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Battle of incumbents on MUD board goes to Begley; Friend wins, too

November 9, 2018

Metropolitan Utilities District board member Jim Begley won the battle of incumbents to lead the Omaha area’s water and natural gas utility.

Begley bested fellow board member Mike McGowan for a six-year term to serve west-central Omaha’s Subdivision 1.

But McGowan gets to stay on the board four more years, too, thanks to a state law that shifted the board from at-large seats to geographic districts.

McGowan won the MUD board’s last at-large seat in 2016, so his seat is grandfathered under the law until 2022, or four more years. The seat representing Subdivision 1 has a six-year term.

His decision to run against Begley spurred surprise from some folks at MUD, including fellow board members, but he said he wanted to serve longer.

“This is the most unique race I certainly have ever experienced, and the most unique of any I’ve ever seen anybody experience,” Begley said Wednesday.

McGowan was appointed in 2010 to serve out the term of Mary Kay Begley, Jim’s mother, who had died. Two years later, Jim Begley beat McGowan.

Despite that history, both Begley and McGowan have expressed confidence that they can continue to work together on the MUD board.

Fellow incumbent Dave Friend also won re-election in a separate race, defeating Jason Valandra, a Democratic Party activist.

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