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Escamilla to seek third term on Gering council
April 06, 2012 Jerry Purvis   

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Manuel Escamilla, who has served as a Gering City Council member in Ward IV for the past eight years, is seeking a third term to the board.

“My community involvement began through GO Baseball when I coached my kids,” Escamilla said. “I also got involved in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. I was a Cub Master for two years and was an Assistant Scoutmaster with Troop 17.”

Escamilla has been a social worker with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services for the past 33 years. He was also appointed to a four-year term on the Nebraska Equal Opportunities Commission by then Gov. Ben Nelson.

“That job gave me some background in personnel issues,” he said. “We had to review hundreds of alleged discrimination cases to see if there was any merit to them.”

He said that experience has helped him on the city council as they revise their personnel policies.

Escamilla said he became more interested in city government through his involvement with Leadership Scottsbluff. It was because of that group he decided to run for office.

During his first term of office, he helped get the national holiday of Martin Luther King’s birthday recognized locally.

“People had talked about it before, but it was never discussed by the council,” Escamilla said. “I think it was important we recognize the contributions he made in the area of civil rights. It was a difficult time for the nation.”

Escamilla said he was happy he was part of the hiring process that brought Lane Danielzuk to Gering as city administrator.

“I’ve heard Lane described as one of the best city administrators we’ve had, and I agree,” he said. “Although he’s rather soft-spoken, his expertise shows through. He has a great ability to lead.”

Another highlight Escamilla pointed out was the long process to bring a new supermarket to Gering. He said the new store is a big plus for the city, both for convenience and for economic development in the downtown area.

When he looks to the future, Escamilla said the city needs to plan for emergency expenses that come up for things like unexpected water main breaks, which can cost thousands of dollars to repair. He wants to continue working with the various city departments to make sure the infrastructure needs are being met.

Escamilla said another challenge for the council is to begin the identification process for a new landfill. Gering currently accepts waste from both Scottsbluff and Mitchell. The landfill is expected to run out of space in about 15 years.

“That’s a multimillion dollar project that will have to occur,” he said. “It takes years to locate the property and get all the permits, so we need to start now. The decisions we make today will have an effect years into the future.”

Escamilla will face first-time candidate Troy Cowan for the Ward IV seat on the city council. That race won’t appear on the ballot until the Nov. 6 general election.
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