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District I commish candidates know agriculture: Reuter eyes roads, bridges, jail
April 24, 2014 Jerry Purvis   

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Ryan Reuter

Ryan Reuter, who grew up on the family farm east of Minatare, is running for County Commissioner in District I.

After college, he spent two years teaching agriculture in northeast Nebraska, but decided to return home in 2002 to work on the family farm.

This is Reuter’s first run for public office but he said, “I want to give back to the community that raised me.”

With an interest in politics, he went through the Nebraska Lied Foundation’s Ag Leadership program, graduating about a year ago.

“The program really gave me the confidence and the want to serve my community through the political arena,” he said.

Reuter said that in talking with his neighbors, county roads are always a big issue for those who live in the rural areas. The county is responsible for maintenance on just over 900 miles of roads and 123 bridges of various sizes.

“I’m not sure what can be done about roads,” Reuter said. “You can only do so much with the funding the county has, but it’s important to keep them maintained.”

He added the challenge that county roads present is just one of the reasons it’s important for the county board to be fiscally responsible and watch where every penny goes.

“We might not always need to have the newest stuff, but those expenditures need to be addressed one by one,” he said.

In talking with retiring commissioner Mike Marker, Reuter said he learned the county always faces three major issues: roads, bridges and the county jail.

“The jail is full and that’s always going to be an issue,” Reuter said. “It’s going to be a hard sell if the county wants to expand the jail because we’re still paying off we jail we have now.”

County officials have previously said they would work more closely with the court system to find solutions to jail overcrowding.

“I have a different approach to overcrowding,” he said. “Maybe we should work on keeping people out of jail in the first place. A task force might be able to address some of those problems.”

He said he’s committed to listening to all his constituents to learn what they think is important for the county to address.

One of those “hard issues” is the recent overall 12.45 percent jump in the state’s property valuations for 2014. That is driven by a 29-plus percent hike in agriculture land valuations.

“Commodity prices have dropped but the land values still up there,” Reuter said. “I suppose the protest line for ag valuations will be long this year. But we have to listen to what the people are saying and do what’s fair for everyone while staying within county and state statutes.”

He said it’s important for commissioners to do their homework and be as fair and impartial as possible in every situation.

“If you listen and give people a sound answer, most of them will accept your decision,” he said.

Reuter is among the four candidates for the District I county board seat. Other candidates include Kirk Arnold, Chuck Cowan and Mark Reichert. With no Democrat candidates running, the race will be decided in the May 13 primary.

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