Omaha City Council President Tom Mulligan isn't going to get a chance to keep his title.
Mulligan was appointed to the council in 2010, when Chuck Sigerson resigned after suffering a stroke and a heart attack.
After about three years representing District 7 on the council, Mulligan wound up Tuesday receiving slightly more than a fifth of the vote in his northwest Omaha district.
Attorney Aimee Melton and lawn service owner Tim Lonergan will advance to the general election on May 14.
The other council incumbents seeking re-election — Garry Gernandt, Ben Gray, Pete Festersen, Chris Jerram and Franklin Thompson — all led the polling in their races.
The District 7 faceoff promises to be competitive. Melton has received large donations from former restaurant owner Mike Simmonds and former Ameritrade Chief Executive Pete Ricketts, while Lonergan has received $25,000 from an organization representing firefighters.
Steve LeClair, the firefighters union president, said the race showed the power of the union's political machine. The union worked with Lonergan on what LeClair called “a tremendous ground game” that included door-knocking and yard signs.
“I don't think you can understate the significance of an incumbent being primaried out,” LeClair said. “When you have such a hardworking candidate matched up with such people as hardworking firefighters ... he's going to be a good candidate.”
When Lonergan arrived at McFly's Tavern on Tuesday night, he shook LeClair's hand.
“We make a pretty good team, don't we?” LeClair said.
Mulligan did not return calls seeking comment.
All seven City Council seats are up for election, and Tuesday's primary narrowed the field in District 7 and two other districts.
In northeast Omaha's District 2, voters selected first-term Councilman Ben Gray and former Police Officer Tariq Al-Amin to advance to the general election. Fewer than 150 votes separated Al-Amin from his closest competitor, Bruce Hunter.
Meanwhile, in South Omaha's District 4, Gernandt captured nearly two-thirds of the vote, while former Police Officer Virgil Patlan received 29 percent. A third candidate, Jacob Perasso, wound up with 8 percent of the vote.
The council will have at least one other new face, in addition to whoever wins in District 7.
In southwest Omaha's District 5, the seat vacated by mayoral candidate Jean Stothert will be represented by either former State Sen. Rich Pahls or insurance agent Jeff Moore.
World-Herald staff writer Erin Grace contributed to this report.
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Read more about each race by clicking the headers below.
District 1: Challenger is facing an uphill battle
Pete Festersen, an incumbent and a veteran of city politics, will take on pediatric surgeon Ed Truemper, who is making his first bid for City Council.
Festersen, a Democrat who worked under former Mayor Mike Fahey and lobbied for the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, reported having $115,000 in the bank in his most recent financial disclosure report. That gives him quite an edge over Truemper, a Republican, who reported having $18,000 in cash on hand.
Voter registration counts also work against Truemper in the officially nonpartisan race. In the district, which includes Florence, Dundee, Benson and the Westroads area, 44 percent of the registered voters are Democrats, and 32 percent are Republicans. Festersen is serving his first term on the council.
District 2: Crime prevention likely a focus
Two candidates who have called for more focus on crime prevention will battle to represent northeast Omaha in May.
Incumbent Ben Gray won a chance to vie for a second term representing the district. He's making the case that projects he has helped start — development along Ames Avenue, a summer jobs program for young people — are working and that he needs more time to see them to fruition.
His opponent, retired Police Officer Tariq Al-Amin, says Gray works only with a small group of friends and organizations, to the detriment of the district at large. He says city government isn't putting enough emphasis on illegal gun sales or enough pressure on the providers of guns used in shootings.
District 3: Jerram overcomes his mistake
In 2009, Democrat Chris Jerram narrowly beat his Republican opponent in the race for the open District 3 seat.
Now the incumbent, Jerram put himself in hot water last month when he posed with a T-shirt depicting Jean Stothert, his council colleague, as a stripper.
Jerram apologized for his “mistake,” and many wondered whether it would leave him vulnerable. That didn't appear to be the case Tuesday, as he piled up votes 2-1 over his opponent.
He faces JR Jasso, a Republican who works in the marketing department at Creighton University.
Jerram also appears to have the edge in money — he reported having $72,000 at the end of the last campaign reporting period.
Jasso did not raise the $5,000 that would require state disclosure.
District 4: Finalists have similar backgrounds
Two lifelong Omahans with similar résumés will square off for the chance to represent South Omaha on the council.
Both Garry Gernandt and Virgil Patlan worked for the Omaha Police Department for decades. Both have military backgrounds; Gernandt was in the Marine Corps, and Patlan was in the Army.
Gernandt, a Democrat seeking his fourth City Council term, is running on his record of combating graffiti and rundown properties. He was also involved in getting a phone line to assist residents with city services.
Patlan, an independent, hopes that constituents are looking for change and new leadership. He says he wants to put the city's equal rights ordinance for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender residents — which Gernandt supported — to a vote and repeal the city's new tobacco tax. Patlan says he wants to get a gang specialist in South Omaha.
District 5 Pahls has funding advantage
The City Council seat vacated by mayoral candidate Jean Stothert drew just two candidates: former State Sen. Rich Pahls and insurance agent Jeff Moore.
Pahls represented the Millard area in the Legislature from 2005 to 2012. He served as chairman of the Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee.
Pahls has had medical problems. In 2010, he slipped into a coma and was hospitalized for nearly a month. Moore touts his experience as a small-business owner and has said the city needs to get back to a “common-sense approach to spending.”
Pahls holds an edge when it comes to money. He reported having $31,000 left to spend, while Moore had less than $2,000 in his campaign coffers.
District 6: Both have years of experience
Franklin Thompson, one of Omaha's longest-serving City Council members, will face off against Phil Klein, who was mayor of Elkhorn from 1993 until it was annexed by Omaha in 2007.
With so much experience between the two men, the race will most likely focus on their respective records. Klein points out that he's the only council candidate in any district with executive experience leading a city. He says he'll rely on that background to improve basic city services.
Thompson, who was first elected to the City Council in 2001, can point to a track record of opposing tax increases and his work getting a face-lift for historic Elkhorn.
Klein's past with Elkhorn can't directly translate into too many votes: Former Elkhorn residents make up less than 10 percent of the district.
And while Thompson holds the money advantage with some $80,000 to spend, most of it from past campaign cycles, fundraising on both sides has been lukewarm. So far this year Thompson has raised $8,000; Klein, almost $9,000.
District 7: A newcomer will represent district
With council appointee Tom Mulligan out, a new face will represent this northwest Omaha district.
Attorney Aimee Melton, campaigning to lower taxes and tackle crime, said she plans to rely on her professional background to add police officers and increase their training.
Tim Lonergan is making a third try for the City Council seat, having lost in 2001 and 2005. Lonergan, who runs a lawn service, said he would hold the line on spending, eliminate the restaurant tax and improve public safety.
Both have more than $25,000 on hand. Melton received $12,000 from former restaurant owner Mike Simmonds, and Lonergan got $25,000 from Firefighters for Better Government.