- Associated Press - Sunday, August 21, 2016

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - State Sen. Heath Mello announced his campaign Sunday to challenge Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert.

The Democratic lawmaker said he’ll offer a new vision for Omaha to address its infrastructure problems and try to retain talented young residents with high-paying jobs.

Term limits will force Mello to leave the Legislature at the end of this year. He has represented south Omaha and led the Legislature’s appropriations committee.

Mello, 37, will face the Republican Stothert in next spring’s election, although the mayor’s race - like the Nebraska Legislature - is officially nonpartisan.

“I look forward to what I think Omaha deserves a great debate about the future of our city,” Mello said. “I really believe if we are going to build the city of the future, we are going to need to talk about the big ideas and big problems we are going to face.”

Mello’s proposals include creating an infrastructure bank to raise money for needed street repairs, working to make Eppley Airfield an international airport and adding more high-paying jobs.

Stothert, 62, is completing her first term as mayor after being elected in 2013. Before that she served on the Omaha city council and Millard school board.

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