Omaha, NE.—As News Channel Nebraska first reported Nebraska Democrats are ready to term limit Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert, but we have now learned the party is divided.
After State Chair Jane Kleeb said they could have term limits on the Omaha ballot in 2020—keeping Stothert from a possible third term in 2021—some Omaha Democrats are saying no.
Omaha City Council President Ben Gray tells NCN, “I oppose term limits.”
(See Joe Jordan’s Full Video Report Above)
The Democrat’s stop-Stothert move is the fall-out from a petition drive attempting to term limit Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler—a Democrat— and send him packing next spring after 12 years in office.
“If they (term limit Beutler) we will apply the same citizen led effort in Omaha…Democrats believe in fairness,” says Kleeb.
But the head of the Douglas County Democrats disagrees. “What the Republicans are attempting to do to Mayor Beutler is wrong,” says Chairwoman Crystal Rhoades adding , “It would be equally inappropriate to pursue such a remedy against Stothert.”
A spokesman for the Nebraska Republican Party tells News Channel Nebraska that while the GOP is not behind the Lincoln petition drive, “The Nebraska Republican Party believes in term limiting our elected officials.” GOP Executive Director, Kenny Zoeller adds, “This is a bipartisan issue, as more Democrats (1,693) than Republicans (1,552) signed onto the petition in Lincoln.”
Stothert tells News Channel Nebraska, “Any limit of terms should allow for an intervening election to take place. That way, the petition is not directed toward a specific officeholder but at the office generally…Citizens can always term limit someone at the ballot box each election.”
So far Stothert hasn’t said she is running but hasn’t said she isn’t.
Shortly after she was re-elected in 2017, in comments to News Channel Nebraska, she left open the possibility that she could seek a third term in 2021. A recent fundraiser has only added fuel to that 3rd-term speculation.
“I like being mayor,” Stothert told NCN last year as she also noted that the city’s top executive office is not subject to term limits.
According to Kleeb, any term limit effort in Omaha would only target the mayor not the city council (the same strategy as Lincoln). Kleeb adds, “We have races to win in 2018 and we will focus on this after the election cycle.”