Omaha Mayoral Duties Ordinance to See November 2022 Ballot

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(Omaha, NE) -- Omaha residents will vote on a change to the City Charter this fall involving Mayoral duties.

On the ballot in November will be an ordinance to alter the process for determining if the Council President needs to take over if a Mayor is disabled or unable to perform the Mayor's duties. If Omahans vote in favor of the measure, the Council President will assume the duties of the office of Acting Mayor.

If the Mayor or the Mayor's Cabinet gives the City Clerk written notice that the Mayor is unable to fulfill the duties of the Office of Mayor, the Council President will become Acting Mayor until the Mayor gives a written notice proving otherwise.

The Omaha City Council was also considering an out-of-town amendment to the ordinance that would have given the Omaha Mayor the power to work remotely for up to five days a year. Omaha Councilmember Danny Begley showed the city council pictures of storm damage when Mayor Jean Stothert was out of town last year.

"My position isn't partisan on this, it is based on the principle that I believe we should have boots on the ground in the pictures I showed people that happened when the Mayor was out of town," says Begley. "I'm not faulting the Mayor, any Mayor, for being out of town. I believe that, in this case it would be Council President Festersen, would be eyes and boots on the ground, in communication with the Mayor. To me, that's what people deserve."

Begley voted "yes" by mistake on the measure August 23rd, but voted "no" August 30th. The amendment was rejected in a 4-3 decision. Omaha Councilmember Aimee Melton voted in favor of the amendment, stating the people of Omaha should have the final say on the Mayor's duties.

"All of these should go on a ballot. That's what the Charter Convention is about. It should go to the vote of the people. All of you get to have a vote on it. If you don't like it, vote no," says Melton. "The point of having a Charter Convention is so it's not just this city council that sits up here everyday that makes all the decisions for all of you, all the time."

The approved ordinance also allows for an increase in the Cash Reserve Fund from 8% to 12% and increases the monetary amount that requires public bidding and City Council action from $20,000 to $50,000. The full ordinance can be found here and the rejected amendment here.

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