Bellevue voters choose Steve Carmichael to fill vacant City Council seat - Omaha.com
Published Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 12:00 am / Updated at 9:46 am
Bellevue voters choose Steve Carmichael to fill vacant City Council seat

Bellevue's Ward 1 residents have a city councilman for the first time in seven months, and he's likely to bring some changes to City Hall.

Steve Carmichael won more than 63 percent of the vote Tuesday in a four-candidate special election.

“I'm so proud for the electorate of the city of Bellevue to give me such a mandate,” Carmichael said. “I'm humbled and I'm proud.”

Carmichael, 56, works as chief building inspector in Council Bluffs. He'll serve as the representative for southeast Bellevue, including the downtown and riverfront areas.

The election was preceded by several months of fights at City Hall, and residents say the ordeal left lingering discontent in Ward 1 and Bellevue as a whole.

That discontent translated to the polls, where voters rejected longtime Bellevue businessman Dave Compton by more than a 2-to-1 margin.

Compton said during the campaign that he had been “hammered” with questions about his role in the City Hall controversy and his close relationship with city council members.

Rusty Hike, a former Sarpy County Board member, said he's glad to see the council vacancy filled, but he thinks it showed a lack of leadership at city hall.

“Really, you just need someone to step up and take the lead and try and unite all the people of the city,'' he said.

The process of finding a new council member began in March, when Councilman Scott Houghtaling left after serving only a few months. Wrangling between the mayor and the city council began almost immediately.

Mayor Rita Sanders tried to appoint local businessman Mike Hall to the seat. Three council members — Don Preister, Carol Blood and Steve Knutson — rejected her choice. They said another nominee, Compton, was better qualified.

They proposed a special election, which needed four council votes and approval from the mayor. Sanders and council members Kathy Saniuk and Paul Cook nixed that idea, saying it was too expensive.

The three council members continued to vote down the mayor's appointment.

Meanwhile, frustrated ward residents appeared at every council meeting to ask the city to resolve the issue.

The city also drew a rebuke from Secretary of State John Gale, who said the residents deserved representation and that the city should act quickly to fill the vacancy.

Blood, Preister and Knutson eventually said they wouldn't accept any nominee put forth by the mayor, and Saniuk and Sanders decided to approve the special election.

The election brought 15 percent of Ward 1 registered voters to the polls.

Carmichael, a Republican, called the results “quite a statement by the citizens of Bellevue.”

Compton drew about 27 percent of the vote, while Democrat Steve Dawes and Libertarian Michael Knebel each received a little less than 5 percent.

Kathy Holkeboer, who had previously asked the council to approve Sanders' appointment, said she's still not happy with the expense of the election. But she's ready for the city to move on, she said.

“My view is we need to do a better job, get the new guy in and let's see if we can do some representing of the people,” Holkeboer said.

Tom Richards, a former Bellevue councilman and current Sarpy County commissioner, said the state law regarding council appointments should be changed.

The power to appoint board members should lie either with the mayor or the council — not both.

“You can't have two separate branches of government (involved) without having that rub,” Richards said.

Carmichael is a former City of Bellevue employee who retired as chief building inspector.

As a council member, he will have to make decisions about difficult issues such as funding a full-time fire department and the transition of City Hall out of Olde Towne.

His views diverge from the current council majority in several ways. For example, he was critical of the council's handling of the budget last month and said he would like to see more cuts.

Carmichael will probably be sworn in at the next council meeting, and he will serve the remainder of the term, about three and a half years.

World-Herald staff writer Cody Winchester contributed to this report.

Contact the writer: Roseann Moring

roseann.moring@owh.com    |   402-444-1084    |  

Roseann covers Bellevue and Sarpy County crime.

Kelly: Started at a dining room table, Home Instead thriving at 20 with $1B in annual revenue
Nebraska's U.S. Senate candidates stick to familiar topics at Omaha forum
8% of alcohol sellers checked in Omaha area last week sold booze to minors
OPS bus, SUV collide; no students onboard at the time
Waitress who served alcohol to teen before fatal crash gets jail time, probation
Lori Jenkins, charged as accessory in 4 murders, waives speedy trial
Iowa State servers hacked, nearly 30,000 SSNs at risk
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
2nd District House race: After 8 terms, Lee Terry knows how D.C. works — and doesn't
Bellevue man is killed at Minnesota dance hall after South Sudanese basketball tourney
Spring corn planting still sputters in Nebraska, Iowa, other key states
Nebraska banking and finance director to retire
19-year-old killed in one-vehicle crash at 72nd & Shirley
Gov. Heineman vetoes bill to ease restrictions on nurse practitioners
U.S. Senate race: State Auditor Mike Foley defends Shane Osborn against ad campaign
Public defender to represent Nikko Jenkins in sentencing
Mid-America Center on track for lower operating loss
Bluffs City Council approves dozens of new numbered street lights
National Law Enforcement Memorial Week set for May
Ted Cruz backs Pete Ricketts' campaign for governor
Omahan charged with 5th-offense DUI after street race causes rollover
2 blocks of Grover Street closed
Safety board report blames pilot error in 2013 crash that killed UNO student, passenger
Omaha man accused in shooting ordered held on $75,000 bail
2 men charged with conspiracy to distribute meth held on $1 million bail each
< >
COLUMNISTS »
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: 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.
Breaking Brad: Even Chuck Hassebrook's throwing mud!
The Nebraska campaigns have turned so ugly, Democrat Chuck Hassebrook lobbed unfounded accusations at an imaginary opponent.
Breaking Brad: Kraft wiener recall is business opportunity for TD Ameritrade Park
Instead of returning the wieners, TD Ameritrade Park is calling them "cheese dogs" and charging double.
Breaking Brad: Photos with the Easter Bunny are so 2010
In a sign of the times, most kids ran out of patience waiting for a photo with the Easter Bunny at the mall, just snapped a selfie and went home.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Tokyo Sushi
$5 for $10 or $10 for $20 toward All-You-Can-Eat Sushi Purchase
Buy Now
PHOTO GALLERIES »
< >
SPOTLIGHT »
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.
WORLD-HERALD ALERTS »
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com'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 »