Nebraska needs unity in Lincoln

Thursday, December 9, 2004

When it comes time to consider who to choose as Nebraska's next lieutenant governor, we hope the governor-to-be, Dave Heineman, looks statewide.

The easy way out would be to pick someone from state government or legislative circles in Lincoln, but the problem with that would be to continue politics as usual.

Nebraska needs unity. Nebraska needs inclusion. Nebraska needs the inspiration and excitement of new people in influential positions. The lieutenant governor selection is an excellent opportunity to provide that fresh leadership.

Gov. Mike Johanns, who President Bush has chosen to be the next Secretary of Agriculture, set the tone for statewide selections when he had openings in his cabinet. When the Secretary of State position came open in 2000, Johanns tapped John Gale of North Platte, an attorney who entered politics as a candidate for the Third District congressional seat. That has turned out to be a good choice, as Gale has conducted the duties of the Secretary of State in a thorough and professional manner.

And, later, after Lorelee Byrd resigned, Gov. Johanns called upon Ron Ross, formerly of Cambridge, to serve as State Treasurer. Ross, too, has served with distinction, restoring trust in the state's financial administration.

Earlier, Heineman had climbed the ladder in state government, advancing from state treasurer to the lieutenant governor's position. Before entering public service, Heineman lived in several Nebraska communities, including McCook and Benkelman.

Because of that exposure, the governor-to-be is aware of the quality and integrity of people across the state. He has an abundance of talent from which to choose Nebraska's next lieutenant governor.

Reportedly, one of the names that has been submitted for consideration is Jerda Garey, who served as McCook's mayor from 2002 to 2004. Mrs. Garey is following family tradition, as her father, State Sen. Don Thompson, was once a candidate for lieutenant governor as well.

Mrs. Garey is one of several people from this area who come to mind as worthy candidates for the lieutenant governor's post. Among others mentioned as possibilities are Dr. Don Blank, who proved his merit during 18 years as a member of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, and Jerry Vap, who has done a very good job on the Nebraska Public Service Commission.

Dave Heineman needs to take advantage of the talent available here and in other Nebraska communities. He needs to look statewide in his search for Nebraska's next lieutenant governor.

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