One time supporter of Mayor Jean Stothert, Douglas County Sheriff Tim Dunning is supporting her opponent Heath Mello.
The endorsement comes after relations between the county and mayor's office went south over negotiations for a joint crime lab. Sheriff Dunning says he believes Mello will build strong collaborative relationships.
Sheriff Dunning says the mayor's office was difficult to work with when reaching agreement on the joint crime lab. Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer and Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine are long supporters of using the University of Nebraska Medical Center for evidence testing, rather than the Sheriff's crime lab. When asked directly if the UNMC crime lab fiasco played a role in his decision to support Mello, Sheriff Dunning says he's blocked her calls.
"There's no hiding the fact we're not sending each other Christmas cards over that." said Dunning. "But it goes with things I've said in my remarks about collaboration and cooperation and there's a way to approach a negotiation process and I don't think she has a clue in how that works."
Sheriff Dunning also says Mayor Stothert's decision to annex subdivisions without providing police and fire services to those neighborhoods played a role in his decision. He said the Omaha Police Department is stretched too thin forcing sheriff's deputies to step in.
Mayor Stothert released a statement on Sheriff Dunning saying: "His decision to support my opponent is clearly a result of his opposition to the merger and the recent decision by Police Chief Todd Schmaderer to use the University of Nebraska Medical Center for evidence testing, rather than the sheriff's crime lab." Chief Schmaderer issued a statement of his own saying "any assertion by candidate Mello or Sheriff Dunning that policing services in the City of Omaha are inadequate is untrue, politically motivated, and insulting."