Contributor’s note: When I went to interview Mayor Stothert, I didn’t know what to expect! I was incredibly humbled when she replied that she wanted to have her voice on OMB. So, I hope this encourages you as much as it encouraged me as a young mom living in Omaha. Sometimes we think that the things we care about are minutiae, but as Mayor Stothert pointed out, maybe someday, we’ll be running the city as well!
Mayor Stothert is a transplant from the St. Louis area. She, a nurse at the time, met her husband in the ICU while taking care of a patient. The rest was history as they say! She and her husband moved around because of her husband’s credentials until finally settling in Omaha (even after visiting Omaha in shorts and sandals in the middle of an April blizzard)! She quickly became involved in Millard Schools’ PTO, the district her children attended, and eventually became a part of the school board. That was when she decided to run for the Nebraska legislature…and lost by 14 votes! She then pressed forward and eventually became the Mayor for Omaha.
How do you hope your life influences and/or inspires other women?
I ran for the Nebraska legislature in 2006 and was declared the winner after election morning. Nine days after they counted provisional votes, our race was the only one that flipped and I was behind by 14 votes, so I found out I lost. I thought, Well, I’m not going to look at this like a bad thing. I’m going to correct what I did wrong and something else will be out there. Sure enough, there was. I decided to run for city council.
There had not been a woman on the Omaha City Council for over a decade. I made up my mind that I was never going to lose a race by 14 votes, so we worked really hard. I was on city council for four years, [so] I decided I had two options: I could either run for council again and probably get reelected or really step out of the box and try to run for mayor. A lot of people said You know, honey, school board and maybe council is work you women should do, but you should leave mayor up to the men.’ Well, we’ll just show you! I just hope that I am paving the way for other women, other moms, who can also be on the city council and one day be mayor.
Describe yourself in 4 words
Wife, Mom, Grandmother, and Mayor!
Why do you call Omaha home?
There’s no doubt people use that phrase ‘home is where the heart is’. I’ve moved a lot with my husband and I’ve always loved where I’ve lived because I’ve tried to make it my home. [But when] my husband told me he had a job offer up here at Creighton, I said ‘I’ve never been to Omaha’! I didn’t like the way it sounded, I didn’t know what it had to offer. I had a bad attitude about it.
He said, ‘You go up there by yourself, I won’t influence you, I’ll have somebody meet you, if you like it, we move, if you don’t like it, we won’t. ’ I got off the plane here in April and there was a blizzard and I still had my shorts and sandals on! I thought I’m going to hate this place. By that evening, I called my husband and I said ‘I want to move here. I love it’. I don’t know what it was…there’s something about this city I love.
If we peeked inside your purse, what would we find?
Pictures of my grandchildren because they’re too adorable! They’re 7 months and 4 weeks.
Imagine yourself when you first became a mother; what advice would you give yourself?
Enjoy every minute of it. When my daughter got pregnant for the first time, she was nervous about it. I told her you just got to enjoy everything, every little stage, you’re gonna love it. [Now] she loves being a mom. I just hope that my attitude, if anything, rubbed off on her.
What is your funniest or most embarrassing kid story?
The first pets we ever got were fish, betas. One morning, one died and was floating and [my son], Andrew, was like what is this? So my husband had this long talk with him about the circle of life. Then Andrew looked at him and seemed to understand. Then Joe [my husband], said now we’re going to flush him and he tried to make this big story about flushing the fish down the toilet.
Andrew was okay with that, [but] the next day, he came in and sat on my husband’s lap. He said ‘Dad? Will Mom die someday?’ And Joe thought, ‘Oh gosh, this kid has really thought this through’ so he explained that it’ll happen someday and it’s a part of life. And Andrew said ‘Gosh! You’re going to have to get a really big toilet for her!’ He was more concerned that they were going to flush me!
A great night for me and my husband is going to dinner and seeing a movie. We love movies!
I like to shop in the brick-and-mortar stores in Omaha. I don’t do a lot of online shopping at all, so I like to shop at Von Maur, Village Pointe, and 1 Pacific Place. Those are kind of the places I go mostly…I don’t think I’ve ever bought anything on Amazon!
We love going to shows. I don’t have a lot of time to go to the Orpheum, but we’re going to Wicked. Joe and I have gone to some Broadway shows in Las Vegas, Chicago, and New York.
I always love reading books. If we go on vacation, I just love sitting on a beach and reading a novel.
Thank you Mayor Stothert for such a wonderful interview! We appreciate your service to our city.