rupiper and learn the various ins and outs of the daily operation.
“It’s going to be very valuable to follow Karla along,” he said. “She will be a great aid to me to see how things are done. This is much more preferable then me coming in cold.”