Omaha North teacher, Mark Gudgel, announces his mayoral candidacy


Photo is courtesy of the Gudgel for Mayor campaign

Elena Conyers Gaines, Features Writer

Omaha North High School has produced its fair share of household names, Niles Paul, Justin Patton, Houston Alexander, but one teacher in particular wants to add his name to the list. Mark Gudgel has announced his run for mayor. 

Born in Valentine, NE, Gudgel spent most of his young life 300 miles from Omaha. In 1999, he moved to Lincoln to further his education at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. After 10 years of teaching and a wedding, he relocated to Omaha, where he began teaching at North High Magnet School.  

 Since moving, Gudgel has served Omaha North as a teacher, coach, and club sponsor for seven years, for a total of 17 years in education and in service to young people. However, he says the pandemic has made him feel, like many others in his position, brand new to the field. 

 Gudgel said that becoming a politician was something he hadn’t thought much about, until he saw the state of the local government and the lack of leadership taking place when the citizens needed it most. As a Nebraska native and longtime Omaha resident, Gudgel acknowledged there was a need for change that could only be accomplished through reimagining what governing could look like.   

 I’ve always told my students; your anger is a gift. So, you have to channel it into something productive,” Gudgel said. 

 Which is exactly what he did. Gudgel says the thought of running for office had come up a few times, but his friends encouraged him to finally make the idea a reality. 

 Although Gudgel has no past experience in politics, he believes that his extensive experience in education has been extremely influential in the way he sees the world and will continue to influence him as he moves on to this new opportunity. 

 Gudgel expressed the qualities that he feels make him fit for the job, “I have spent my life in service to young people, while the setting and office may change, the service aspect of it doesn’t.  

 Instead of viewing this candidacy as a potential personal gain, Gudgel sees it as a chance to continue his life as a public servant, and believes that anyone who is running that doesn’t think of it that way is not someone he wants in office.  

 Gudgel detailed policies of other cities that he admires and would possibly want to implement to Omaha, such as a refugee onboarding program that would act as an orientation to the city for incoming refugee families, so the transition would not be as difficult.  

 This potential plan is reflected in Gudgel’s ultimate goal of uniting people for the greater good.  

“I think we have a lot of great communities. I want to see us become a great community,”Gudgel vocalized his plans for Omaha. 

  This desire for a sense of togetherness can also be seen in some of his other community-oriented plans.  

 If he is to be elected, Gudgel said he really just wants to be visible as mayor and show he is involved with and dedicated to the city. His willingness to listen is another point of his campaign that he wants to make known.  

 “I don’t want people to think of it as City Hall, I want people to think of it as Mark, “He pledges to do his part to make city hall an accessible place where people are encouraged to reach out and communicate their concerns.  

 Gudgel also acknowledges that there will be people who he does not necessarily share the same views as, and he wants to assure the citizens that he will offer his time to engage in civil conversations. He believes there is nothing to be learned while on the defensive and aims to make sure to hear all parties without preparing defenses immediately.  

 As for home life, Gudgel has emphasized the importance of family time and keeping a healthy work/home balance. He and his staff utilize a calendar available to all to make time management easier and more efficient. Gudgel said his wife, Sonja, also had access to the calendar, and joked that if she blocked off time for family, that he was busy and that was the final words. 

 “When you’re working for the greater good and towards a greater purpose, it all seems worth it” Gudgel said as he has never felt busier, but knows it will pay off in the end as he is doing what it takes for something he is very passionate about.  

 Gudgel says that in other aspects of his life, such as his work at North, that being elected would be bitter sweet.  

 “To say that North has been a big part of my life is an understatement of hyperbolic proportions,” Gudgel expressed on his love for his profession. 

 Although he may be out of his classroom and in a new office, he promises that he will continue to have a vested interest in what is going on at North. 

 One thing Gudgel wants to make known is that he doesn’t claim to know all the answers, but he is willing to learn and have his mind changed, if that’s what will provide the best experiences to the people of Omaha. 

 For those wanting to learn more about Mark Gudgel’s campaign at, or keep up with new information as it comes out by looking into the podcast and newsletter, titled This Week in Omaha.