The appointment of a white man to the Omaha City Council’s open seat in predominately Hispanic South Omaha, finds several Hispanics in the district upset with what they see as “racist” and a “slap in the face.”

Democrat Ron Hug, who was born and raised in District 4, got the nod this week over four other finalists including two Hispanics.

[View our full video report above]

Ron Hug, Appointed to District 4 (D): “I didn’t prepare any remarks for this, I really didn’t think I was going to get it.”

But Democrat Ron Hug, who spent the last 24 years on the Metro Community College Board, was picked to fill the City Council seat left open when Democrat Vinny Palermo was indicted and since convicted of federal wire fraud and taking kickbacks.

The opening, in a district that is 53 percent Hispanic, found several Hispanics applying for the post including longtime community activist Ben Salazar.

(May, 2023) Joe Jordan: "Do you think it's time for a Hispanic on the city council in South Omaha?"

Ben Salazar, South Omaha Community activist (Independent): "I’d love it. I mean I think it’s overdue.” 

Salazar didn’t make the final five. But two Hispanics did, Republican Rebecca Barrientos-Patlan and Democrat Erik Servellon.

(Sept. 7, 2023) Eric Servellon, City Council Candidate (D): “There is an opportunity here to appoint the first ever Latino- American council person and that's an awesome opportunity and one not to be dismissed.”

But it was. On the first ballot, the six-member council—three Democrats and three Republicans—left Servellon one vote short.

Clerk: “A majority has not been reached. We have three votes for Eric Servellon.”

And those were the last votes Servellon would get.

Barrientos-Patlan’s name was never called, as the third and final ballot went unanimously for Hug.

Salazar furious writing in a letter to the Omaha World-Herald: “Experienced Latino applicants…get aced out not by Ron Hug, but by this dominant strain of racism.”

Servellon shooting out an email to many: “For too long we've faced disinvestment, discrimination, racism…This vote was more of the same—a blatant slap in the face.”  

Hours before those statements, and just minutes after Hug’s appointment there was this from City Council President Pete Festersen.

Pete Festersen, City Council President (D): “I feel we had a productive group process.”

Hug was originally scheduled to be sworn in on September 26, but that’s been moved up and he’ll now take the oath of office this coming Tuesday.