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Back in the day, May 9, 1989: P.J. Morgan elected mayor in record-breaking voter turnout

Back in the day, May 9, 1989: P.J. Morgan elected mayor in record-breaking voter turnout


1990 PHOTO: P.J. Morgan, a former Douglas County Board member and state senator, was elected mayor in 1989 and re-elected four years later. He left the job 10 months into his second term, saying he wanted more time with his family.

Omaha voters flocked to the polls in record numbers citywide 32 years ago today to elect millionaire real estate manager, P.J. Morgan as the city's 46th mayor.

The 49-year-old Morgan became the city's fourth mayor since Omaha's last mayoral election in 1985, when former Mayor Mike Boyle won re-election handily. Morgan took the place of Walter Calinger, who was appointed in April 1988 after the death of then-Mayor Bernie Simon. Simon was appointed to the post after Boyle was recalled. Morgan, a Republican, defeated Boyle, the city's 43rd mayor, and dashed Boyle's hopes for an unprecedented political comeback.

Morgan, a former Douglas County Board member and state senator, resigned his position on the Omaha Airport Authority board to take the $60,900-a-year-job as mayor.

The election was the first time that more than 107,000 voters turned out for a city election. The number represented 54.6 percent of the city's 196,187 registered voters. The record percentage was 69 percent in the May 1965 general election.

Morgan beat Boyle by 8,600 votes in the 1989 city general election and captured the same western wards of the city that voted heaviest to recall Boyle two years earlier.

In his victory speech at the New Tower Inn, Morgan said the election results marked a turning point for Omaha. Morgan also pledged to give citizens full access to city government.

"The door of the Mayor's Office is going to be coming off — that's the way it's going to be."

To the hundreds of cheering supporters packed in the Palace Room, Morgan continued: "The voters of this city have chosen a new road. Omaha is ready to take bold steps into the future."

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