Recall petition gets underway

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October 21st, 2010

Omaha, NE – A petition to recall Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle is officially underway. Surrounded by a swarm of news cameras, Jeremy Aspen, the spokesman for the Mayor Suttle Recall campaign, picked up boxes of petitions Thursday morning.

Nicole Jesse helps kick off the signature drive (Photo Robyn Wisch)

About 25 people stood outside the Douglas County Election Commission office, smiling and waving bright red placards, urging passersby to recall Mayor Suttle.

“We’re going to start getting petitions out right away,” Aspen said. “Right now, actually.”

Aspen said the group has close to 300 volunteers, who will be circulating petitions at sites around the city, including restaurants, where the group says about 25 owners have signed on, upset about the mayor’s newly imposed restaurant tax. That’s one of three taxes the mayor passed in the latest city budget that has recallers upset. “It’s a tough effort going after… recalling the mayor,” Aspen said. “Lots of energies have been expelled in doing this. So we’re finally excited that every time we get a signature it’s going to count toward making this city more conducive to better leadership.”

“Omaha, we’re in a deficit right now, and we have to pay for city services somehow,” said Noelle Obermeyer, co-treasurer of Forward Omaha, a group of, as she describes it, “business leaders and city activists” that supports the Mayor. The group has set up a website listing Suttle’s achievements while in office, and quoting supporters in the community – notably, heavy-hitter philanthropist Dick Holland, who last week formed his own group opposing the recall. Obermeyer said the taxes Suttle introduced were necessary to sustain services Omahans need, and the recall is simply an attempt to undo last year’s election between Suttle and his opponent, Hal Daub.

“We really haven’t given Mayor Suttle an opportunity to correct all the problems,” Obermeyer said. “This is mainly coming from a group of people who are both upset about the election and upset about Hal Daub’s loss.”

Daub has denied any involvement in the recall. Neither group has disclosed who is contributing to the efforts, and how much money has been raised. The recall group has 30 days to gather almost 27,000 signatures. If successful, the mayor can either resign or face voters at the polls, again.

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