The polls in Omaha opened at 8 this morning and voters are deciding who will be the next mayor and city council members. Douglas County Election Commissioner Brian Kruse is predicting a 31% voter turnout. He looks at several factors in determining that percentage.
Kruse says, “We look at historical data. We look at early voting numbers. Watching the media, the news, following the campaigns on social media and kind of getting a feel on how much activity is out there and kind of what interest level voters have.”
Kruse says there are about 4,000 early ballot requests that have not yet been returned. He says those voters have until 8 p.m. tonight to return those ballots to a drop box or to the commission office to be counted.
All eyes are what has been a contentious mayoral race. Incumbent Jean Stothert and former State Senator Heath Mello have many different ideas on how to run and manage the city. In debates over the past few weeks the big issues ranged from street repair, public safety, the restaurant tax to a streetcar system.
Voters will also be selecting new city council members. One interesting race is in District 3 where incumbent Chris Jerram is running against D’Shawn Cunningham. Cunningham was sentenced to 15 days in jail Monday after he was convicted of threatening his mother last summer. He was credited for time served so won’t have to go back to jail.
There are seven city council districts. Incumbents are running in five but new members will be selected in two. Former Elkhorn State Senator Dwite Pedersen is running in District 6.