York County Commissioner candidates discuss intent, reasons for running

YORK COUNTY – There are five candidates running for York County Commissioner seats – two seeking to represent District 2, three seeking to represent District 5.

They have each responded to a questionnaire regarding different aspects of their intentions and why they are running. These are being published exactly as they were submitted, with no editing or changes. They are being presented in the order the responses were submitted.

Name: LeRoy Ott Jr.

Commissioner District seat sought: District 2

Life status (occupation, retired, etc.): I am retired after 25 years, owner at Fillman Insurance. I am currently employed as a park mowing person during the summer and as District 2 County Commissioner.

Background (please include education, career experiences, etc.): I have a BA in accounting. Worked 25 years at Fillman Insurance. Worked four years at Hearthstone prior to that.

 

Q: What prompted you to file your candidacy for this position?

A: I was recently interviewed and chosen for the job. I simply want to serve the people of York County four more years and hep make York County run efficiently as possible.

 

Q: Is there a specific issue you want to address if you are elected?

A: I would like to help figure out the most efficient way for the county to function while at the same time providing excellent services.

 

Q: Do you feel all the individuals in the county are adequately represented and do you feel property owners reach out enough to participate in county government?

A: I think York County residents do a good job of reaching out and letting county officials know how they feel about what’s going in their county. I have received at least 100 emails about the solar project in McCool Junction, both sides being represented.

 

Q: What would you want to see the county board do differently than they are right now?

A: If I am elected, I would have “coffee day” with your commissioner once a month in the towns I would represent. I would share what was going on with commissioners and listen to their concerns. I think the more exchange there is between the people and their representative, the less confusion and conflict there is.

 

Q: There is the possibility that inheritance tax might be repealed in Nebraska. It’s been a very important revenue source for counties for decades. If it is repealed, what do you feel the ramifications will be for the county and what types of expenses should be cut if that is the case?

A: I feel that modifying the tax would be better than repealing it. Distant relatives are taxed much more than sons and daughters. If repealed, I would hope that the state would provide additional funds or take away some unfunded mandates.

 

Q: Zoning regulations have dominated the county’s planning/zoning commission and county board in recent months. How do you feel about zoning for solar projects in York County?

A: I feel that the county should proceed cautiously. I believe in landowners’ rights, as long as it does not hurt or harm their neighbors.

 

Q: There has been mention of starting the work on the zoning regulations for wind-generated energy projects in York County, as wind projects might be proposed. What are your thoughts about such projects and what regulations should be put in place?

A: I feel that wind and battery capture of energy should also be handled cautiously. These are relatively newer processes to produce electricity.

 

Q: How do you feel about the operations of the York County Courthouse’s various offices, which are run by elected officials?

A: I have been commissioner for just over two months now. I can tell you that everyone in the courthouse is working as hard as they can to provide the best service they can to the people of York County.

 

Q: Do you feel the security at the York County Courthouse is adequate or should new measures be taken in today’s world?

A: I feel security is adequate. The fact that the county sheriff’s office is in the building is a huge benefit to security. They are always there when needed.

 

Q: Serving as a county commissioner can take up a significant amount of time each week. Do you have available time to serve?

A: I am available every day of the year. I do have a summer job which has OK’d me to do this work when needed.

 

Q: York County maintains 1,100 miles of county roads. It’s the most expensive area of county spending, to keep the county’s infrastructure at top form. How do you feel about the efforts to maintain the county’s roads and could they be improved?

A: I feel the roads department is doing a good job. Could they do better, of course. There could be more continuous training. The question is where do we get more funding for roads. The roads in the country were not built for today’s farming equipment. The cost to rebuild roads is astronomical.

 

Q: The county absorbs a lot of costs associated with taking care of inmates in the York County Jail. It is state mandated. How do you feel the county is doing in addressing these ever-increasing costs?

A: I think the York County Jail does a great job of cooperating with neighboring counties for the care of inmates and the increasing costs.

 

Q: The current county jail was built in the 1980s as it is original to the courthouse. It is often over-populated as the number of inmates are limited. Do you feel the county will have to construct a new jail in the future and if so, how should it be paid for?

A: I do not see in the near future building a new jail. Improvements and updates will always need to be made.

 

Q: One of the biggest jobs undertaken by the county board is the annual budget. With the increases in costs of everything in today’s world, it is a tough job to hold the expenses within the same realm year after year. Do you feel there are areas for cutting costs?

A: I do not feel that the people would like having their services cut. I do believe that the county could be more innovated in creating revenue without creating new or higher taxes. The state eliminating some unfunded mandates would be a great place to start. If the county could create more revenue in rural areas it would help.

 

Q: What do you feel are the most important areas of spending when it comes to the York County budget?

A: Employees, facilities/equipment, roads. Good employees are so important now because of the shortage of employees in Nebraska at this time. They deliver the services we all want. I put facilities and equipment next because they are essential in even being able to provide services. Roads would be next because of the cost and time needed to keep them useful since agriculture is the biggest producer of revenue in the county and needs the roads to continue to be successful.

 

Q: Why do you want to serve your county in this capacity?

A: Your question is my answer. Because I want to serve.

I have always served my community. I served as a baseball coach for 25-plus years for kids from across the county. I have served on the York Parks and Rec Advisory Board for 15-plus years. I served on Emmanuel Lutheran School Board for 10 years. I have served on various church boards. I have served as a CASA volunteer for seven years. It’s what I do, it’s who I am. Growing up I was told by two very wise men, Jack Vincent and Tommy Toms, if you’re not helping your community you are hurting it. I want to help.

 

Name: Nicholas (Nick) Wollenburg

District seat sought: District 2

Occupation: Veteran Service Officer for Fillmore and York Counties

Background: 15 years Nebraska National Guard, almost 10 years as Veterans Services officer

 

Q: What prompted you to file for candidacy for this position?

A: To represent and be a voice for the communities of Waco, Thayer and Gresham areas.

 

Q: Is there a specific issue you want to address if you are elected?

A: Not really one issue. Working in the courthouse currently, I feel I can be a voice for the employees that serve the public and take in their concerns.

 

Q: Do you feel all the individuals in the county are adequately represented and do you feel property owners reach out enough to participate in county government?

A: Hopefully property owners are reaching out and sharing their concerns/problems so they can be addressed appropriately.

 

Q: What would you want to see the county board do differently than they are right now?

A: Open communication. Personally, I feel that a lot is being is happening behind closed doors.

 

Q: There is a possibility that inheritance tax might be repealed in Nebraska. It’s been a very important revenue source for counties for decades. If it is repealed, what do you feel the ramifications will be for the county and what types of expenses should be cut if that is the case?

A: With property tax being one of the Governors top priorities I don’t see inheritance tax being repealed right away. But we need to look at how to preserve and generate more funds if needed.

 

Q:  Zoning regulations have dominated the county’s planning/zoning commission and county board in recent months. How do you feel about zoning for solar projects in Yok County?

A: The planning/zoning commission has work tirelessly on coming up with regulation that haven’t been there before. We need to listen to those people that have been put in that position making those suggestions. As far as Solar panels are concerned, we have to rich of farm ground to be giving up for energy. a half mile isn’t that far away.

 

Q: There has been mention of starting the work on the zoning regulations for wind-generated energy projects in York County, as wind projects might be proposed. What are your thoughts about such projects and what regulations should be put in place.

A: First, I want to commend the planning and zoning board for the hard work they have done as it is not an easy job they have. Wind towers or wind mills, I look at them like a radio or tv tower. They should have to be the height of the tower plus the set backs from the road in order to prevent any damage to nearby structures and roads.

 

Q: How do you feel about the operations of the York County Courthouse’s various offices, which are run by elected officials?

A: The constituents of York County elected the face of the offices, and it is their job to run their respected offices the way they want. Right or wrong, hopefully for the betterment of the county. That’s why we VOTE.

 

Q: Do you feel the security at the York County Courthouse is adequate or should new measures be taken in today’s world?

A: Security is and has been a topic for many years. Currently there is no safety precautions in place to stop anyone from harming one another. COVID slowed the process down by having glass installed on certain offices but that is a limited group of people.

 

Q: Serving as a county commissioner can take up a significant amount of time each week. Do you have available time to serve?

A: I believe I do. That’s a bridge we will cross and except every challenge as they come.

 

Q: York County maintains 1,100 miles of county roads. It is the most expensive area of county spending, to keep the county’s infrastructure at top form. How do you feel about the efforts to maintain the county’s roads and could they be improved?

A: Yes, it does take a lot of money but we have to have adequate training and resources for our maintainers. Without qualified team members and a leadership team that understands what it takes to make a great team our roads will be what they are. But it all starts on the front line.  from the top down, to the men and/or women running the machines.

 

Q: The county absorbs a lot of costs associated with taking care of inmates in the York County Jail. It is state mandated. How do you feel the county is doing in addressing these ever-increasing costs?

A: Unfortunately, increasing costs are everywhere. I know the Sheriff and County Attorney look at every case  and make the best determination possible for each person. Sometimes the court system takes time and the cost rise.

 

Q: The current county jail was built in the 1980s as it is original to the court house. It is often over-populated as the number of inmates are limited. Do you feel the county will have to construct a new jail in the future and if so, how should it be paid for.

A: I do believe a new jail will be needed in the future. I would like to see other counties involved and possible an interlocal agreement with them to house inmates. I think that will take the burden off them and us, along with an income.

 

Q: One of the biggest jobs undertaken by the county board is the annual budget. With the increases in cost of everything in today’s world, it is a tough job to hold the expenses within the same realm year after year. Do you feel there are areas for cutting costs?

A: Honestly, it comes down to department heads and elected officials to manage their budgets. There isn’t a need to go to every conference spending money on hotels all the time. Pick and chose the ones need to get the best bang for the buck. Unfortunately, there are some offices that go to numerous of the same trainings multiple times a year.

 

Q: What do you feel are the most important areas of spending when it comes to the York County budget?

A: People. The employees are the ones who run and operate the day-to-day tasks. With out qualified, trained people then we are constantly spending money on training and not service the public people.

 

Q: Why do you want to serve your county in this capacity?

A: I want to represent the people of our rural areas and make sure that they have a voice that is heard and they can be taken care of.

 

Name: Joe Burgess

Commissioner District seat sought: District 5

 Life status:

I am graduating from York High School in May. Next year I will attend the University of Nebraska to study Chemical Engineering. I work for the City of York as a Lifeguard/Manager during the summer.

 

Background (please include education, career experiences, etc.):

I lived in Kirkland, Washington for 16 years before moving to York in 2022. My Dad, Troy Burgess grew up in York. Roger Burgess, my grandpa, lived in York and worked at Cornerstone Bank for decades.

I will graduate from York High School with a 4.0 GPA and 24 College credit hours. Outside of school, I have participated in many other education activities such as sports, Boy Scouts, Boys’ State, and I am an active member of my church.

I have worked as a Lifeguard, construction labor and mowed a lot of lawns.

 

Q: What prompted you to file your candidacy for this position?

A: I have always been interested in history and government. I have read a lot about both. Many of the founding fathers of our nation were involved in government at a very young age.

Several experiences helped me to realize that the Government was made of real people and that it was something I could participate in and have a positive impact on my community. One of these experiences was Boys’ state, where I was a committee chair and part of the legislature. Attempting to pass laws and work together with all these different people was frustrating, but also fascinating. We had the opportunity to hear two Nebraska State Senators talk about their jobs and some recent issues.

The second thing that prompted me to file was talking to Daniel Grotz. I found out that this guy I already knew was on the County Board. I talked to him about what the County Government does and what his job was. I went to a County Board meeting when School was canceled for snow and got a tour of the whole courthouse with all the Commissioners.

The third reason I decided to run is because Jack Sikes told me that I should run for his position.

 

Q: Is there a specific issue you want to address if you are elected?

A: I would like to pave the way for paving county roads. (see question about roads further down)

 

Q: Do you feel all the individuals in the county are adequately represented and do you feel property owners reach out enough to participate in county government?

A: I feel that the way the County is divided into districts helps to give voice to farmers, as well as those living in smaller communities such as Waco or McCool Junction, and of course those who live in the town of York. Daniel Grotz tells me he gets quite a few calls a week from his constituents.

I feel that the current County Commissioners make themselves available to their constituents, and in many cases would appreciate more input.

 

Q: What would you want to see the county board do differently than they are right now?

A: I would have them reconsider some of the proposed restrictions on Solar projects in York County.

 

Q: There is the possibility that inheritance tax might be repealed in Nebraska. It’s been a very important revenue source for counties for decades. If it is repealed, what do you feel the ramifications will be for the county and what types of expenses should be cut if that is the case?

A: If the bill passes, the inheritance tax will be phased out over a period of five years. Several state senators have stated that their support for the bill is dependent on whether or not there will be some sort of replacement revenue source for the counties. These two conditions should smooth out the transition by giving more time to move to a new plan.

Unfortunately, a large portion of the County Budget goes to salaries, so budget cuts will have real effects on real people.

I would examine the budget and look for spending outside of the primary responsibilities of Government.

 

Q: Zoning regulations have dominated the county’s planning/zoning commission and county board in recent months. How do you feel about zoning for solar projects in York County?

A: I feel that zoning laws are important to have, but so is freedom. These solar projects are proposed for private property, so the government should stay out as much as possible. Solar doesn’t affect adjacent properties according to the research I have done. The measurable concerns are heat and glare, but the heat dissipates completely well within the smallest proposed setbacks, and the glare is blocked by the tall fence around the solar panels that is required by the proposed regulations.

I have talked to quite a number of York County residents about solar, but I haven’t yet had the chance to discuss it with any of the Stop Industrial Solar folks, and I would like to hear their perspective.

However, I believe that the half-mile setbacks are too far. I can’t find a good reason for that distance, and I believe it is a dangerous encroachment on property rights to be going to the government to tell my neighbor what they can and cannot do with their own property.

I err on the side of freedom, and hope that people will be able to reach agreement with their neighbors without the government getting too involved.

 

Q: There has been mention of starting the work on the zoning regulations for wind-generated energy projects in York County, as wind projects might be proposed. What are your thoughts about such projects and what regulations should be put in place?

A: I believe wind projects are different from solar farms, because they completely dominate the landscape. A typical wind turbine is well over 250 feet tall, and many people find them to be ugly and noisy. I personally don’t mind them, but some people have very strong feelings about them.

I still believe that regulations are for the safety and wellbeing of the community, not just for any whim, but a County Commissioner’s job is to represent their district. If my constituents felt that certain limits needed to be placed on wind projects, I would work for that goal.

Again, I would like to see property owners communicating with each other and coming to their own agreements without having to make so much regulation.

 

Q: How do you feel about the operations of the York County Courthouse’s various offices, which are run by elected officials?

A: My experience with the various offices have been positive. It is friendlier and far more efficient than King County, Washington.

 

Q: Do you feel the security at the York County Courthouse is adequate or should new measures be taken in today’s world?

A: We live in a very safe community. I don’t feel that additional security is necessary. However, if the Sheriff or my constituents felt there was a need for new measures, I would consider bringing it to the Board.

 

Q: Serving as a county commissioner can take up a significant amount of time each week. Do you have available time to serve?

A: If elected Commissioner, I am committed to spend the time necessary to do the job well.

I talked to Daniel Grotz, the current County Commissioner from District 1, about the time commitment before I made my decision to run for office.

The busiest time for a County Commissioner is Budget season, which is during the summer. I will plan my work and school schedule around my duties as Commissioner.

 

Q: York County maintains 1,100 miles of county roads. It’s the most expensive area of county spending, to keep the county’s infrastructure at top form. How do you feel about the efforts to maintain the county’s roads and could they be improved?

A: I dislike washboards.

If elected, I intend to work on obtaining federal and state funding to pave more county roads. Concrete lasts a lot longer than gravel, and I believe paving could save the county millions of dollars down the road, as it were.

I printed a map of all the Road Classifications of York County and will research which roads are eligible for grants. It will take time, but I believe that in 4 years I could at least get a plan put in place for road improvements across the county.

 

Q: The county absorbs a lot of costs associated with taking care of inmates in the York County Jail. It is state mandated. How do you feel the county is doing in addressing these ever-increasing costs?

A: When I was given a tour of the jail with the County Board in January, the Sheriff’s Department told us that they were in a good spot at the moment with how things were running, but it costs money to keep it running that way. I feel that as long as communication between the Sheriff and the Board is frequent and clear, York County shouldn’t run into any big problems.

 

Q: The current county jail was built in the 1980s as it is original to the courthouse. It is often over-populated as the number of inmates are limited. Do you feel the county will have to construct a new jail in the future and if so, how should it be paid for?

A: This sort of recommendation is something that I would wait to hear from the Sheriff’s Department that runs the jail. If they feel that the current jail is a problem, I would certainly start working on solutions. I have read about the state possibly increasing reimbursements for holding state inmates in county jails, but I am not aware if that is realistically a money-making venture for the county.

If a new jail needs to be constructed, I feel the county should seek as much state or federal aid as possible. Otherwise, bonds are typically the way that big projects are funded. The county always needs to be careful about using bonds, because debt can be crippling.

 

Q: One of the biggest jobs undertaken by the county board is the annual budget. With the increase in costs of everything in today’s world, it is a tough job to hold the expenses within the same realm year after year. Do you feel there are areas for cutting costs?

A: I am certain that there are areas in which costs can be cut. I hate spending money and like to research the things I buy. I hope to apply this prudent attitude to the job of County Commissioner.

I was a little disappointed at the Republican Party County Commissioner Forum at the beginning of the month. Only one candidate ever came close to mentioning reducing the size of County Government. We have to be willing to consider that option (or welcome it) when budgeting gets tough.

 

Q: What do you feel are the most important areas of spending when it comes to the York County budget?

A: The most important areas of spending for York County are infrastructure, education, and law enforcement. I feel that America needs to get away from the idea of involving the government in everything. Government is there to protect its people from each other and from other governments. It is there to do the things no one else will (such as maintain hundreds of miles of gravel roads). I firmly believe that the best thing the Government can do is stay out of the way of its people, and this is certainly the case for the County Government. Increasing spending to include things other than the basic functions of the County Government is not a good idea and never was.

 

Q: Why do you want to serve your county in this capacity?

A: I have no personal agenda, but I do have a genuine interest in learning about county government and serving my community. I believe that my youth, enthusiasm and energy would be a great asset to the County Board.

 

Erick Brekke

Running for District 5 (wards 4A, 4B)

Life status: For the past 11 years, I’ve dedicated myself to firefighting with the York Fire Department, where I’m currently employed full-time. My home is in York, where I live with my wife Michelle and our two daughters, who are in high school. My journey began right out of high school when I joined the Army, serving in the 82nd Airborne Division. Following my discharge, I found work at Winnebago Industries, crafting cabinets for motor homes. This job was followed by a two-year stint as a truck driver, during which I explored 45 states. Seeking a change, I pursued an education in massage therapy at a trade school and practiced as a massage therapist for 21 years. My commitment to firefighting began with four years as a volunteer firefighter in York before making the transition to a full-time career with the department.

 

Q: What prompted you to file your candidacy for this position?

A: I decided to run for the District 5 position because I’ve lived here for 25 years and I want to help shape our community’s future. My goal is to make this a place where my daughters, and everyone else, can enjoy a fulfilling life and raise their families in a community that’s growing and vibrant.

 

Q: Is there a specific issue you want to address if you are elected?

A: I aim to persistently work towards enhancing the infrastructure within our county, particularly focusing on upgrading our road network. I’m eager to embrace innovative solutions that can alleviate some of the financial pressures we face in managing our budget. A critical aspect of our fiscal strategy involves advocating for state-level initiatives to find alternatives to the inheritance tax revenues, which play a significant role in balancing our budget. Additionally, I’m committed to adopting a visionary approach toward zoning regulations, especially concerning wind turbines, and to carefully consider the implications of zoning for other potential developments, such as nuclear facilities. This proactive stance is not just about solving current issues but preparing our county for sustainable growth and development in the future.

 

Q: Do you feel all the individuals in the county are adequately represented and do you feel property owners reach out enough to participate in county government?

A: I believe that the most effective representation of property owners in our county governance is achieved when they actively participate in the decision-making processes. Engagement and open dialogue are key to understanding and addressing the unique concerns and aspirations they have regarding county management. I am therefore eagerly anticipating the opportunity to engage with my constituents, to listen to their insights and challenges, and to incorporate their feedback into the way our county is governed. This collaborative approach not only ensures that their voices are heard but also enriches our governance with diverse perspectives, leading to more informed decisions and policies that reflect the collective interest of our community.  I fully acknowledge the unexpected nature of the solar project and the challenges it has posed due to the absence of pre-established zoning regulations. This situation has forced us into a reactive stance, necessitating the development of a contingency plan. Moving forward, I am committed to adopting a more innovative approach to anticipate and address potential zoning challenges. This includes not only considering the immediate issues at hand but also planning for future infrastructural developments such as pipelines, wind turbines, and nuclear facilities. It’s imperative that we proactively establish comprehensive zoning guidelines and requirements to navigate these complex issues effectively, ensuring that we are prepared well in advance for any similar situations that may arise. This forward-thinking strategy will enable us to maintain control over the development process, safeguarding the interests of our community and its residents.

 

Q: There is the possibility that inheritance tax might be repealed in Nebraska. It’s been a very important revenue source for counties for decades. If it is repealed, what do you feel the ramifications will be for the county and what types of expenses should be cut if that is the case?

A: The potential repeal of the inheritance tax in Nebraska presents a significant financial challenge for local county governments, likely leading to a tight fiscal environment. To address this, a detailed review of the county budget would be essential, examining each item to identify areas where reductions could be made without compromising critical services. This meticulous analysis would help in understanding the full impact of such a tax change and in making informed decisions about necessary budget adjustments. In addition to internal budgetary evaluations, it would be crucial to engage in discussions with state representatives to explore the possibility of alternative revenue sources. This proactive approach aims to mitigate the financial shortfall that the repeal of the inheritance tax could create. Advocating for the implementation of use taxes as an alternative is a strategic move. Use taxes have the advantage of being discretionary, allowing individuals to have more control over their tax contributions based on their consumption choices, as opposed to the more fixed nature of property and inheritance taxes. This system could potentially offer a more equitable and user-driven method of tax collection, where taxpayers have the autonomy to influence their tax obligations through their spending and lifestyle choices.

 

Q: Zoning regulations have dominated the county’s planning/zoning commission and county board in recent months. How do you feel about zoning for solar projects in York County?

A: Initially, my focus regarding solar projects in the county was primarily on upholding the rights of property owners who wish to embark on such initiatives. However, it’s become increasingly clear that the impact of these projects extends beyond individual properties, affecting the broader community, especially neighboring residents. It’s essential to consider the communal implications, such as visual impact, environmental concerns, and potential changes to the local character.

 

Q: There has been mention of starting the work on the zoning regulations for wind-generated energy projects in York County, as wind projects might be proposed. What are your thoughts about such projects and what regulations should be put in place?

A: To address this, I believe we can craft zoning regulations that respect the interests of property owners undertaking solar projects while also safeguarding the rights and quality of life of neighboring residents. This balanced approach would involve careful consideration of project placement, size, and design to ensure that they harmonize with the surrounding area and community values. Engaging in open dialogue with all stakeholders involved can lead to more informed and community-focused zoning policies that recognize the benefits of solar energy while maintaining the integrity of our local neighborhoods.

It’s crucial to engage in proactive discussions about potential future developments, such as wind turbine projects, within our community. Initiating these conversations early on enables us to develop a comprehensive plan that aligns with the desires and expectations of our constituents. By anticipating these developments and establishing clear regulations beforehand, we position ourselves to address any concerns or questions from the outset. This foresight not only benefits our community by ensuring that projects align with our values and needs but also provides clarity to potential developers, helping them assess whether York County is a suitable location for their initiatives. Early planning and transparent regulations can create a win-win situation, fostering a conducive environment for sustainable development while protecting the interests of our community.

 

Q: How do you feel about the operations of the York County Courthouse’s various offices, which are run by elected officials?

A: In my view, we’re fortunate to have a group of highly capable elected officials guiding our county. My interactions within the courthouse have consistently been positive, with employees who are not only efficient but also incredibly supportive. Their dedication makes navigating county processes smoother and reinforces the sense of community we value so highly.

 

Q: Do you feel the security at the York County Courthouse is adequate or should new measures be taken in today’s world?

A: Maintaining courthouse security is increasingly important today, and we must find the right equilibrium between ensuring safety and maintaining a welcoming environment. To explore our security options thoroughly, I plan to consult with various county department leaders and law enforcement officials. Their insights will be invaluable in shaping a security strategy that protects everyone while keeping our courthouse accessible.

 

Q: Serving as a county commissioner can take up a significant amount of time each week. Do you have available time to serve?

A: I understand that serving as a county commissioner comes with time commitments, especially when it involves participating in committee meetings and doing the necessary groundwork to serve effectively. Fortunately, my professional life affords me the flexibility to dedicate the required time to fulfill these responsibilities efficiently and be a proactive public servant.

I appreciate the strategic approach outlined in the current 1-year and 6-year plans for county road maintenance. The task of keeping up with the extensive network of roads is becoming more challenging, especially with inflation escalating the costs of necessary projects. This financial strain means we must make difficult decisions regarding the prioritization of projects, ensuring we allocate resources to the most critical needs first.

 

Q: York County maintains 1,100 miles of county roads. It’s the most expensive area of county spending, to keep the county’s infrastructure at top form. How do you feel about the efforts to maintain the county’s roads and could they be improved?

A: Before forming an opinion on the matter, I believe it’s crucial to engage in discussions with the York County Sheriff and my fellow commissioners to gather a comprehensive understanding of the issue. It’s clear that providing this mandated service places a significant burden on the county’s resources, and any decision moving forward needs to consider this impact carefully.

 

Q: The county absorbs a lot of costs associated with taking care of inmates in the York County Jail. It is state mandated. How do you feel the county is doing in addressing these ever-increasing costs?

A: Before taking a stance on the construction of a new county jail, I must gather additional information to fully understand the necessity of such a project. It’s worth exploring innovative solutions that could potentially serve dual purposes. For example, a new facility might offer the opportunity to house inmates from other counties, which could introduce a revenue stream that would help defray the costs associated with this significant undertaking. Such a strategy could provide mutual benefits, not only addressing our local needs but also offering support to neighboring jurisdictions, thereby fostering a collaborative approach to regional challenges.

 

Q: One of the biggest jobs undertaken by the county board is the annual budget. With the increases in costs of everything in today’s world, it is a tough job to hold the expenses within the same realm year after year. Do you feel there are areas for cutting costs?

A: Balancing a budget that ensures top-notch infrastructure, law enforcement, fire safety, and fair wages for county employees is indeed challenging. While no one prefers to cut beneficial programs, the reality of fiscal constraints means that difficult decisions are unavoidable in order to maintain the county’s financial health and service quality. Prioritizing expenditures becomes essential to sustain the core services and responsibilities of the county.

 

Q: What do you feel are the most important areas of spending when it comes to the York County budget?

A: Prioritizing infrastructure, law enforcement, and fire protection is essential, but other crucial areas within the county budget deserve attention. I’m eager to delve into the financial details and collaborate on establishing a direction that aligns with what the residents of York County prioritize and support. This process of consensus-building will help ensure that we not only maintain essential services but also invest in programs that enhance our community’s quality of life.

 

Q: Why do you want to serve your county in this capacity?

A: Should the people of my district entrust me with the privilege of representing them, I am committed to attentively hearing their voices and working collaboratively to develop solutions that garner broad support. I believe there are moments in life when it’s crucial to draw upon one’s accumulated experiences to contribute positively to the community. Engaging in open and continuous dialogue with constituents will be pivotal in addressing their needs and fostering a united path forward.

I appreciate the opportunity to express my views on the key challenges that York County will encounter in the upcoming years.

 

Name: Dean Heine

Commissioner District seat sought: District 5

Life status: Retired high school business teacher (1968-1998) Osceola Public Schools; (1966-2023) farmer, 58 years (first and last years the worst)

Background: (1963-67) I earned a teaching degree, BA+ 18 hours from Kearney State College and UNL

 

Q: What prompted you to file your candidacy for this position?

A: At this stage in my life, I have time to contribute to the duties of the county commissioner.

 

Q: Is there a specific issue you want to address if you are elected?

A: I want to see York County continue as an agricultural crop and livestock center.

 

Q: Do you feel all the individuals in the county are adequately represented and do you feel property owners reach out enough to participate in county government?

A: Yes, individuals in the county are adequately represented. Property owners participate in county government. However, with renewed interest in private land rights, discussions and attitudes are being enhanced.

 

Q: What would you want to see the county board do differently than they are right now?

A: I would like the county to give ample opportunities for different ideas proposed reflecting there are individual differences on the board and the final determinations are made on the bases of what’s best for York County.

 

Q: There is the possibility that inheritance tax might be repealed in Nebraska. It’s been a very important revenue source for counties for decades. If it is repealed, what do you feel the ramifications will be for the county and what types of expenses should be cut if that is the case?

A: There needs to be larger sources of revenue, unless the state provides revenues to cover the lost tax receipts from the inheritance tax. The county has taken from the inheritance tax fund when expenditures that the county would normally cover, natural disaster (excessive amount of snow with increased snow removal), (flood and soil erosion), (equipment, maintenance and cooperator private machines).

 

Q: Zoning regulations have dominated the county’s planning/zoning commission and county board in recent months. How do you feel about zoning for solar projects in York County?  There has been mention of starting the work on the zoning regulations for wind-generated energy projects in York County, as wind projects might be proposed. What are your thoughts about such projects and what regulations should be put in place?

A: Solar projects in the county have been largely small in nature, size and output. Until recently, projects have not exceeded the agricultural aspects. Large, retail projects will need to meet the ag and livestock use of county land. Solar zoning and regulations will follow with wind zoning projects and liquid CO2 pipelines. The safety and welfare of the agricultural use of these energies must represent the safety and survival of York County as an agricultural center.

 

Q: How do you feel about the operations of the York County Courthouse’s various offices, which are run by elected officials?

A: I feel the operations of the courthouse have been exceptional where some departments have gone above and beyond by including other counties in their decision-making process.

 

Q: Do you feel the security at the York County Courthouse is adequate or should new measures be taken in today’s world?

A: Metal detectors would need to have constant supervision. I want no life lost, but I feel comfortable entering the courthouse and feel the employees are comfortable in helping and/or assisting me.

 

Q: Serving as a county commissioner can take up a significant amount of time each week. Do you have available time to serve?

A: Yes, I have more time available to serve. I am very grateful for all the past services of the commissioners over my 79 years of being a part of York County.

 

Q: York County maintains 1,100 miles of county roads. It’s the most expensive area of county spending, to keep the county’s infrastructure at top form. How do you feel about the efforts to maintain the county’s roads and could they be improved?

A: Sixty years of traveling York and Polk County roads I’ve experienced different operators and equipment, as well as the newest methods, and yet, speed needs to be reduced from county owned equipment.

 

Q: The county absorbs a lot of costs associated with taking care of inmates in the York County Jail. It is state mandated. How do you feel the county is doing in addressing these ever-increasing costs?

A: As a county we can’t continue to provide shelter, heat, air conditioning and health care to those incarcerated without state mandates being state funded.

 

Q: The current county jail was built in the 1980s as it is original to the courthouse. It is often over-populated as the number of inmates are limited. Do you feel the county will have to construct a new jail in the future and if so, how should it be paid for?

A: No, it’s adequate. Candidates need attitude change, it is worse inside than outside of jail.

 

Q: One of the biggest jobs undertaken by the county board is the annual budget. With the increases in costs of everything in today’s world, it is a tough job to hold the expenses within the same realm year after year. Do you feel there are areas for cutting costs?

A: Any areas you’re willing to give up, throw your dollars in the hat.

 

Q: What do you feel are the most important areas of spending when it comes to the York County budget?

A: Fire, police, ambulance, communication, roads and water

 

Q: Why do you want to serve your county in this capacity?

A: To show respect to those who have served before.

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