Stothert juggling act takes center ring -
Published Sunday, June 16, 2013 at 12:30 am / Updated at 9:33 am
First week in office
Stothert juggling act takes center ring

Mayor Jean Stothert describes her first week in office as “enjoyable,” a challenge that's kept her on her toes.

“I'm tired,” she admits. “I haven't been getting a lot of sleep. But that's just part of the job.”

Stothert's first week was a flurry of private meetings and public appearances: a College World Series press conference, a Union Pacific women's leadership forum, a groundbreaking ceremony at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, a speech to the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, a merit badge ceremony for local Boy Scouts.

She also moved to craft her narrative as City Hall's reformer, after a campaign that promised voters straight talk and straight answers.

Some of last week's unscripted moments, though, sampled what Stothert will face during the next four years. It will be a balancing act governing according to her priorities and controlling her message while also addressing Omahans' wide array of demands.

“All the different groups that want to come in and see me and talk to me this week, it does take up a lot of time,” Stothert told The World-Herald. “I feel like I need to give them that time. ... But I need to spend time governing, too. That's what I'm elected to do.”

For now, some people are trying to understand and even shape her priorities.

“I'm a gay woman,” Catherine King, a Union Pacific employee, told Stothert on Wednesday during the mayor's appearance at U.P.'s conference. “And I truly don't understand your position on the issue of the needs of your gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens."

Stothert parried by saying she would uphold a city ordinance that protects gay and transgender people from discrimination in Omaha. She voted against that measure in 2012 but helped propose a nonbinding council resolution to oppose workplace discrimination.

Another example came hours into Stothert's first day, as the mayor gathered local media outside City Hall to tout changes to the Mayor's Office.

She said she cut the Mayor's Office staff from 13 to 11 positions, reducing costs by more than 10 percent. The City Council already approved her proposal to freeze her salary. Stothert's newly leased car also was on display.

But questions soon pivoted from city finances to Stothert's tense relationship with Fire Chief Mike McDonnell.

Stothert responded with her standard request that McDonnell retire.

At a Thursday ceremony for a new pharmacy center, outgoing UNMC Chancellor Harold Maurer introduced Stothert with a quip that she “promised to move Saddle Creek Road and install a light rail between UNMC and downtown Omaha” as the campus grows. Stothert is on record against streetcars or light rail being discussed for UNMC's neighborhood.

Stothert, who voted against a city tobacco tax that will funnel millions to UNMC's campus cancer center project, responded with a grin and a short address that praised the medical center's work and impact on the city.

The new mayor said listening to the city's different constituencies would help build public confidence in the Mayor's Office.

“I want to do everything I can to let people know that what's important to them is important to me,” Stothert said. “And that I'll listen to them and I'll be honest with them. I can't always say 'yes,' but when I say 'no,' they're going to know why and I'll give them a good explanation why.”

Contact the writer:


Video: Stothert says Crossroads project is 'full speed ahead,' but she won't support bond issue
96th Street to have head-to-head traffic
Ex-Obama official urges approval of Keystone XL pipeline
Benefit to be held for family of Omaha shooting victim
Omaha Personnel Board to weigh a ‘ban-the-box’ proposal for city job applications
New Alegent Creighton Clinic to open in Council Bluffs
Grace: Your older self has a request — use sunscreen
At NU's helm, J.B. Milliken built the university by building relationships with state leaders
Kelly: Huskers' glory days of '80s live on — on the small screen and on stage
Agreement reached to end dog racing at Bluffs Run at end of 2015
Beau McCoy calls Pete Ricketts a 'convenient conservative' for immigration stance
Police ID body found near 36th, Seward Streets
World champion Crawford's promoter working to have title defense at CenturyLink Center
Hail, strong winds, heavy rain hit south-central Nebraska
'Fairly old' human skull found in Mills County
Kelly: Started at a dining room table, Home Instead thriving at 20 with $1B in annual revenue
Omaha crash victim, 19, had touched many lives
Firefighters take on 'fully engulfed barn fire'
Council Bluffs school board approves new district headquarters
Officials announce effort to lure more veterans to Nebraska
SB 132nd Street lane closed
Shane Osborn grabs several endorsements
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
Database: How much did Medicare pay your doctor?
Omaha area may get 1 inch of rain tonight
< >
Kelly: Huskers' glory days of '80s live on — on the small screen and on stage
The 1984 NFL draft was unusual for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, and these days it's remembered in the name of a rock band, the 1984 Draft. Tonight, the band will be featured nationally on the NFL Network in a documentary about — what else? — the 1984 draft.
Kelly: Started at a dining room table, Home Instead thriving at 20 with $1B in annual revenue
The idea that Paul Hogan had studied and then hatched at his mother's table was that older people, rather than moving in with relatives or to an assisted-living center, would much prefer to stay home instead.
Breaking Brad: Nebraska GOP candidates unified against naked squirrels
Some of these Nebraska campaigns are tilting pretty far right. At a recent forum, there was a consensus that we need to ban public dancing and clothe naked squirrels in public parks.
Breaking Brad: Inside the mind of a 99-year-old real estate agent
I saw an article about a 99-year-old real estate agent who's still working. “This house is extra special. It has indoor toilets!”
Breaking Brad: Into the claw machine! Florida kid follows Lincoln kid's lead
In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a child climbed inside a claw machine. Hey, Florida kid: Nobody likes a copycat.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
7M Grill
Half Off Delicious Comfort Fusion Food & Drinks!
Buy Now
< >
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »