Kelly: Is it the real Mayor Jean Stothert or is it her 'twin'? - Omaha.com
Published Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 2:17 pm
From the Notebook
Kelly: Is it the real Mayor Jean Stothert or is it her 'twin'?

Karen Jarnecic says she has been mistaken so many times for Mayor Jean Stothert, “It's starting to make me laugh.”

Not in a bad way.

“I find it flattering, and I'm a big fan of hers,” Karen said, “although I don't think we look that much alike. But my friends think I could be her stand-in for security purposes.”

There are similarities. The mayor is 59 and stands 6 feet tall, and Karen is 52 and 5-foot-7. They wear their blond hair in similar styles.

At a farewell for departing priests last weekend at St. Leo Catholic Church, a parishioner was overheard saying excitedly that the new mayor was there.

Someone told her, “Oh, that's just Karen.”

Karen (her Croatian last name is pronounced Jarna-see) is more than “just Karen.”

She was born and raised in Omaha, and she graduated from the old Ryan High and the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She has worked for 28 years at ACI Worldwide, where she is director of merchant alliances.

The first time that someone mistook her for Stothert was a few years ago, when Karen dropped off clothing at a tailor and was asked if she was on the City Council. She didn't give it much thought.

But as Stothert became more publicly visible, and especially since she ran for mayor and took office June 10, Karen has noticed more people noticing her.

While she was getting a pedicure, the woman next to her said, “You look familiar. You're that lady, the politician.”

Karen has not met Mayor Stothert but has seen her out in public. “She looks fantastic.”

Eager to vote for her for mayor, because “she's not afraid to speak her mind and take tough positions,” the mayoral look-alike picked up her ballot last month — but was disappointed.

It turns out she lives just outside the city limits in Nelson's Creek, near 144th and Blondo Streets, an area that hasn't yet been annexed by the City of Omaha.

In any case, Karen hasn't tried to pull a fast one to get a good table at a restaurant or any other perks.

“I just hope to stay out of trouble,” she quipped, “and not give her a bad name.”

Long ago, I started out in Omaha young, broke and single, so I can appreciate the city's new No. 6 national ranking among cities to live in if you are “young, broke and single.”

It's not as wacky as it sounds. Moneyunder30.com ranked areas on metrics that matter to “young professionals trying to launch a career, find love and stretch a still-meager paycheck.”

The website looked at cost of living, unemployment, number of singles ages 18 to 44 and, yes, the number of bars. It also mentioned that Newsweek ranked Omaha as one of the nation's top 10 “high-tech havens.”

OWH Columnists
Columnists Michael Kelly, Erin Grace and Matthew Hansen write about people, places and events around Omaha. Read more of their work here.

Noting that Omaha is the home of famed investor Warren Buffett, the site says: “The happy juxtaposition that allows billionaires and broke young adults to coexist falls to several factors. First off, Omaha is home to a very cool music scene for a city of just 400,000. Also, Omaha has revitalized its downtown and gotten smart about diversifying its employment base beyond the industries that first built the city.”

Austin, Texas, was ranked first, followed by Salt Lake City; Durham, N.C.; Columbus, Ohio, and Baton Rouge, La. New Orleans was seventh and Des Moines was eighth.

It's been fun reading articles from around the country about Omaha and the College World Series, including plaudits even after teams are eliminated.

University of Louisville junior Jeff Gardner told the Louisville Courier-Journal: “It's everything that people have ever said it was to me. People talk about how special Omaha is, and it truly is.”

The Omaha mother-daughter singing duo of Jaymie and Kelli Schilken, who call their act Belles & Whistles, has been booked for the main stage of the Country Stampede next Saturday in Manhattan, Kan.

“This is our biggest gig to date,” said mom, known professionally as Jaymie Jones. ”A lot of industry folks keep an eye on this festival, so we hope it leads to playing more country music festivals.”

The duo will open for the likes of Trace Adkins, Scotty McCreery, Casey James and LoCash Cowboys, and then plans to spend most of July in Nashville, Tenn.

Kelli, who will be a junior at Omaha Westside High, has another date this summer — she has to get her wisdom teeth pulled.

Contact the writer: Michael Kelly

mike.kelly@owh.com    |   402-444-1000

Mike writes three columns a week on a variety of topics.

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