Lincoln voters ended Mayor Chris Beutler’s mayoral career Tuesday by approving a charter amendment that limits the Lincoln mayor to three consecutive terms.
The term-limits amendment, spearheaded by several prominent Republicans, applies retroactively, so Beutler cannot run for a fourth term next spring as he had planned.
Voters narrowly approved the term-limits proposal despite a campaign of more than $160,000 against the charter amendment.
That campaign, financed by a newly formed group called Fair Elections Lincoln and run by Beutler's re-election campaign chairman Brandon Bayer, tried to point out the issue was not just philosophical. It was a way to make sure Beutler could not run again and thus give Republicans a better chance at the mayor’s position.
Beutler has beaten Republican candidates in the last three mayoral elections. In fact, Democrats have held the mayor’s office since 1999.
Tuesday’s term-limits vote is a game-changer for city hall politics over the next six months. Beutler will be a lame duck mayor, with a few short months to get approval for any new plans.
It also opens up the mayoral election.
Councilwoman Leirion Gaylor Baird and State Sen. Adam Morfeld, two Democrats mentioned as potential future candidates for mayor, will have to decide whether to run in the spring 2019 election.
Councilman Cyndi Lamm, viewed as a conservative Republican, has already announced she will seek the mayor’s seat next year.
The fact that Lincoln has an "autocratic mayor" and the mayor controls so much, resonated with voters, said Matt Innis, spokesman for the Term Limits supporters.
"People don’t want people politicians having unchecked power. They want the power returned back to the people," he said.
The amendment makes Lincoln a first in Nebraska. No other Nebraska city or village has term limits for either a mayor or council or board members, according to staff at the League of Nebraska Municipalities
Nebraska has a two-term limit for both the governor and the state legislators. The term limit for state senators, begun through a successful petition drive and vote, was not applied retroactively. Individual senators were allowed to serve eight additional years before the two-term limit took effect.
Some Democratic leaders have threatened to spearhead a similar petition drive in Omaha to limit the Omaha mayor’s term and keep current Mayor Jean Stothert from running again if the term-limit questions was successful in Lincoln.
Election results for all statewide and Lincoln-area races
|For Initiative 427||345,837|
|Against Initiative 427||304,253|
|District 1||Kate Bolz||116,120|
|Jeff Fortenberry, R||179,557|
|Dennis Grace, L||8,452|
|District 2||Donald Bacon, R||162,087|
|Kara Eastman, D||146,992|
|Tyler Schaeffer, L||9,423|
|District 3||Mark Elworth Jr., D||49,771|
|Dustin Hobbs, L||10,723|
|Adrian Smith, R||222,363|
Lincoln mayor term limits
Lancaster County races
|County treasurer||Matt Schulte (R)||52,186|
|Rachel Garver (D)||58,146|
|County clerk||Dan Nolte (D)||uncontested|
|County assessor||Rob Ogden (R)||uncontested|
|County sheriff||Terry Wagner (R)||uncontested|
|County attorney||Pat Condon (R)||uncontested|
|Public defender||Joe Nigro (D)||uncontested|
|Clerk of district court||Troy Hawk (R)||uncontested|
|County engineer||Pam Dingman (R)||uncontested|
Lancaster County Board
|1||Tim Duey (R)||4,556|
|Sean Flowerday (D)||11,423|
|3||Deb Schorr (R)||uncontested|
|5||Todd Wiltgen (R)||11,462|
|Rick Vest (D)||12,274|
|13||Justin T. Wayne||11,010|
|35||Raymond M. Aguilar||6,570|
|John Lowe Sr.||12,774|
|Lou Ann Linehan||14,554|
|Andrew La Grone||11,873|
Public Service Commission
|1||Dan Watermeier (R)||72,956|
|Christa Yoakum (D)||69,230|
|3||Tim Schram (R)||94,743|
|Mike Forsythe (D)||57,929|
NU Board of Regents
|2||Jack A. Stark||96,770|
State Board of Education
|5||Patricia H. Timm||36,803|
|7||Robin R. Stevens||uncontested|
SCC Board of Governors
|At-large||Timothy R. Cerveny||81,405|
|Jeanne H. Stec||15,268|
|3||Edward C. Price||32,588|
|4||Kristin E. Yates||25,167|
Lower Platte South Natural Resources District board
|4||Gary R. Aldridge||9,201|
|LeRoy W. Sievers||9,199|
|10||Ray A. Stevens Jr.||6,528|
Seward County sheriff
|Joseph O. Yocum (R)||3,059|
|Mike Vance (D)||3,868|
Retention of judges
|Stephanie F. Stacy||75,767||17,747|
|Julie A. Martin||420,928||113,161|
|James Michael Fitzgerald||395,604||130,312|
|Lori A. Maret||64,891||20,225|
|Susan I. Strong||69,033||16,152|
|Robert R. Otte||65,830||19,367|
|Holly J. Parsley||68,969||15,895|
|Thomas E. Zimmerman||64,248||18,907|
Charter amendment questions
|Raising city bid threshold||43,488||18,442|