Joe Burgess will serve as District 5 York County Commissioner, starting in 2025

Joe Burgess

YORK COUNTY – Joe Burgess received the highest number of votes during the Primary Election, in his race for District 5 York County Commissioner.

He ran against Dean Heine and Erick Brekke for the seat which is currently held by Jack Sikes. Sikes did not seek reelection.

Because all the candidates were Republicans, the Primary Election ultimately determines who will take the oath of office next January.

Burgess received 152 votes, compared to 124 for Heine and 112 for Brekke.

Burgess graduated from York High School just two days ago, as a senior in the Class of 2024. Next year, he will attend the University of Nebraska to study chemical engineering. He has also worked as a lifeguard for the City of York during the summer, as well as in the areas of mowing lawns and working construction.

As part of an interview prior to the election, he talked about how he lived in Kirkland, Washington, for 16 years before moving to York in 2022. His father, Troy Burgess, grew up in York. And his grandfather, Roger Burgess, worked at Cornerstone Bank for decades.

When asked what prompted him to file his candidacy for this position, Burgess said, “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 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,” Burgess said.

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

When he was asked what he’d like to see the county board do differently, he said, “I would have them reconsider some of the proposed restrictions on solar projects in York County.”

Burgess said further, about zoning for solar projects, “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.”

When Burgess was asked about the condition of the county’s roads, he responded: “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 four years I could at least get a plan put in place for road improvements across the county.”

And further, Burgess said he “has no personal agenda, but I do have a genuine interest in learning about county government and serving my community. I believe my youth, enthusiasm and energy would be a great asset to the county board.”

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