After the ballots are counted on Tuesday, May 11, the race for Kearney County Sheriff will be over. Two qualified candidates are campaigning for the opportunity to wear the badge.
Former Kearney County Sheriff Marshall Nelson is challenging incumbent Scott White for the sheriff's seat in this year's primary election.
Nelson, age 56, of Minden previously served for eighteen years as Kearney County Sheriff.
He is a graduate of Minden High School, Kearney State College (UNK), the National Intelligence Academy, and the Nebraska Law Enforcement Training Center. In addition, Nelson has taken specialized law enforcement courses from the University of Missouri, Wichita State University and the U.S. Department of Justice.
Nelson is a member and past president of the Fredericksburg Lutheran Church, Minden Chamber of Commerce, and the Minden Lions Club.
"While I was sheriff, I continued to further my education through seminars and continuing education courses," said Nelson. "I have over 1,500 credit hours of law enforcement education and training."
Nelson states his commitment to the community is not only professional, but a personal one.
"I have spent my entire adult life serving the public," he said. "It was a choice I did not take lightly, beginning while I was in college and continuing to today. The positive effect you can make on your community, the gratitude expressed through a glance or a smile and the knowledge in knowing you have made a difference in someone's life is a reward that cannot be matched."
Incumbent Scott White, age 52, of Minden has served as the Kearney County Sheriff for the past three and a half years.
He is a graduate of Minden High School, the Law Enforcement Training Center in Grand Island, numerous law enforcement and jail management courses and law enforcement continuing education. He is a member of the Nebraska Sheriff's Association and the Nebraska Police Officers Association.
White is a member of the Bethany Lutheran Church, and a board of director of the Minden Gun Club.
Scott White says the most important aspect of being sheriff is the ability to give something back to the community where he was born and raised.
"Serving as Sheriff allows me to work with and for the public to ensure the safety of everyone," said White. "Equally important is promoting and implementing new ideas to help keep our community safe and working with area schools to assure the safety of our children."
In order to assist the voters of Kearney County in making an informed decision, the Minden Courier prepared a set of questions that were presented to both candidates for response. The questions and candidate responses are as follows:
What critical issues do you see facing your office during your term, if elected?
Marshall Nelson-"In the forefront of my mind, in view of the KAAPA decision, are budgets and tax asking. Secondly, the prevention and investigation of crimes against property, such as burglary and theft which tend to increase in difficult economic times, must become a priority. There continues to be a dramatic increase in internet crime worldwide. Internet criminals range from scam artists to child predators and require specialized training to thoroughly investigate. The access, use and transportation of drugs in and through our communities have always been a critical issue to me."
Scott White- "I believe that funding for technology on the county level will be critical as state funding becomes less available. Additionally, as unemployment increases, theft and vandalism also increases. Another issue will be increased inmate population and the length of time spent in county jail and always, the fight against drugs."
What changes/issues do you intend to bring to the forefront, if elected?
Scott White- "One of the issues in the forefront are operational policy changes to protect the county against law suits."
Marshall Nelson-" As Sheriff, I will regularly meet with the county Board of Supervisors, each Village Board, each Fire Department and the Director of Emergency Management. I will effectively assign personnel, vehicles, and equipment for both day and night patrol to enhance response time and service. I will review every complaint received by my office insuring that each is thoroughly investigated, leads are followed up, and that the reporting party is kept aware of the status of the investigation. Each call for service will be handled in a courteous, professional, and timely manner. I will provide security checks to businesses, farmsteads, and local residents. Every member of my staff will have the opportunity to receive continuing education and specialized training."
Budget matters are always a concern. What are your thoughts on this issue, with respect to the office or board you are running for?
Marshall Nelson-"The county budget will be inevitably be affected by the KAAPA decision. Now more than ever we need a sheriff who is fiscally responsible and has the insight, ability, and experience to seek out and obtain alternative funding sources to insure our residents the level of service they deserve and expect. As your former sheriff from 1983 to 2000, I recognized the need for additional resources to address the issues of our communities, such as domestic violence and drug use. I successfully wrote numerous grants and was awarded thousands of dollars in grant funding. Every grant I wrote and was awarded as the sheriff was focused on improving service to you, adding personnel, upgrading equipment, enhancing personal safety and holding the line on taxes. If elected, I will again make every effort to secure any and all grants available to the Sheriff's office. I am confident that by doing so and with the proper allocation of manpower and equipment I will improve service throughout our county and remain within the budget."
Scott White-"I encourage people to look at my budget expenditures this last term and compare them with the past. I have very effectively managed all budgets, being well under each year. I have also located and received numerous grants and different types of funding to save tax dollars. I work closely with other agencies to save and share resources, saving tax dollars in the process."
Why should people cast a vote in your favor on May 11?
Scott White- "Citizens should vote for me because I have the required experience, technology, dedication, training and leadership abilities required to effectively and efficiently run the office. The organization and dedicated staff of the Kearney County Sheriff's office, along with great teamwork, has made the office into what I feel is one of the best agencies in the area. I am a lifelong Kearney County resident and serving the citizens is a job I enjoy. I have served the citizens of Kearney County in a law enforcement capacity for over 23 continuous years and I am able to bring a vast amount of experience to the job. One of my biggest accomplishments if fostering working relationships with other agencies. If re-elected, I will continue my dedication to the citizens of Kearney County and serve out each term as elected. I will continue to save tax dollars and utilize any and all available grants and work toward upgrading technology for the safety of the citizens. I have always run an open door policy and a listed phone number, citizens can contact me with their concerns."
Marshall Nelson-" I have the ability, insight and experience to provide you with the best possible service while holding taxes to a minimum. I laid the foundations the current sheriff's office, jail and communications center are built on. I consolidated the sheriff's office, jail and communications center into one building to maximize productivity. When the building was opened I provided the Minden Police Department full access to the sheriff's office, 24 hours a day, in an effort to improve communications and cooperation, a policy which is still in place today, resulting in improved service to the communities we serve. I re-opened the county jail, was instrumental in establishing enhanced 911 services throughout the county, acquired the radio towers and equipment necessary to provide radio and paging service to all of the fire and rescue personnel in the county and purchased tornado sirens currently in use around the county. I doubled the number of deputies and provided them with thousands of hours of training and state of the art equipment to better serve you. I established a positive and effective working relationship with community leaders, fire and rescue personnel, local, regional, state and federal law enforcement agencies. I recognize and addressed specific needs and issues facing our youth and communities, acquired thousands of dollars in grants necessary to address those needs and established the first K-9 unit in our county. While I was your sheriff, I built an office that was recognized and respected as a professional, progressive law enforcement operation based on common sense, respect and service. I have a proven reputation of honest, courteous and professional service to my community. If I am elected, it would again be my privilege to insure that you are provided courteous, professional law enforcement service, address the issues we are currently facing and those issues yet unknown.