By Kelsey Stewart, News Editor
As mayor, Jim Suttle said he is getting things done. And he doesn’t plan on stopping.
“That’s what we will continue to do in a second term-get more things done,” Suttle said.
Suttle is running for a second term against four candidates-Brad Ashford, Dave Nabity, Jean Stothert and Dan Welch.
Based on his performance and health, Suttle planned on serving two terms as mayor from the start,
“Performance has been, I think, great,” Suttle said. “And my health has been excellent. We’re ready to do a second term.”
Suttle’s first term wasn’t perfect. Much of the criticism he faced was due to the 2.5 percent restaurant tax implemented in 2010.
The tax beat the projected $15 to $19 million mark, bringing in $23.8 million in its first full year.
“Our restaurant tax has been such a blessing,” Suttle said. He added that the tax was needed to stabilize revenue in order to deliver services like keeping libraries and public pools open, and paying police and fire departments.
“It’s never a joy to be raising taxes at all but in this case, we had to stabilize revenue,” Suttle said.
He has no plans to remove or change the restaurant tax.
“We’re looking forward and we’re not looking backward,” Suttle said.
In early 2011, Suttle defeated a recall attempt. But he won’t let the recall election be the focus of his campaign.
“I’ve always taken the high road and talked about the positive things I’m going to do, not harassing the reputation of my opponents,” Suttle said.
Suttle won’t take an attack approach. Instead, he’ll talk about his record and the two main things he did for the city.
“First, I put the financial house in order and we’re going to keep it that way,” Suttle said.
His second accomplishment was dealing with the 2011 flooding of the Missouri River.
“I knew what we needed to mobilize and fight and save our city from 104 days of flood conditions,” Suttle said.
But there were more things done in his first term, like getting Omaha’s AAA bond rating back and setting up a payment plan for the mortgage on the CenturyLink Center. Suttle also credits his term for modernizing the city’s plan for dealing with natural and manmade disasters.
“We’re prepared every step of the way,” Suttle said. “We will continue to incorporate business principles into everything we do.”
Suttle isn’t concerned with political affiliations in this election.
“This is supposed to be non-partisan, so we should be looking at each other as citizens and citizens that are willing to step forward and serve,” Suttle said.
He added that the media are responsible for creating “Rs” and “Ds.”
His support comes from Democratic circles but he said his Republican support is growing, too.
If elected for a second term, Suttle wants to focus on economic development and job creation.
His plans include building an industrial site in North Omaha and getting things moving on the project to redevelop Crossroads Mall. He also supports development of a cancer research center at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Suttle said he’s sensitive to college graduates in their 20s and 30s.
“We need to have the amenities in place here where it’s a fun city where you can meet your friends and do the things you wish,” Suttle said. “But you need career growth and your careers have to be staged so that you’re always advancing.”
Redevelopment of downtown sites and the Crossroads will “add up to terrific opportunities for young people,” Suttle said.
Suttle is thinking positively. He and his staff know where they are in the campaign and feel they’re in a strong position. They want to maintain that position through the May 14 general election.
“Positive attitudes carry you forward,” Suttle said. “I’m a very tenacious person.”