Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle says the centerpiece of his re-election campaign is public safety.
Suttle, who was elected in 2009, says that discussion needs to include more than just getting guns off the streets, especially following last December’s shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.
“The voters now see a need to do something, a very bold something nationally, and they’re going to expect that locally we look at the whole issue of guns and the access thereto, particularly by the individuals who should not have them. That’s the individuals who are involved, obviously, in the mental health side, those that are involved in any types of previous crimes or felonies, those who shouldn’t have any type of weaponry.”
Suttle’s office set up two task forces to deal with illegal guns and rundown properties, two areas his office says contribute to violence. Omaha ended 2012 with 40 homicides, and several gun amnesty events were held last year.
Two years ago, Suttle narrowly won a recall election. That election stemmed from dissatisfaction by groups opposed to new taxes implemented by Suttle’s administration, including a restaurant tax. That 2.5 percent tax is estimated to bring in $25 million in revenue this budget year. Suttle says Omaha has been fiscally responsible during his time in office.
“We’re in the black, we’re going to stay there, the business principles are loud and clear that I have incorporated in to City Hall, and the services are being delivered. If we have this comfort factor for the citizens and for the commercial industries as well as the heavy industries, then we will have a city that’s ready to focus on growth and prosperity.”
Suttle says job creation and economic development are key to making Omaha safer. That includes plans for turning Crossroads Mall in to a mixed-use development, something Suttle hopes will be complete in 2015.
Omaha’s economic development led Suttle on an international business trip last summer. During that trip, he suffered a minor stroke, and was hospitalized for several days when he returned to Omaha. But Suttle says he’s in great health, and wants another four years in office.
“I’ve always felt that I wanted to do two terms, and I base that on my performance, quite frankly, and my health, and my stamina, and both are one thousand percent great, and so we’re ready to do a second term and continue the success story that we have established for the city of Omaha.”
He says 15,000 to 20,000 new jobs could be created in the next four years.
Omaha's primary election is April 2.