District 30 hopefuls share their opinions
Two candidates hoping to represent District 30 on the Nebraska legislature shared their thoughts on a variety of topics, Tuesday evening.
Don Schuller and Myron Dorn are each hoping to represent the district, which consists of Gage and southern Lancaster counties. The winner in the November general election will take the place of current senator Roy Baker, who is not seeking another term.
Both men attended the Beatrice Area Chamber of Commerce candidate forum Tuesday, where they were first asked what role the state should have in paying the Beatrice 6 judgment.
The Gage County Board of Supervisors recently approved raising property taxes to the legal limit as a way to raise funds for the $28.1 million judgment in favor of the six people wrongfully convicted of murdering a woman in 1985.
Dorn, who is currently the chairman of the County Board, said paying the judgment by raising property taxes was the only current option, though he feels the state should contribute.
“That’s been a real big topic in Gage County the last 8-10 years that has finally come to a point where we have started to pay on it and are paying currently all on property taxes,” Dorn said. “That is the only way in today’s state statute that a county can pay for that judgment. The role in the legislature will be as the County Board brings bills forward to get other help and relief in paying that through the form of other taxes or some other avenue, that maybe they can help fund part of that payment.”
The additional 11.7 cents of mill levy will bring the county’s total levy to 50 cents and amount in an average increase of up to 8 percent on a property owner’s total taxes, depending on where their property is. For taxpayers, that additional 11.7 cents amounts to around $120 annually on property valued at $100,000. The increase is expected to generate $3.8 million annually.
Schuller said he’s been a proactive citizen regarding the case and has written the governor asking the state to budget for the judgment and also testified in support of a bill introduced by Baker that would allow the state to pay the judgment in favor of the Beatrice 6.
“I feel the state has a responsibility in helping Gage County pay for this,” Schuller said. “That is something I was an advocate for two years ago. I formed the Gage Taxpayers Organization to get support for this movement and to approach the state for help. The County Board’s hands were tied by litigation and their attorneys’ advice. I respect that, but as taxpayers [we] did not have to sit by and wait. We can speak up, so I did.”
Schuller and his wife Julie farm in Gage County in the Wymore and Barneston areas.
He formerly worked 30 years for the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Now he has his own business performing surveys and designing conservation projects.
He’s a member of the Wymore Fire Department Board, the Barneston American Legion Post and the American Legion Riders Beatrice Post.
Dorn ran for the Gage County board in 2010 and was re-elected in 2014. He’s been the chairman of the board for two years and has been a member of the Adams Rescue department for more than 30 years.
Dorn has been a resident in the Adams area all his life. He and his wife Julie currently live on an acreage just outside of Adams. Dorn has been a lifelong farmer in the Firth and Adams area.
He served on the Firth Co-op Board for 20 years, serving as the chairman for 12 years. When the board merged with the Dorchester Co-op, he served more than two years on the board.
The candidates were also asked about Beatrice State Developmental Center and the role the state-run home for the disabled should play in the community.
“The Beatrice State Developmental Center has been doing a good job of becoming more versatile,” Schuller said. “As I understand it, there are people that are incarcerated there that have mental disabilities and that is one thing we did not have in the past. We’ve worked with the times and become more flexible to keep the Beatrice State Developmental Center active.”
Dorn talked about a previous state hearing regarding BSDC where a three-year plan for the center was discussed, and also mentioned what BSDC means to the community.
“We need that facility in the community,” Dorn said. “I was able to testify at that hearing about the fact that those people that have needs, we need to take care of them. That’s the responsibility of the state.”
Dorn, a registered Republican, said his experience on the County Board and with other groups gives him an understanding of the issues facing the area and would help him on the legislature.
“I’m running because I care,” Dorn said. “I care about our state. I care about the people of District 30. I believe the leadership I’ve shown on various co-op boards and on the County Board will be a valuable asset to have as a member of the Nebraska Legislature.”
Schuller, a registered Democrat, added he has several ideas to bring to the table if elected in November.
“I get excited about the possibility of improvements and I am enthusiastic about this,” he said. “We can make this happen. I have many thoughts on how we can make Nebraska better and our people better. I will work hard for this because I am not a quitter.”