All but 3 of the active candidates in the 3 contested primaries in Dawes County took part in Tuesday night’s Chadrad Communications Candidates Forum at Chadron City Hall, which was also on Great Plains Cable TV, and streamed on YouTube.
Missing were Chadron City Council challengers Teddy Hamer and incumbent Crawford City Council members Ronnie Thompson and Ed Kuhnel
The 3 challengers for Thompson and Kuhnel – Ernie DeGunia Jr, Shane Norman, and April Grant – all cited increased communication as one of the prime needs in Crawford and one of their top priorities.
They also all said the city and the Ponderosa Villa nursing home need to explore all possible sources of funding and other support to keep the Villa open.
District 2 Dawes County Commissioner Vic Rivera cited his experience and management skills while political newcomer Travis Nitsch said the county needs to improve its roads, create new economic development, and help boost tourism.
The 6 Chadron City Council candidates had the longest night as they drew more questions than the first 2 races, especially from the in-person audience.
Incumbents Mark Werner and Cheryl Welch and challenges George Klein, Jason Dye, Mark Graves, and Shane Shepherd all touted their ties to Chadron.
Shepherd, Graves, and Dye are natives, Klein came to town in 1981, Welch arrived as a CSC student 21 years ago, and Werner chose to raise his family in Chadron after retiring from the Navy over a decade ago.
Graves said he has no platform and no problem with the status quo, he just wants to serve Chadron and its residents. Klein, appointed Monday to fill a council vacancy until early Dec, and Dye both said they also want to serve or represent all citizens.
Shepherd told the audience he will focus on infrastructure improvements and growing the tax base while Werner called the federal infrastructure stimulus money coming to Chadron a once-in-a-generation chance to invest in the future.
Welch said she’s shown in nearly 4 years on the council that she’s willing to ask the hard questions while bringing a woman’s voice and perspective to the council – adding that she’s now the only female actively campaigning for the seat.