2021 ODIDA Board Election Candidates
Voting will begin and ballots will be available to District residents, business tenants, and property owners on October 31, 2020. Ballots will be mailed out or can be obtained at either the Omaha City Clerk’s Office. Voters must return ballots in a specially marked envelope to Omaha City Clerk’s Office no later than 4:30 PM on January 31, 2021 or via email. The DID election will be supervised by the City of Omaha City Clerk, Elizabeth Butler, City Clerk (402-444-5550).
Results of the election will be released by February 15, 2021.
Ward 1 - Electing 1 seat
- Lee Myers - 105 S 9th St. #603, Omaha, NE 68102
Candidates Statement: Lee Myers asks for your vote for a seat on the Omaha Downtown Improvement District board in the election November 2020. Lee has been an owner and president of several private businesses during his business career before retiring to a condo in the Beebe+Runyan building at 9th Street and Douglas Street. He brings private business experience in technology, newspapers, catalogs and economic development to his current involvement with non-profits and volunteer activities through the B+R HOA board, ModeShift Omaha, Old Market Association, The Kaneko, Suburban Rotary, AARP, NEWbraska and Toastmasters. He puzzles how organizations can effectively communicate in this new era of small bits of unverified information flying around willy-nilly. These splintered media make it both easier and harder to communicate. We have to learn how to put together an effective strategy and implementation to communicate what is being done by ODID and what needs to be done by ODID.
- Write-in Candidates
Ward 2 - Electing 1 seat
- Vera Mercer - 114 Jones St. Apt #23, Omaha, NE 68102
Candidates Statement: Vera Mercer along with her husband began converting buildings in downtown Omaha into what we now know as the Old Market. Vera has been working with various businesses, companies, and the City of Omaha to elevate the downtown Old Market into the 2nd most attended area of Nebraska. Vera is the president of the Old Omaha Association, Inc. that works with bringing in artists from all over the world to Omaha, Nebraska. As the Owner of Mercer Management Company, Vera manages various buildings around the downtown. Vera owns Boiler Room and La Buvette restaurants. She is a renowned photographer with exhibits in museums, businesses, and galleries around the world.
- Write-in Candidates
Ward 3 - Electing 1 seat
- Kaixi Zhang - 312 S. 16th St. #504, Omaha, NE 68102
Candidates Statement: Kaixi is a Software QA Analyst at BHHC and has been a resident of Downtown Omaha since 2013, so she is very familiar with the local community. She enjoys frequenting area restaurants/bars, live music shows, and Saturday morning strolls through the Farmers Market. During her free time, Kaixi enjoys volunteering, hiking, participating in co-ed sports or biking, and cooking. She currently serves on the Board as a property owner (Ward 3) and is also a member of the Activation Committee. Kaixi sees and recognizes the recent positive changes that have impacted the Downtown Omaha community and wants to continue to be a contributing factor for progress that also preserves our rich Omaha culture. Kaixi holds a BS in Finance and Banking and an MBA from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Kaixi believes that collaboration, open communication, and the willingness to learn is monumental in economic growth and professional development.
- Write-in Candidates
Ward 4 - Electing 1 seat
- Robert Ortmann - 1008 Dodge St. #202, Omaha, NE 68102
Candidates Statement: Bob is a retired navy officer who specialized in ship repair and modernization and is also retired from Iowa Western Community College where he worked in the Continuing Education Department. He holds an engineering degree from University of Nebraska-Lincoln and graduate degrees in engineering and management from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Past experiences include leadership of large organizations, project management, and response to disasters such as the 1989 earthquake in San Francisco. Bob currently serves as president of his condominium association and is member of the ODID Board of Directors. Bob and his wife Jan are the parents of two adult children and have lived downtown for 16 years.
- Write-in Candidates
Residents - Electing 3 seats
Graham Archer- 405 S 16th St. Apt #1202 Omaha, NE 68102
Candidates Statement: As a lifelong Omahan, current downtown resident and sitting Improvement District board member up for re-election, I have first-hand experience of what makes our city great. Making downtown the best it can be for residents, visitors and businesses is very important work, and as a local professional who's served in leadership roles at some of the most recognizable companies in our city (Omaha World-Herald & Carson Group), I bring a unique viewpoint and skillset that can help this board continue to make a positive impact for the community. For nearly two decades, I've either worked or lived downtown — often both — and will continue to focus on growth and increased amenities, doing whatever I can to make sure this important part of our city is clean, safe, inviting and remains a vital hub for all who want to live, work or play here.
Julia Berry -1502 Jones St. #404, Omaha, NE 68102
Candidates Statement: Hello, My name is Julia Berry and I am an Omaha native who returned home after living in Los Angeles for 11 years. My husband and I have been living in downtown for the past three years in the Kimball Lofts and we love being part of this community. I have been an active member of the ODID for 1+ years and would love to continue participating in this organization. I attend all meetings unless I’m away helping other facilities fighting COVID or recovering from hurricane Laura because I am a nurse who loves to help others. My goal is to join an ODID sub-committee so I can improve my participation and to get to know members better. I work well with others and value difference of opinion so the best decisions can be made. Thank you for your consideration.
Bill Goodwin - 900 Farnam St. Spt. 701, Omaha, NE 68102
Candidates Statement: Education - North Dakota State University: B.S. Speech Pathology; Vanderbilt University: M.S. Hearing and Speech Sciences; Indiana University: Ph.D. Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences & Special Education Administration. I was employed for over 40 years in five midwestern states as a school Principal and as a Director of Special Education. Additionally, I taught college and university classes on a full time and part-time basis. I moved to Omaha in July of 2009 and have lived in the Old Market area the entire time. I have served on the Downtown Improvement District Board for over nine years. My daily contact with the residents and business owners provides me with an excellent view of the problems and concerns they have. Lastly, my years of experience in working with teachers, parents, and school board members has taught me the value of compromise without losing focus on the central issues.
Trisha Ponce - 915 Jones St. Apt 114, Omaha, NE 68102
Candidates Statement: I grew up in the Omaha area and attended UNO for undergraduate studies. I have relocated for my career twice - both times to large metro areas. My experiences living and working in Philadelphia and Mexico City have provided me unique perspectives on what makes downtown attractive for long term residents and visitors. Upon my return to Omaha, I chose to live downtown and forgo vehicle ownership. Most of my time during and outside work is spent downtown. I walk and use public transportation regularly. This lifestyle has enabled me to fully immerse myself in my neighborhood. I look forward to advancing the mission of the Omaha Downtown Improvement District Association, especially in facilitating downtown living for all.
- Write-in Candidates
Business Tenants - Electing 2 seats
Jeff Jorgensen -Tannenbaum Christmas Shop
Candidates Statement: Jeff Jorgensen has served on the ODIDA board since inception representing BUSINESS TENANTS. Jeff relentlessly reminds all parties that --while assessments are mailed to property owners -- it is often BUSINESS TENANTS who pay the assessment through rent increases. Jeff will assure that the BUSINESS TENANT voice is heard. Jeff, Is an owner of Tannenbaum Christmas Shop and Old Market Candy Shop. Graduated from Omaha Central High in 1967. Served for six years on the Downtown Omaha, Inc. board. Served on the Old Market Association board since 1995 and as President, 2005-2006. Served as Nebraska Director of Community Development, participating on the committee to enable Tax Increment Financing and working to create state financing tools that aided adaptive reuse of underused downtown buildings. Over the years, ODIDA has benefited from board turnover bringing new ideas and enthusiasm. Historical perspective and experience are also needed. Jeff brings that to ODIDA.
Christine Mackiewicz - Mercer Management
Candidates Statement: Christine Mackiewicz is the business administrator for Mercer Management Company, Inc. Christine manages, maintains, and beautifies many properties throughout the historic Old Market. She is the President of the Omaha Farmers Market and a board member of Old Omaha Association, Inc. Christine has also lived in the downtown area for over 15 years. She is a native of Omaha and a Creighton University graduate, class of 1994.
Michael Markey - Nebraska Arts Council
Candidates Statement: Mike Markey is Deputy Director of the Nebraska Arts Council, overseeing all administrative and programming functions for the state agency. He has been with the Arts Council for eleven years. Prior to that, he served as the Managing Director of the Nebraska Shakespeare Festival for eighteen years. Mike earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in Arts Management from Florida State University and a Master’s degree in People’s Theatre from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Mike currently serves on the Omaha Public Art Commission and has served on the boards of UNO’s Friends of Art, Theatre Arts Guild, Omaha’s Circle Theatre and St. Cecilia Cathedral’s Parish Council. Mike is a Class 17 graduate of Leadership Omaha. He is an actor and director with professional credits in film and on stage. Mike and his wife Karen have two sons and an old pug named Jack.
Rebekah Pasqualetto - Vintage Ballroom
Candidates Statement: Rebekah is an Omaha native and started her career as a journalist for Omaha’s CBS affiliate, KMTV. After a few years in news, she decided to pursue another passion: ballroom dancing. Alongside her husband, Rebekah has operated the Vintage Ballroom in the Old Market for the last five years. In addition to dancing, she welcomes out of town visitors on a weekly basis when hosting private weddings. Through her work, she’s developed a deep connection to the neighborhood. Rebekah has witnessed the ups and downs that urban growth brings and is excited to continue operating in the Old Market for years to come.
Susan Rath - Resident Inn by Marriott Downtown
Candidates Statement: I would very much enjoy being on the Downtown Improvement District Board of Directors as I have been an employee of downtown for over 20 years of my life. I was a pre-opening member of the convention center and arena working for MECA for over 10 years. I then got back on the hotel property level as the Director of Sales and have been supporting convention/tourism in our downtown community for my entire career. I am very passionate about the Improvement of our Downtown District and would be honored to serve on the Board of Directors.
Nathan Verzal - The Green Room
Candidates Statement: I grew up living in the Old Market, and now own of The Green Room on 16th Street. Downtown Omaha has given so much to my family and this position provides a great opportunity for me to give back while serving my community. There recent struggles we’ve endured are further proof that working together as a community, we are truly at our best. We must continue to ensure that our downtown remains a welcoming community for all people, from all walks of life. With understanding and compassion for all, we’ll continue to build our amazingly diverse neighborhood together. With your vote, together, we will shape the future of Downtown Omaha as one. We will continue the DID’s mission to support, preserve, create and enhance a clean, green, safe and active, competitive and thriving Downtown Omaha as a legacy for our posterity. Thank you for the opportunity to serve.