The open seat on the Omaha City Council is an opportunity.
With Chuck Sigerson’s resignation earlier this week, the seat, held by a Republican, will give the new member a plum spot, without re-election until 2013. Considering that campaigning (and fund raising, etc.) is often the most distasteful part of holding office, getting this placement can be a real deal.
And that’s why we would be a bit amazed if the local Dems would toss this opportunity to put in one of their own.
Joe Jordan has taken the lead on this issue on his Nebraska Watchdog blog to run a few names up the flagpole.
He tossed out both former Omaha Mayor candidate Dave Friend, as well as his cousin Mike Friend — both Republicans. And the name of Chuck Sigerson’s son Andy was also tossed out there, though he apparently does not live in the district.
But Jordan followed that story up with the memory of a Republican being placed in the County Attorney spot when Democrat Jim Jansen retired. He quotes David Kramer saying at the time, “It is my job to see that Republicans are elected and (picked) when there are opportunities to get appointed.”
And frankly, that’s true.
But the situation of Jansen and Sigerson isn’t necessarily apples to apples. Jansen left to go into private practice. Like it or not, that’s a political calculation when you’re in elective office. But not only was Sigerson forced out by illness, he is still around! One would think the rest of the Council might ask who he thinks should replace the recently re-elected office holder.
So, who do we got?
Well, you’ve heard Mike Friend. And there’s Dave Friend — a former cop who just might have some sway with fellow former cop, Council President Gary Gernandt.
Then we’ve heard…Douglas County Board member, Kyle Hutchings!
Hutchings, 55, is retiring from the Board this year (and former Omaha Mayor — and Board member — P.J. Morgan is running for his seat). He told the OWH back in September of last year that he “plans to focus on his family and his lighting business”.
But maybe Hutchings just didn’t want to deal with campaigning. Having that out of the way would certainly take a load off the fam and the biz.
And word has it that Hutchings’s buddy on the board, Democrat Mike Boyle, may just try to grease the skids with the Dems on the Council.
So back to the Dems. We’ve heard there are a few others, maybe on Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle’s staff, that are interested.
We’ve heard name of former state Democrat party Black Caucus chair, Robin Quarles thrown around. (And you’d have to think that having another woman on the Council would be something Dems would want to consider.)
And just for the heck of it, the name of Denny Esch — father of Congressional candidate Jim Esch — was mentioned as someone who could be interested.
(Though we would note that ALL names listed are purely speculative. If any of the above mentioned would like their names unmentioned, as it were, we would be happy to oblige.)
So what say you, readers? Is this an opportunity for the Dems? Should they take that opportunity and run with it — hoping that person can then get re-elected in 2013?
Or do they owe it to Sigerson and his constituents to put in a GOPer?
Or frankly, do they go with someone like Hutchings, on the assumption that he would leave an open seat in 2013 and give them a new chance?
Or does anyone believe that party politics won’t be involved in this choice?
And just a final note:
Dave Heineman, Mike Johanns, Lee Terry, Jeff Fortenberry and Adrian Smith all were City Council members.
Something to think about.