OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — It was the closest primary race and is expected to again be tight next week in the general election.
Omaha city councilmember Aimee Melton is defending her seat against Sara Kohen in Northwest Omaha’s District 7.
Sara Kohen said the decision to run came last year.
“(I saw) this summer that our city was slow to respond to the pandemic,” said Kohen.
Kohen, a lawyer and current school administrator, believes that Councilmember Aimee Melton failed to keep the community safe during the pandemic, voting against several mask mandate extensions.
“This was something that public health experts have been telling us for some time and at that point that we needed to have to keep people safe, limit the spread and be able to keep kids in school, keep the businesses open,” said Kohen.
Melton did vote for the initial mask mandate in August and the last extension this past winter.
“So it really helped to keep kids in school and keep kids in school safely and keep teachers safe and so what we did was work on some amendments, we negotiated, we cooperated, and we were able to come together on that,” said Melton.
She voted several times against an extension because she doesn’t believe it is the government’s role to force residents to wear masks.
“On principle, I think that mask mandates are government overreach,” said Melton.
Aside from masks, Melton says Omaha has made a lot of progress.
She points to her experience on the council and a strong relationship with Mayor Stothert to ensure residents in Omaha have drivable streets.
“I can't just be, I go to the mayor and ask her to do it, there’s a lot more to it. But I think really establishing those relationships, working with public works and identifying the roads that are most needed and kind of prioritizing them, that’s what's really important to do,” said Melton.
Kohen is taking a slightly different approach on repairing and widening streets, saying the city needs to adequately staff public works and use the right material.
“We really need to make sure how we’re doing things and making sure we’re doing them, in the best possible way, that we’re working smarter,” said Kohen.
As evidenced by the past few elections, voters in the district have proven to be fairly moderate.
Both Melton, a Republican, and Kohen, a Democrat, say they can appeal to them.
“People are really tired of the divisiveness that we've seen and they’re looking for somebody who’s going to work to listen to people of all different viewpoints and backgrounds and try to focus on the facts,” said Kohen.
“I’m very approachable and I like to work with people,” said Melton. “I do think that the citizens know what they’re getting with me.”