The Nov. 3 general election has resulted in a changing of the guard for one Bellevue City Council post.
Garnering 14,600 votes (59.56%), Jerry McCaw pulled away and easily defeated challenger Todd Santoro for the current At-Large council seat, currently manned by Pat Shannon. Santoro, a local businessman, tallied support from 9,680 registered voters (39.49%).
The Leader was unsuccessful in reaching McCaw for comment. Santoro wished his opponent well with representing his constituency. He said he was pleased with the respect shown between the duo, even though they both wanted the seat that ultimately will be McCaw’s following the first December council meeting when he’s scheduled to be sworn in.
“After watching everything else, I’m just glad that Jerry and I could be adults and treat this with professional respect on both sides,” Santoro said. “There was nothing negative said from either; we look at things slightly different but there’s nothing wrong with that.”
McCaw will hold the At-Large seat, serving as a voice for all of Bellevue’s voting wards, until the position is eliminated in favor of adding a sixth voting district. This is happening as a result of a ballot initiative that easily passed Election Day, with 78.58% of voters being in favor of eliminating the At-Large seat within two years.
The move is happening because of the city’s continued growth — through annexations and the recently completed decennial census. Creating a sixth ward will enable each representative to serve about 10,000 residents, Mayor Rusty Hike said. Voting districts will be altered slightly, Hike said, noting that the Metropolitan Area Planning Agency is working on creating updated voting boundaries.
Although the initiative allows for the process to happen within two years, Hike told the Leader he expects everything to be finalized much sooner.
“I think once we get the census data, MAPA — they’ve already been working on it a little bit — will put together some thought processes and share that with us,” Hike said. “They’re trying to keep all the candidates in the district that they want – that kind of thing.
“I think it will all go pretty quick once we get that data.”
Retaining his seat for the third election is Ward 3 Councilmember Paul Cook, who defeated Mike Knebel by gathering 3,459 votes (67.92%) to his opponent’s 1,588 (31.18%). Cook was previously seated in 2012 and 2016. Twice, he has served as the body’s president (2015 and 2019).
“I want to thank the voters of Ward 3 for their support,” Cook said following the election. “I want to continue to work hard for them by being their voice on the city council. “I want to continue to move the Bellevue-Offutt community forward, to be a place that people want to live, work and visit.
“I’m proud to serve and give back to my community.”
The Leader wasn’t able to immediately reach Knebel for comment following the election. Ward 1 representative Thomas Burns and Ward 5 member Don Preister both retained their seats, running uncontested.
Bellevue Public Schools Board of Education
Scott Eby, Sarah Centineo and Kristy Hansen Kiviniemi were elected to serve the upcoming term on the board. Eby garnered 30.68% of the vote, Hansen Kiviniemi 25.01% and Centineo 21.16%. Jim Moudry received 17.36% of the vote.
Sarpy County had no contested races this general election. County Public Defender Tom Strigenz (R), District 1 Commissioner Don Kelly (R), District 3 Commissioner Angi Burmeister (R) and District 4 Commissioner Gary F. Mixan (R) were all re-elected, running unopposed.
District 3 incumbent Carol Blood edged out Rick Holdcroft, collecting 50.15% of the vote to her opponent’s 49.47%. Former Bellevue Mayor Rita Sanders defeated Susan Hester for the District 45 Seat, currently held by Sue Crawford, who was unable to run again as a result of state term limits. District 49 incumbent Andrew LaGrone was narrowly defeated by Jen Day, who collected 50.36% of the vote to LaGrone’s 49.40%.
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