OMAHA, Neb. (AP) _ Mayor Mike Boyle began his final days in office today and promised to ensure a smooth transition after voters reacting to his alleged abuse of power made him the first mayor in city history to be recalled.
With all but 334 absentee ballots counted in Tuesday’s special election, 55,275 people, or 56 percent, voted for Boyle’s recall, while 42,832, or 44 percent, voted to retain him.
″It has been an honor to serve the citizens of Omaha as mayor for the last 5 1/2 years,″ Boyle said in a statement. He said he and his wife were ″deeply grateful for the support and friendship so many of you have given.″
″I am keenly aware of how this election has divided the city, and I plan to work with City Council President Steve Tomasek to insure a smooth transition into the new administration,″ he said.
The statement made no mention of any plans Boyle might have. The mayor did not appear at his campaign headquarters on election night.
Chief of Staff Barbara Wright said Boyle was ″spending some much-needed time with his family″ and would appear at the dedication of a plaza Thursday.
Boyle campaign manager Jim Crounse had said the mayor was an underdog, but that he had expected a closer vote. Crounse said the election was ″more like a trial than an election, with the voters as jury. It appears they made up their minds before they had the evidence.″
The mayor did not appear at his campaign headquarters Tuesday night. Telephone calls to his house were fielded by an answering service. Boyle’s press aide, Anne Johnson, said today that Boyle had no immediate comment on the election.
″We’re trying not to gloat,″ said Jim Cleary, spokesman for the recall group Citizens for Mature Leadership. ″There’s a sense of sadness, but it’s difficult not to be happy. All these volunteers worked so hard.″
The Douglas County Election Commission staff will start a canvass of the recall ballots Thursday and will then have 10 days to certify the results.
With certification, City Council President Steve Tomasek will become interim mayor. The council would then have two weeks in which to pick someone to serve the 2 1/2 years left in Boyle’s four-year term.
Boyle is the first mayor to be recalled in the history of Omaha, Nebraska’s largest city with 340,000 residents.
He campaigned vigorously to keep his job, pointing to improvements under his administration, including better streets, a top bond rating and downtown development.
Over the weekend, he accused opponents of a ″mud-slinging smear campaign - a hate campaign.″
Cleary, who runs a public relations business and was a Creighton University classmate of Boyle’s, said his group made every effort to wage a fair campaign.
The recall grew out of a long squabble between Boyle and the police department. It began in 1981, the year he took office, when he complained about seeing police officers standing outside a go-go bar.
Last year, Boyle complained when police issued traffic citations against his 19-year-old son and when his twin 17-year-old sons were arrested for allegedly soliciting prostitution. The twins’ cases went into confidential juvenile court proceedings.
The mayor fired Police Chief Rober Wadman on Oct. 3 after the chief refused to sign disciplinary papers against officers involved in a 1985 drunken driving arrest of Boyle’s brother-in-law, John E. Howell. Boyle said the arrest was an attempt to lure him into interceding illegally for Howell.
Boyle admitted that some of the criticism against him was justified, and apologized for some harsh comments he made against opponents, remarks recall leaders cited as evidence of his improper behavior. However, he said a confrontational style was part of his job.
A recall drive last spring prompted by Boyle’s dispute with police was abandoned when organizers failed to gather enough signatures.
When Boyle was re-elected in 1985, he received 33,133 votes.