Cancer Center Groundbreaking Fuels Mayoral Debate
CREATED May. 8, 2013
Omaha, NE-- It's the largest construction project ever in the history of the University of Nebraska.
On Tuesday, work on Omaha's new cancer center started with a groundbreaking ceremony.
It did not take long for the celebration to turn political.
Shortly after the groundbreaking, Mayor Jim Suttle's campaign held a press conference.
Mayor Suttle was not there
His staffers pointed out that challenger and city council member Jean Stothert did not vote in favor of funding the center.
Action 3 News asked if saying "no" to the funding is the same as saying "no" to the project.
"Yes," said Aida Amoura, spokesperson for the Suttle campaign. "Everybody wants to find a cure for cancer. Everybody wants to find treatment for cancer. Everybody wants that, but if you do nothing about it and just talk about it -- wanting it isn't enough."
Stothert said this claim is untrue. She supports the center, but not the cigarette tax that's funding it.
"I did not vote "no" for the cancer center," said Stothert. "I voted "no" for the funding they were proposing for the med center, which was taxing about 500 small businesses in Omaha."
On Tuesday afternoon, Action 3 News tracked down Mayor Suttle. He shifted the focus back to the cancer center.
"Here is the point: ever since this cancer center got announced, person after person tells me, 'Mayor, you have done the right thing,'" said Suttle.
Stothert said the cancer center should have been the focus from the beginning.
"It should be a very great day for Omaha, and (Suttle) is putting a black cloud over it," she said. "He's trying to politicize it. It's unfounded. It's baseless, and I'm disgusted."
The general election is May 14.
Construction on the cancer center should wrap up in 2016.