The numbers are now official. Broken Bow voters have recalled their Mayor.
In the special recall election held only 14 months after Jonathon Berghorst was elected to the office of Mayor, 619 voted Yes to remove him from office while 400 voted No. Custer County Clerk Constance Gracey confirmed that the numbers are official Wednesday morning about 10 a.m.
County Clerk Gracey presented the unofficial results to waiting media and public members at 5:40 p.m. at the Courthouse. Ballots could be dropped off up to 5 p.m. At least two ballots came in during the final ten minutes.
Berghorst was not present when the 6 p.m. Broken Bow City Council meeting began twenty minutes later. He arrived a few minutes into the meeting with his wife. Council president Rod Sonnichsen presided over the meeting in the absence of a mayor.
The council meeting, with three members present - Sonnichsen, Chris Myers and Larry Miller - was adjourned at 6:06 p.m. After the meeting, Berghorst approached each council member and shook their hand.
Broken Bow City Clerk Stephanie Wright said election results must be made official before a new Mayor can be sworn in. Now the numbers are official, Sonnichsen, as president of the council, will be sworn in as Mayor at the next city council meeting. One of the first orders of business will be to discuss appointing a replacement for him as a council member of the East Ward.
John Walters, upon hearing the unofficial numbers, said, “I’m glad it’s over and hope we can move forward.” Walters filed the affidavit to begin the recall process in late August.
Berghorst declined to comment after the meeting.
County Clerk Gracey said 1,023 ballots were received. Four ballots could not be counted due to mis-marks. Just over 2,000 ballots were mailed to registered Broken Bow voters in late December for this all-mail election.
Berghorst’s term as Mayor had been plagued with controversy almost from the beginning. He won as a write-in candidate after the first unofficial count showed the incumbent as the winner. Berghorst has been linked to an April 6 incident which has resulted in charges being filed by the Nebraska Attorney General’s office. A jury trial is scheduled Jan. 29. Four grievances were also filed against the Mayor. The city council voted unanimously on one grievance to remove a reprimand written by the Mayor from an employee’s file. In December, council member Jacob Holcomb stated that the Mayor became verbally abusive during a closed session to discuss contract negotiations, something Berghorst denied.
Like Walters, afer the council meeting, Sonnichsen used the word “Forward.”
“We’re going to go forward,” he said. “We’ve got good council members and everybody wants the best.”