Being around Heath Mello is electrifying. The man has a commanding presence that could persuade people of almost anything. The night of the primary, Mello was out there talking to constituents, and he smiled, like every politician. However, a sincerity was coming from Mello. The guy was talking to these people, and maybe he was genuine – maybe he wasn’t, but it wouldn’t be ludicrous to say that he was good friends with everyone in the room, whatever the truth is tossed aside.
The notable response will be that a candidate should be about policy, and have substance, and it shouldn’t be about how ‘well liked’ they are. Mello is ‘well liked’, and that would be essential to his term as Mayor, the biggest reason being that people are more likely to listen to someone they can stand to be around. With being ‘well-liked’, comes an aptitude for persuasion. That would be all Mello would need to adapt to the needs of the people of Omaha as the policy of the day changed.
Our current mayor does not seem to demonstrate that trait. Despite what claims Mayor Stothert might make (no one really wants to seem like they’re nerve wracking to be around), the evidence shines through.
None more so painfully obvious than the statement from Police Chief Tim Dunning saying that he had blocked her cell phone number. He ended up endorsing Mello.
Stothert claimed during her first debate that people didn’t like to work with her because “she’s a leader.” While it is true that if one focuses on being liked by everyone; they will be lost in the tide, there is also something to be said for the leader that can command inspiration and convince people to follow him or her and work with him or her of their own volition. That person is Heath Mello.
A criticism of Mello that keeps coming up is how nervous he seems to distinguish himself from Stothert. Mello is a moderate democrat, and so it is fitting that he adopts a style of campaigning that is reminiscent of Bill Clinton’s initial run for governor of Arkansas. Charm and persuasion take center stage. Unfortunately, he will have to hit her on something tangible. As lovely as the idea is, a candidate cannot win without at least one attack ad, it’s not realistic.
Mello ought to hit Stothert on the bus systems. The buses are hard to come by, it’s hard to not find a bus in many other towns. Omaha, in this regard, is more reminiscent of a small town than a sprawling metro. The city has a surplus, and the bus systems demand funding.
Mello also ought to focus on events where he meets constituents in person. There is a genuine difference between seeing him on TV and meeting him. It is a difference that could win Mello the race if properly utilized.
Heath Mello will bring a fresh new perspective into Omaha politics, and especially into the Nebraska Democratic party, which has largely been dominated by old white men (Rep. Ashford, Senator Kerrey, Senator Nelson, Mayor Suttle). His policy flaws pale in comparison to what he could get done with pressure.