Names popping up to replace Palermo
Accused of federal fraud and corruption charges and unable to get out of jail, Omaha City Councilman Vinny Palermo’s council-clock is ticking. If his chair stays empty, come July 25th he’ll lose his seat and the council will begin plans to replace him.
Some expect the council's three Democrats and three Republicans to squabble.
Ben Salazar, South Omaha Community Activist: “I think each party is already positioning themselves to find either a Democrat or a Republican.”
Names already being mentioned include former City Councilman Garry Gernandt, who held the South Omaha seat for 16 years before retiring in 2017.
Gernandt tells NCN he’s “interested”, would bring “experience”, would be proud to finish out the remaining two years of Palermo's term. He won’t commit to running in 2025 for the next full four year term
There’s also Omaha School Board member Margo Juarez who tells NCN she’s looking at the post. If selected, she’d be the first Hispanic on the council.
And given the growing Hispanic population in the district, there are those who say that time has come.
Salazar: “We have one Hispanic elected official that's Roger Garcia, County Commissioner, but other than that we got pretty much zero at every level of city and county government not just elected officials but appointed. Believe me I think it's overdue.”
Joe Jordan, News Channel Nebraska: “What about you?
Salazar: “I'm not pushing myself as a potential candidate. If someone were to invite me to join the council I'd probably say yes, I'm not looking to be coy about it.”
Jordan: “Is there someone you're going to get behind?”
Salazar: “I don't have anybody in mind, Joe.”
Regardless of who gets the job, both Gernandt and Salazar tell NCN Palermo’s replacement has their work cut-out for them; that Palermo’s arrest and indictment finds many here in South Omaha angry and frustrated, wondering how to restore trust in city government that’s been broken.