The passing of Mike Boyle, a longtime Douglas County Board member and former Omaha mayor, provides a moment to reflect on some important dimensions of politics and public service.
Boyle and his late wife, Anne, long towered among the most prominent Democratic couples in the state, active in their party and promoting its interests. Yet Mike and Anne Boyle also received great respect from many Nebraska Republicans. Some of Mike Boyle’s closest friends were supporters of the GOP.
The reason for the respect is easy to identify: When someone demonstrates such strong dedication to public service, they earn respect even from those who might disagree with them on issues.
That certainly was the case with Mike Boyle. Recalled by voters as Omaha mayor in the late ’80s, he returned to public service a decade later and showed admirable commitment to his work on the County Board. He served in that capacity for nearly a quarter-century, winning election five times.
On the County Board, Boyle stood out for his passionate approach. He could be tough — fierce. But no one had doubt about his striving to do the best job he could in looking to the public interest. He wore his heart on his sleeve. When he saw a need, he fought hard on behalf of others, rich or poor, of whatever background. “He cared about people, all people,” said his close friend and former Omaha Mayor P.J. Morgan, a Republican who served with him on the County Board.