|District I commish candidates seek accountability: Arnold stresses more interaction|
|April 17, 2014 Jerry Purvis|
Gering graduate and local businessman Kirk Arnold is seeking the position of Scotts Bluff County Commissioner in District I.
That district will have a new commissioner next year, as incumbent Mike Marker chose not to run for re-election. And with no Democrats filing, the four-candidate race will be decided in the May 13 primary.
Arnold, a political science major in college, has lived in Grand Island and Colorado before returning home. The commissioner race is his first run for public office in Nebraska, although he’s served on the town board of Granby, Colo.
Arnold has started two businesses in downtown before selling them. They were the Gering Agency Insurance and then Gabe’s Bar-B-Que. He currently has his own agency, Bluffs Insurance.
“I’ve spent some time studying how politics work, especially with the cities,” Arnold said. “There’s a lot of potential disconnect between the cities and the county and all of it can be resolved by good thinking and good experiences.”
One example he made was the county 911 emergency communications center. “It’s essential that we have it,” he said. “Maybe there were some errors in the contract, but it’s still a need. We have to throw out all the problems and ask what is best for everyone.”
As a commissioner, he said he’d like to interact with other governmental agencies within the county, such as law enforcement and the schools, and gain some insight as to how they operate. “We can all work together to make this a better place to live. We’re living today with decisions people made 50 years ago. Decisions we make today will affect people for a long time into the future.”
Another challenge he sees is how the state and federal governments are mandating more on local taxpayers – so the locals need to find a way to make that relationship work.
“We’re not going to change the federal government to our position and probably not even the state,” Arnold said. “But we can do our part to make it work to the benefit of the whole.”
He said to do that, elected officials need to keep and open mind to all the issues and weigh them for the benefit of the community.
“If you don’t understand the tax situation, you probably won’t be able to come up with a solution for change,” he said. “I’ve been a student of how cities and school boards allocate their tax monies so I can explain how it really works.”
He said another issue the county as well as communities will have to face in the future is how water is allocated. “It’s another case where federal and state agencies mandate how we have to handle the problem, so we need to find a way to do it. It’s like the rules on the playground. You live with them.”
Arnold said he’s also concerned about how the federal Environmental Protection Agency is passing restrictions on farming operations, from dust abatement to chemical application. “It’s possible if you don’t fit, you don’t farm. We’re an ag state, so that’s a concern.”
He said the real issue is how we best spend our tax dollars when some things are mandated and cannot be changed.
Arnold will face Chuck Cowan, Ryan Reuter and Mark Reichert for the District I county commissioner position in the May 13 primary.