Thursday, March 12, 2009

City Council-ing

The Primary for Omaha Mayor is coming up on April 7th. A few of you also know that voters get to choose candidates for each City Council District that day as well.

"Whaaa?" you say. Oh yeah. There are slew of candidates for City Council, and in the next few weeks you will hear a bunch of names that will become trivia contest answers when you've got your elbows on the bar the following week.

But, in the mean time, we here on Leavenworth Street will try (try) to give you sort of a brief rundown of the races. (WOWT Channel 6 has a nice summary of each candidate and their links here. ) But of the seven City Council Districts (all up), only two of them will have contested primaries -- where there are more than two candidates. And of those two, there is only one, frankly, that we know what to do with.

** UPDATE: Note that all fund raising numbers below are based upon the latest NADC reports, and reflect only the period of 1/1/09 - 3/3/09.**


The main contest will take place in District 3, Jim Vokal's present district. It stretches from the river to 72nd Street, and is (roughly) bordered on the north by Cuming St. and (roughly) on the south by Center St. (See a full map here.) 

Your candidates (in alphabetic order) are:
Brian Buescher
Steve Cross
Jim Farho
Chris Jerram
Chip Maxwell
Crystal Rhoades

Now we put up each candidate's logo there (or an estimation of it) (Cross's may be coming), because City Council is one of those goofy elections where yard-signs can matter. In the races like President or Senate, while everyone loves them a yard sign, the name ID is so high that they really don't have much effect. But in a City Council race of unknowns?

Probably the biggest factor a candidate can make is actually walking door to door. Then direct mail and phone calls. Radio and TV are trickier for these offices, but can be effective if you have some cash. But yard-signs can be an interesting test of support and provide more name ID in these types of races. Keep a lookout for those logos.

In any case, while we hate to do a breakdown of "who will win" right now, there will are a few interesting factors:

There are three big names in this race: Chip Maxwell, Brian Buescher and Chris Jerram.

Maxwell is a former State Senator and Douglas County Commissioner. In November 2008, he lost a bitter, close race for re-election to the board to former Omaha City Councilman Marc Kraft. To see just how much that still affects Maxwell, see the "Record" part of his webpage where he knocks all the points that Kraft made against him in that campaign. He probably feels that he has to address those point that were made just a few months ago -- though it makes for sort of a different account of his record.

In theory here, Maxwell will be bumping heads with Brian Buescher. Buescher is a lawyer with Kutak Rock, and is a former chair of the Douglas County GOP. Buescher declared early for this race and has been garnering cash and support -- raising over $25K (with $21K COH), to Maxwell's $11K (with $1300 COH).

Now the "battle" between those two could be for the heart of the GOP voters. But then again, while Vokal defeated Ann Boyle in this district, it isn't exactly a GOP enclave. Maxwell's name ID is arguably higher, and if he can soak that, he could have a shot.

The other major candidate here is Chris Jerram. Jerram is (another) lawyer, and former head of the Douglas County Democrats. Jerram has solid support among the local Dems, and has also some solid fund raising -- $31K (with $28K COH).

The only thing that could muck things up for Jerram a little are the candidacies of Jim Farho and Crystal Rhoades. While both are political newbies, they are both very involved in their neighborhood associations, and have each raised around $5K. And both are Democrats. Assuming that they won't make it to the final two, can their campaigns leach enough off of Jerram's support to kick up Maxwell and Buescher?

It will be an interesting night on April 7th for District 3.

Oh, and Steve Cross? We emailed Steve, and he was a little miffed that he didn't have more notice to get his info to us. He responded "I read books, not blogs and I surely have never heard of this particular one." Ouch!  (We will update once we receive.)

**UPDATE** See the link for Cross's site above!


The other main contested Primary is in North Omaha's District 2. Ben Gray, James English and Cheryl Weston are taking on Councilman Frank Brown.

This race should easily come down to Brown vs Gray. And while we would give incumbent Brown the advantage (with $11K COH),  we wouldn't count out Gray who is raising a little cash himself ($5K from Wally Weitz, and a grand apiece from Susan Buffett and Mike Yanney) ($4K COH). It could be one to watch come May. 


Some of the other races will be interesting, but don't really kick in until after the primary (though don't tell the candidates that):

The race for outgoing Councilman Dan Welch's District 5 between Jean Stothert and Jon Blumenthal is already a battle. Heck you mention macrame and coffee here on Leavenworth Street and somehow if turns into a Stothert versus Blumenthal diatribe in the comments section.

We don't discourage it, mind you, but their supporters love to mix it up. Both of them are working doubletime to capture the flag in May, but in the mean time we'll just let them box it out in the streets.

West Omaha's District 6 between incumbent Franklin Thompson and former Mayoral aide Walt Peffer could be interesting if Peffer puts some effort into it.

On the face of it, we have to guess that Mayoral aide Pete Festerson will walk away with Jim Suttle's old District 1, Gary Gernandt will handle his reelection in District 4 and of course Chuck Sigerson will laugh at all those hustling around from his uncontested District 7.


OK commenters! We're guessing there are a few opinions out there on all of these folks. Have at it.

Just be civil, no swearing, and try to use a name other than Anonymous...

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3rd floor watcher said... Good analysis on the match-ups Sweeper!!! I think someone else is covering District 5..(the blog that shall not be

Street Sweeper said...

We'll get to it in due time...

3rd floor watcher said...

Not a criticism, Sweep!!! I love you man (woman or it)!!!!

Anonymous said...

If you look at Maxwell's unpaid debt, he is actually about 2K in the hole.

Anonymous said...

Blumenthal's campaign logo is awful. I saw his yard signs and thought that they were for a home security system.

Live from CC3 said...

Let's see. Accourding to Sweeper's keys to victory in CC 3:

Door to door: Hands down Buescher. He's been to my door and to several friends around the district.
Direct Mail: I have already received a Buescher mailing. Very impressive. Jerram has money to do mail and I expect he will.
Phone Calls: I've receieved a call from a Buescher and Maxwell volunteer. Buescher first and better.
Yard Signs: Buescher has yard signs everywhere in the district. Center street is plastered. Others have smatterings here and there from what I have seen. I heard Jerram is calling Jim Esch's yard sign list.
TV and Radio: Only Buescher and Jerram have enough money to run effective radio but it wouldn't be wise.

NE Voter said...

Most of Buescher's main-drag sign coverage is rental property. Judging from the looks of some of those places, I'd say Buescher has the slumlord and meth lab vote lcoked up.

Anonymous said...

So, Blumenthal was spotted having coffee with the Terry $ people this morning for coffee....


Anonymous said...

After all the work Jean did for Lee Terry, does he know that his whole staff is helping Blumenthal??

Anonymous said...

Both Buescher and Jerram have some yet unexposed "baggage" that will come to light very soon.

Anonymous said...

Well, if the Terry money people are going to save Blumenthal, they'd better hurry up. Stithert out raised him 3:1 ($38K to $12K) from January 1 and is still at it.

A number of Blumenthal's original contributors have now jumped on board with Stothert.Don't forget that $10K of his 2008 contributions were from his own pockets.

He'd better stop melting down in public too! First the Millard South spectacle and then last weekend he was screaming at Jean Stothert as they both walked door to door on the same street. "We can't have this! We can't have this!" he yelled with a voter at the door!!

He's a loose cannon who has been losing support. Wait until he goes nagative and gets absolutely blasted.

Anonymous said...

Annon 3:12
Are you hinting that Chip Maxwell is going to go negative on Buescher?

Oh, I'd like to see that! Maxwell tosses his good guy image to attack someone who has helped him in the past and he is toast!

Anonymous said...

This is nit-picking, but I think Blumenthal's signs are the ugliest I've ever seen. I'm expecting some exterminator company from the 1950's to sue him for infringement. Simply awful.

District 3 watcher said...

Anonymous 3:12 PM, March 12, 2009 said

"Both Buescher and Jerram have some yet unexposed "baggage" that will come to light very soon."

Is it the same unexposed baggage that the current councilman from district 3 has???????

Anonymous said...

Annon 3:44

Blumenthal's bigger signs are illegal too. They are too big and violate the code for that type of sign.

I am surprised they haven't made them take them all down. I sure hope he doesn't expect city crews to do it for him. Talk about undo taxpayer expense.

Anonymous said...

What Terry money people are working for Blumenthal?

Unlike Jim Esch, Chip Maxwell is running for a different office, thus no debt on his City Council campaign, I have no idea if he has debt from his County Board race.

As for Frank Brown, if we all sent Ben Gray a few bucks, we could get rid of him before he turns into the Ernie of the Council!

I like Anonymous! Please don't make me change my identity!!!

Live from CC 3 said...

Maxwell's County Board Committee was closed. So, are you telling me he didn't pay that debt?

Look at Maxwell's current report. He has $1335.97 cash on hand. He has $2921.12 listed as unpaid debt.

For the period (Jan 1 - March 3) he raised $11,150. He spent $13,193.04.

Look at the reports. He closed his County Board Committee and transfered everything over to the CC Committee. Standard practice. You move COH and if any, debt.

I'm not saying Maxwell is a bad guy. The question is, why would someone give him money when they know it going to be needed to pay off debt and not to the current campaign? I sure don't think he'd leave the people he owes high and dry.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the whole Millard South thing is a farce. Just ask John. I did when he visited my neighborhood and he gave a very detailed explanation of what happened.

Just like I bet the whole yelling thing is a absolute farce.

Yeah, lets be negative, act like Washington. Jean - have ulterior motives?? Want to run for that Congressional seat??? Already getting the negative campaigning down - that's for sure.

Besides, I know of 1 Congressional Staffer and 1 Campaign Staffer of significant importance who are assisting with Blumenthal's campaign.

Anonymous said...

Good old Festerson needs a job after he lost his. Give him some work.

Anonymous said...

Does Maxwell really have a good guy image? He mostly just seems smug to me.

Anonymous said...

Annon 5:55

You can check with the Millard South Admin. abour the Millard South adventure. Not ONE night...but TWO nights consecutively.

I'm sure someone could dig up the exact voter who's door Blumenthal was at when he yelled at Stothert in the street.

You can't make that kind stuff up.

Anonymous said...

You mean Molly Lloyd is helping Blumenthal???? Does Lee know???

Anonymous said...


U.S. Senator Dave Karnes
Fmr. U.S. Congressman John Y. McCollister

Speaker of the Legislature Mike Flood
Senator Brad Ashford
Senator Tim Gay
Senator Chris Langemeier
Senator Scott Lautenbaugh
Senator Beau McCoy
Senator John E. Nelson
Senator Rich Pahls
Senator Pete Pirsch
Fmr. Senator Curt Bromm
Fmr. Senator Pam Brown
Fmr. Senator Mick Mines

They all Support Jean Stothert

Anonymous said...

"Some people think I am kind of nuts." - Hal Daub

(on Joe Jordan's blog)

confused voter said...

Ask them if Jean owes them anything. Oh yeah, they won't answer truthfully.

Furthermore, I can tell you there are more than just Lloyd helping Blumenthal.

Gotcha said...

For you Anon 5:55
Directly from Jon Blumenthal's Facebook Wall on January 31

Jon Blumenthal will not be outworked . . . but was kicked out of the Millard South-Millard West game for "campaigning on school grounds." Seems like a silly rule to me!

January 31 at 10:06pm ·

confused voter said...

I'm confused. Jean has all of the endorsements, most of the money, and the best campaign manager with a PROVEN track record...why are the Blumenthal people touting Lee Terry Staffers??? This smells like a Vokal campaign manuver.

Anonymous said...

Everyone knows that Stothert doesn't stand a chance once people find out the truth that she's once of those Michael Steele "choice" Republicans.

millard repub said...

That's a great endorsement list Jean . . . I'm sure the support of State Senators from Norfolk, Blair, and Wahoo are very important to the people Millard.

It doesn't matter how much money she raises; no amount of money can cover up her record. She voted to raise property taxes on the Millard School Board multiple times and is pro-choice. Jean is just too liberal for us in Millard.

Anonymous said...

Voter at 9:34 -

Clearly you are confused. Who is this Stothert campaign manager with a proven track record? Isn't it the same one who helped her lose the race last time?

And I'm pretty sure it was McGrain who worked to elect about one-third of the state senators Stothert is touting for endorsements. Seems a little more proven to me.

Anonymous said...

Are you sure anonymous above? Let's talk about after Berryman and Mines left the scene!!! Oh we forgot about the Lorenzen firing!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm laughing because anyone would think Terry staffers matter. Really? How? Have they ever made themselves relevant. Oh that's right--they haven't.

The question is how many times/years can Terry and his staff expect help to swoop in and win his elections for him?
Pure talent and poltical power--I think not.

Anonymous said...


Probably the one who came on board AFTER the primary election in 2006 and brought Stothert back from 18 points down to win on election night - but lose on provisional ballots.

millard repub said...

Jean Stothert lost the race for Legislature because she is too liberal. She was to the left of Lathrop.

Jean supports public funding of abortions and raised taxes on the Millard School Board. She is just too liberal for Millard!!!

Anonymous said...

To Millard Repub: you are a broken record and no one believes you. Jean is conservative and SUPPORTED by Conservatives.

Anonymous said...

If Millard Repub (aka Mike Skinner) has his wasy, we would be one -city with the most poorly run school district in the state (OPS).

It's good to see Skinner drinks the Lathrop Koolaid.

Stothert is Pro-life...period. That claim is rediculous.

Millard Schools tax rate is 19.3% lower than when Stothert took office. The rate at which Millard levis is as low as state law allows.

Anonymous said...

Yeah right. Stothert is so "pro-life" that the Nebraska Right to Life refused to endorse her. People will start to see the truth very soon.

Anonymous said...

Jean Stothert once told me she supported abortion because she was a nurse and didn't want to see anymore back alley abortions. That doesn't sound very pro-life.

That was her honest answers before the consultants and party people cleaned up her rhetoric.

Maxwell! said...

Chip Maxwell is the best candidate for his council district. Far from being smug - he is passionate, fair, hard-working, earnest, honest - all the things we want our public servants to be.

And he is going door-to-door all day everyday to a district he has already represented. Don't forget he was an independent when he was first elected to the Unicameral - meaning he is very well suited to represent such a mixed district.

It will be great to have him on the council - he will really work to build coalitions to get problems solved. Go Chip!

millard repub said...

Jean said she supports using tax dollars to pay for abortion. That is just too liberal. I am pro-life and don't want my tax dollars being used to kill the unborn - Jean does!

Jean had the choice not to voter for higher taxes, but she chose to grow government and raise taxes.

You can't dispute Jean's liberal record.

Amazing>>> said...

To Anonymous at 3:42 pm: Yea that's right Anonymous, I was there too and Jean Stothert also stated she sacrifices dogs, cats, and little children every full moon to appease the Blood God at the Black Angel Statue in Council Bluffs. She also runs over little old ladies with her SUV and plays with a OUJA Board at midnight. Isn't it great what things you can say on an anonymous blog!!!!

Anonymous said...

Believe what you want, but it's true. And while I do disagree with her unfiltered position I'd say she was speaking about her personal experience as a nurse - which would certainly be a difficult and unique perspective.

I'm not sure her opponent would really carry the pro-life banner either.

I just think candidates should be HONEST about their positions instead of pandering to the por-life community - which I suspect they are both doing.

Anonymous said...

So, Millard Repub, are you for your tax dollars going to sex education programs, more contraceptives available, programs to help women who become pregnant and are bailed on by the men who make them pregnant?? I can respect your pro-life position, if you walk the walk and talk the talk. How many unwanted babies have you adopted?

Anonymous said...


Focus on crime, pension, jobs, streets, tourism, etc....

get away from your morality debates please!

Anonymous said...

why are no city council candidates willing to show some courage and stand up to all the illegal immigrants in south Omaha. When will we start to crack down! These people are destroying our economy, raising our taxes, and changing our culture. Whoever says they will be in favor of cracking down on illegals will get my vote and a big campaign donation. comprende?

Anonymous said...

We all know Jean is going to be looking for work after the election. She'd be a great replacement for Chris Funk's old job.

Anonymous said...

Maxwell seems to think he deserves this seat instead of earning it like Buescher.

Anonymous said...

Maxwell is not a very compassionate person based on my interactions with him. He refused to listen to me and threw invalid opinions back in to my face in a rude way. He even changed the subject thinking that it was still the same thing, but he was incorrect. I will be ashamed of Omaha if he gets elected, but its just the city council and no one really knows any of these people.

Anonymous said...

Anon, 11:33

This is racism at its best. South Omaha has a vibrant business district that is thriving right now. Maybe you should get out of your west "O" shell and try to get some culture in your life. I love to frequent Jacobo's grocery; they have the best salsa and tamale's in town. Guaca Maya is also a great place. Are you threatened of their entrepreneurial spirit, their language, or their willingness to work hard to create business and jobs? Go down there some time, they are extremely friendly and will hopefully change your racist views.

Anonymous said...

Hal Daub has stated before that he supported cracking down on illegal immigration.

Anonymous said...

Hey 6:35, how does that jibe with Hal's support of the Bush Amnesty Plan from a couple years ago? Not exactly "cracking down."

Anonymous said...

I prefer Don Gaby's.

Was the conversation you had with Chip about being prolife and ethical in research?

Only one person that works for Congressman Terry is helping in a CC race and she is definitely unpaid because she cannot be paid. Lee Terry would never tell anyone that worked for him not to be civicly involved. Have you ever met him? Civic Involvement is what he was raised on and it seems to be what drives him.

The good part about all of this infighting during the Primary is that it will end on Day One of the General, or will it?

Sad, very sad. How about for the Party's sake we stick to the issues: Jobs, Crime, Economic Development and the ever so loved-TAXES?

Carry on.

giffordparkgal said...

I attended the Gifford Park candidates's forum last Thursday evening. All of the district three candidates attending were well spoken and attentive. I left the forum thinking Chip Maxwell had a better grip on our neighborhood's concerns and he gave the strong impression that he has the experience, having held office before, to get things done for us.

Anonymous said...

Wait, it was said before, (or maybe on that Dodgestreet blog) that no one should begrudge the Terry staffer for working on the Blumenthal campaign because she was "just making money for her family" or something like that. So, which is it? Is she being paid by Blumenthal or not?

Anonymous said...

I did talk to Chip about ethical research (stem cells) and he is trying his best to understand the science, but he doesn't. I don't want leaders who take hard stances on things they don't fully understand, thus I don't want him representing me or anyone in Omaha.

Street Sweeper said...

You're suggesting that a guy who WROTE A BOOK on the topic doesn't understand the science?

I'll venture that he has looked into it, just a little.

Anonymous said...

His arguments as a science make no sense. I am not saying that he is wrong ethically, but his science is wrong.

Street Sweeper said...

Feel free to be specific. That way he or anyone else can respond.

Anonymous said...

He uses the argument that adult stem cell transplants are an excuse not to do use ESCR. That is not the same thing at all. He says that induced adult stem cells are "scientifically superior" for research use to embryonic stem cells. They are not, in fact they are in the early stages of research and we just figured out how to make them. They often form cancers and are not perfect or even normal cells. This is great research, but it is nowhere near being a replacement for ESCR. We don't even know what is going on in these cells, how can we know that the ones that we made to act similar are superior?