Opinion

Sen. Baker served us well

Thursday, December 21, 2006

It's hard to believe that the new year will begin in less than two weeks. With each new year, comes change, and this year, in the Nebraska Legislature, the change will come in the 44th District.

While working at the Gazette, I had ample opportunity to get to know Sen. Tom Baker.

I visited him on a weekly basis at the McCook Chamber of Commerce' weekly telephone conference and met one-on-one with him when the opportunity arose. My most memorable interview was on a day just prior to the opening of a legislative session, when I met him at his convenience store in Trenton.

He took a break from repairing tires to sit down and visit.

That day proved to me that Tom Baker was not one of those "politicians" that jokes are made of.

He is a working man, who saw the need for someone in the State Legislature who would represent the needs of the people of Western Nebraska -- and, in the eight years he served as our legislator, he represented us well.

As you drive around the area, you will notice some of the changes brought about, in part by the hard work of Sen. Baker. One of the most visible can be seen just east of Trenton, along U.S. Highway 6 and 34. The support given to economic development by Senator Baker's as well as of other led to the development of the state's ethanol production program.

Programs supported by Sen. Baker also helped develop Kauffman Trailers in Beaver City.

While I worked as city editor, I had the opportunity to go to Lincoln and "shadow" the senator for two days. His days began early and ended late. During his two days, he met with lobbyists, debated bills on the legislative floor and took calls and answered e-mails from his constituents. He debated issues with other senators and bargained for support from other senators on issues important to his district.

During my two-day stay in Lincoln, I was allowed to sit in on a closed session, discussing and ultimately concluding the Low Level Nuclear Waste Compact lawsuit against the State of Nebraska.

By the time my two days were up, I was exhausted, and yet the senator continued with his obligations without missing a beat.

Change is always in-evitable. But the knowledge and tenure of Sen. Baker will be missed in Lincoln.

And that's not to say that Senator-elect Mark Christensen won't do a good job for the people of the 44th District.

I just hope he's willing to learn from the understanding, knowledge and expertise that Sen. Baker has garnered over the past eight years.

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