2023 ODIDA Board Election Candidates
Voting will begin and ballots will be available to District residents, business tenants, and property owners on October 31, 2022.
Voting will look different this year as we will be using the easy and secure Election Buddy platform. Voters will be mailed a postcard with a specific voter verification code to use that will take them to their ballot online. Personal voting keys are created and can only be used once. Votes are confidential and cannot be seen by others. Voters can still request a paper ballot to be mailed by contacting the Omaha City Clerk’s Office (402-444-5550).
Voters must vote online or mail in a requested paper ballot in a specially marked envelope to Omaha City Clerk’s Office no later than 10 AM on January 31, 2023. The DID election will be supervised by the City of Omaha City Clerk, Elizabeth Butler.
Results of the election will be released by February 15, 2023.
Ward 1 - Electing 1 seat
- Nicole Fox - 105 S 9th Street
Candidate Bio: I am a 16-year resident of Downtown Omaha – I was one of the first people to move into the Beebe Runyan building and have watched the downtown area evolve significantly since that time. I am running for a second Omaha Downtown Improvement District board term. My priorities are public safety and making downtown Omaha inviting to both those living in other parts of the metro area as well as visitors from out of town. In my professional life, I work for a think tank that collaborates with business owners, entrepreneurs, and government officials to identify policy solutions to lessen economic barriers and promote economic opportunities. Omaha has been my home for 23 years, and I believe community involvement is important. I also serve on the Board of Directors for two other Omaha organizations - Victory Boxing and Rejuvenating Women. I would be honored to serve a second term for the Omaha Downtown Improvement District.
- Write-in Candidates
Ward 2 - Electing 1 seat
- Joseph Giitter - 1146 Mayberry Plz
Candidate Bio: Joseph Giitter is currently serving on as the current Ward 2 Property Owner Board Seat and the Executive Board of the Omaha Downtown Improvement District as the Chair of the Activation Committee. As the Activation Committee Chair, Joe led an effort to design, create and distribute post cards to downtown hotels and the visitor center that link (via QR code) to a weekly newsletter that lists current events in downtown Omaha. Joe is currently leading a project that would result in the placement of artwork in strategic locations throughout downtown Omaha. Joe is the owner of Bohemian Photoworks, a creative content provider located in Downtown Omaha. Prior to moving back to Omaha, he served as a senior executive at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and taught at the Washington School of Photography. Joe has a proven track record of employing political savvy, business acumen, strategic thinking, and other executive competencies. He holds engineering degrees from Iowa State University and the University of Tennessee and a Photographic Master from Montgomery College. Joe is currently the Vice-President of the Professional Photographers of Nebraska and an Adjunct Professor of Photography at Bellevue University. His photographic works have been featured in numerous public venues and galleries in both the DC and Omaha area.
- Ryne Bessmer - 1233 Marcy Plz
Candidate Bio: Ryne Bessmer is an Omaha native with strong Nebraska roots that go back 4 generations in northeastern Nebraska. He studied economics and finance at Hillsdale College in Michigan and now runs his family business, Strada Healthcare. Ryne has served on numerous non-profit boards in Omaha, including The American Red Cross, Angels Among Us, Young Catholic Professionals, and the Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Board. Ryne was selected to participate in Leadership Omaha (Class 40) and was appointed by Mayor Stothert in 2018 to serve on the City's Administrative Board of Appeals. Ryne's top five Gallup Strengths: Activator, Competition, Futuristic, Positivity, Significance. In his personal life, Ryne enjoys playing violin, being active outdoors, and getting involved in anything related to downtown Omaha. Ryne and his wife Julie are very involved with Saint Cecilia's Cathedral and currently live in SoMa Row Houses. They are looking forward to raising a family in downtown Omaha.
- Write-in Candidates
Ward 3 - Electing 2 seat: The candidate with the most vote will fill the 4-year term seat open. The second runner up will fill the 2-year term seat.
- Robert Opfel - 300 S 16th St
Candidate Bio: Hello, my name is Robert Opfel. I have lived in Omaha off-and-on for about 30 years now, last 10 of which have been in the downtown area. I currently reside and serve as Vice-President on the HOA Board of the Farnam 1600 Condominium building at 16th and Farnam. I am also one of the organizers for the new neighborhood association for the Orpheum Theater District (the neighborhood between 20th Street and the Old Market). I possess my Master’s degree in Accounting from Bellevue University and work as a Fund Accountant at Ultimus Mutual Funds. My interest in serving on the ODID is to facilitate communication and cooperation between the ODID and the various business, community, and residential organizations. I am also interested in helping to organize local input from downtown residents in the new and exciting developments taking place in our neighborhoods, such as the proposed streetcar and riverfront development. I believe there is a lot of potential for collaboration between organization so that we have more of an active role from local residents and small businesses in the improvement of downtown Omaha.
- Linda Hayek - 1403 Farnam St
Candidate Bio: Linda Hayek, homeowner at the Paxton since 2010. I enjoy the arts, entertainment, and diversity that are available here. At 14th and Farnam, I have a front row seat to watch the developments at the Gene Leahy Mall…and more. While I do not enjoy the inconvenience and noise of construction, I enjoy the progress. It’s a love/hate relationship, to be honest. I am a native Nebraskan, now retired from 34 years as a high school math teacher with grandchildren of my own. I love kids! All of us use the new park in more ways than I dreamed. Living close to the MIssouri River allows me bike or walk across the Bob Bridge to access the trails and quiet country roads in Iowa. I bike over 5,000 miles per year, which is more than I drive my car. Safe outdoors activity is central to a good life because we never outgrow our need for outdoor recess! As a part-owner of a family restaurant in North Downtown, Hook and Lime, I also bring a small business owner’s perspective. I hope to add my voice to ODIDA in the pursuit of a clean, green, safe, and active neighborhood.
- Write-in Candidates
Ward 4 - Electing 1 seat
- Arnold Reeves - Omaha Preforming Arts 1200 Douglas St
Candidate Bio: Arnold Reeves is a current Ward 4 property owner board member for the Downtown Improvement District where he serves as Treasurer. Mr. Reeves holds a master’s degree in Public Accountancy from University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. Arnold Reeves joined O-pa in March 2006 where he is responsible for the finance and administration department which includes all financial and accounting for Omaha Performing Arts and the OPAS Foundation, facilities and housekeeping, Ticket Omaha, back of house, information technology and food service and event coordination. Prior to O-pa, Mr. Reeves was Chief Financial Officer for TEK Industries, Inc. in Fremont, NE. Additionally, he worked at West Corporation for six years and held positions as the Controller for West Direct and Director of Corporate Tax. Mr. Reeves served as a Senior Tax Consultant at Deloitte and is a Certified Public Accountant and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Nebraska Society of Accountancy.
- Write-in Candidates
Residents - Electing 3 seats:
The top two candidates with the most votes will fill 4-year term seats. The third runner up will fill a 2-year term seat.
Tina Cherica - 1131 Leavenworth St
Candidate Bio: Tina Cherica currently serves as the President and CEO of the Omaha Zoo Foundation and is responsible for the philanthropic sustainability of Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium. While she is a strategic and mission-driven executive with expertise in nonprofit operations and financial management, her strengths lie in communications, team building, stakeholder management and engagement at all levels. A lifelong resident of Omaha, she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and has served in volunteer leadership roles with multiple nonprofits. She currently serves as an advisory board member to SHARE Omaha and on the development committee for FilmStreams. She and her husband John have been residents of the downtown community since 2012.
Rosemary Keenan -1520 Harney St
Candidate Bio: My name is Rosemary Keenan and I am a 24 year old software developer from Bellevue. I've been living in downtown Omaha for just over a year, and I've been working for First National Bank of Omaha in the downtown corporate office for just as long. In that time, I've seen a lot of changes and shifts happening downtown (the library demolition, the new Gene Leahy Mall, the recently announced streetcar project, the new residential/commercial real estate addition to the Old Market, etc) and they've inspired me to become more involved with my neighborhood. I feel like these changes are going to spur a lot of discussion around downtown; and I'd love to be right in the middle of it, helping to facilitate common goals and principles we can work for as a community to help make Omaha a more inclusive, activated, and sustainable city!
Edwin C. Schroeder - 621 S 15th St
Candidate Bio: My wife and I moved to Omaha in summer 2021 and were excited at the opportunity to live in downtown Omaha. Since that time, we have enjoyed exploring and taking advantage of the restaurant, cultural and sport activities that are easily accessible. Downtown has so much to offer residents, visitors and downtown workers, but it also has challenges that need to be addressed. I recently became one of the few “resident” members of the Old Market Association, both to learn more about the priorities of the Old Market businesses and to help think creatively about how to better connect downtown residents to the community. Before moving to Omaha, I was a librarian for more than 30 years at Yale University. For the last ten years I was director of the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, where I managed more than 100 staff and a budget of $45 million. One of the goals that we had was to make the library as open as possible to visitors from around the world. Pre-pandemic we annually averaged more than 200,000 visitors. I would bring my administrative experience as well as an interest in building a vibrant downtown community to the Board of Directors of ODID. I have also served on the board of multiple organizations, including serving as chair or president. These were either library or Connecticut related.
Ann Stafford - 225 N 12th St
Candidate Bio: Ann Stafford enjoys living in downtown Omaha and being a part of the community. She relocated here for work a year and a half ago. Since arriving, she has embraced getting to know the businesses and non-profit communities in downtown. She volunteers at Prairie STEM, Inc. Together Omaha, and the Emerging Ladies Academy. Ann has a passion for preserving a city’s history while enhancing the neighborhood environment as a place to live, work and play. She is committed to being an involved and working board member. While every downtown is unique Ann brings her background as serving as the Executive Director of Downtown Middletown Business Improvement District in New York as well as being a Planning Board and Architectural Review Board member. Ann and her husband Jeff are both executives with UnitedHealthcare and are very proud of their three adult sons. The Stafford family is active in supporting education, public health, and social programs.
- Write-in Candidates
Business Tenants - Electing 3 seats
Billy Coburn - Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - 1208 Howard St
Candidate Bio: URBAN LIVING, DEVELOPMENT, AND DESIGN AS WELL AS MODERN AND ECO!MINDED RESIDENTIAL OPPORTUNITIES. THROUGHOUT HIS CAREER, HE HAS SOLD ACRES OF URBAN CENTRIC LIVING SPACES, NEGOTIATING OUTSTANDING DEALS FOR HIS CLIENTS. Billy has achieved extraordinary goals throughout his career in real estate. Formerly with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, he was recognized as their top-producing individual agent, named to the Presidential Council, and consistently ranked as a multi-million dollar producer for his work supporting Omaha’s urban core. While living in Denver, Billy earned degrees in both advertising design and leadership development, which renders him uniquely adept at personalizing the marketing of his listings. His education and experience—along with his extensive network throughout the Omaha community—works to the benefit of all of his clients. Billy is a passionate ACE®-certified fitness instructor, holding multiple certifications for Indoor Cycling/Spinning®, TRX®, and BOSU® training. He teaches local cycling classes and is a regular contributor to the Indoor Cycling Association. In addition to health and wellness endeavors, he spends the majority of his free time supporting Omaha’s exceptional cultural opportunities and food scene as well as hanging out with his beloved English Bulldog, Baldwin.
Adam Sitzmann - BVH Architecture - 901 Jones St
Candidate Bio: Adam Stizmann is an Architect at BVH Architecture (901 Jones St). He joined the ODID Board in March 2020 and has been chair of ODID's Pedestrian Amenities Committee since March 2021. Since then, the committee has successfully completed a comprehensive inventory and interactive map of over 800 district planter beds, replaced over 60 ignored beds with new plants and trees, established the Trash Can Replacement Project, and initiated the Downtown Tree Guard Pilot Project. Adam is also involved in other community groups that integrate into the ODID including Restoration Exchange Omaha and Keep Omaha Beautiful, where he has led volunteer efforts including a 100-block downtown clean-up for the CWS.
John Sova - RDG Planning & Design - 1302 Howard St
Candidate Bio: John Sova is the Principal of RDG Planning and Design. He is also a current ODIDA Business Board seat and the current President of ODIDA. He has been on the ODIDA board Since August 2010.