Anchor Craig Nigrelli moderated the one hour Omaha mayoral debate on 3NewsNow along with the Omaha World-Herald's Mike'l Severe. Afterwards, Nigrelli spoke with Co-Anchor Jennifer Griswold about some of the issues the candidates differed on. He said, it gained steam when the issue of public safety came up and if Omaha is safer under Mayor Jean Stothert.
The Mayor said during the exchange, "You can cherry pick whatever you want, but I trust those numbers that the Chief gives me. Those are based on national averages. The most violent crimes, the number of shootings are down and it's indisputable. " Mello said, "I think today's Omaha World-Herald shows that violent crime is up in the city. This is not me saying this. This is well documented research from the FBI and Omaha Police Department."
The candidates also had a chance to ask each other a question. It got very lively. They sparred over who has accepted campaign contributions from which donors and if it's appropriate. Heath Mello said, "By your own logic, you were biased toward campaign contributors when they give a contribution of a certain size. Is that why you haven't closed the loophole that Swain Construction is exploiting ? " Mayor Stothert replied, "First of all your statement, I believe is false. There's a lot of difference between taking money from a union and a lot of money, which you did, $25,000 from the Fire Union that you are going to be involved in, if you are Mayor, in negotiating their contract and approving their contract. "
Both candidates said they made a concerted effort to keep ConAgra from moving its headquarters from Omaha to Chicago. Mayor Stothert noted that she had meetings with company executives for months. Heath Mello said he took the initiative to pick up the phone as a State Senator, call the company and ultimately meet with the CEO.
In closing statements, Mayor Stothert said she has kept property taxes down, there are jobs here and Omaha is a great city to raise a family. Heath Mello told the viewers he's the candidate with a vision for the future, where opportunities for young people will keep them from moving to larger cities.