The runner-up in May’s only contested primary for North Platte City Council has withdrawn, leaving the winner currently unopposed in November’s general election, according to the Lincoln County Clerk’s Office.
Susan Conrad declined the voters’ nomination for the open Ward 4 council seat July 2 for health reasons, said Chief Deputy County Clerk Terry Heessel. Conrad, a homemaker and self-employed artist, received 185 votes to Ed Rieker’s 197 in the district, which covers North Platte’s north side and the city’s downtown between Fourth Street and the Union Pacific tracks. Jerry Ochoa was third with 172 votes.
Conrad’s decision leaves Rieker, a former North Platte Housing Authority board member, without an opponent for now in the Nov. 6 general election. Though Ochoa finished behind Conrad, Heessel said, the Nebraska Secretary of State’s Office has said he doesn’t automatically advance to the fall ballot due to Conrad’s withdrawal.
State law, however, does allow defeated primary candidates to seek to enter the general election by write-in or petition if a ballot vacancy occurs in their race. That would allow both Ochoa and Tracy Martinez, who received six votes in the May 15 primary as an official Ward 4 write-in candidate, to try again alongside Rieker and any other Ward 4 residents who might try the write-in or petition route.
If a candidate gains enough petition signatures, Heessel said, his or her name would be printed on the November ballot along with Rieker’s name. By law, would-be petition candidates have until Sept. 1 to turn in completed petitions to the County Clerk’s Office, which doubles as the election commissioner’s office, State law requires them to collect valid signatures from registered voters equivalent to at least 10 percent of Ward 4’s total vote for president in the 2016 general election.
Heessel said would-be write-in candidates may file an official affidavit with the clerk’s office to best ensure that write-in votes for them are counted. Such affidavits are due under state law by Oct. 26, the second Friday before the November election.
For information, call County Clerk/Election Commissioner Becky Rossell at 308-534-4350, extension 4111.