|Two new candidates seek commissioner seat|
|November 04, 2016 Jerry Purvis|
Although this is Glenn Schleve’s first run for Scott Bluff County Commissioner in District 2, he brings some political experience to the table with eight years on the Village of Morrill Board.
But Schleve’s career didn’t start with politics. He started in law enforcement while living in Valentine. Not seeing a lot of prospects, he headed west to go to Western Nebraska Community College, graduating in 1974 (when it was still called Nebraska Western College).
After graduation, Schleve hired on with the Buffalo County Sheriff’s Office in Kearney for four years. He lost a race for county sheriff, so headed west again as a safety inspector for Farmland Industries.
“I couldn’t get law enforcement out of my blood,” he said. “A job opened up to teach criminal justice at Eastern Wyoming College in Torrington. A lot of the students went on to Chadron State to complete their degrees and got into law enforcement. It was a great program.”
Schleve retired from teaching and said he would spend his time golfing. That was until his golf partner suggested he run for the village board.
A long-time Morrill resident, Schleve has served as a board member for the Village of Morrill for eight years. His final two years was as board chairman. During that time, Morrill underwent two major projects: upgrading both its water and electrical systems.
Schleve said he had thought about running for county commissioner on the Republican ticket, but knew that Steve Stratton, and his father Carl before him, were doing a good job. So when Steve announced his retirement, Schleve decided to seek the position.
“I don’t have an agenda in this race,” he said. “I have the same complaints as everyone else about roads, property taxes and the county budget.”
One of the issues on the front burner for the county is the detention center. Schleve said while the juvenile side might have been overbuilt 10 years ago, it’s still important to have a juvenile facility. The courts need a holding facility that’s close by to allow for hearings and consulting with defense attorneys. The next closest juvenile facility is in Norfolk.
He added that continued negotiations between the Attorneys General of Nebraska and Wyoming might allow for housing more prisoners in Torrington, helping to alleviate overcrowding in Scotts Bluff County.
Another ongoing concern for Scotts Bluff County residents is rising property taxes. Most of those taxes go to support the local school districts.
Schleve said he wondered of unified school districts, under one superintendent, might work locally like they have in Wyoming. In Goshen County, Torrington, Lingle-Fort Laramie, and Southeast (in Yoder) are one district.
“Unification is different than consolidation,” he said. “Unified schools retain their own identities because everyone wants local control. I still think it could be done.”
Schleve’s opponent for county commissioner Libertarian candidate Tyrel Manley, who is also making his first bid at public office.
“This is my first time running for office and I wanted to get involved rather than just sit on the sidelines and complain about the way things are going,” Manley said.
Growing up on a ranch, Manley’s family moved to the area when his mother went to work with Community Action Partnership of Western Nebraska. His father, although a rancher, was also involved in law enforcement.
“Libertarians are fiscal conservatives and I think there are opportunities for the county to keep our businesses in area,” he said. “I’d also like to see if we can get more of our tax money back from the state.”
He added the county needs to remain vigilant to keep its budget under control. Layoffs in the coal, oil and railroad industries have a big impact on the local economy.
“With those losses, we can’t keep taxing people,” he said. “The only tax money the county is getting is from property. You can only tax people so much if there isn’t any income.”
Manley said he’d like to see the county sell its 911 and data services to other counties that don’t have the means to implement advanced data collection and storage.
“I think we also have the infrastructure to serve as a jail for the county,” Manley said. “But really, I’d like to build the economy. If it were stronger, I think we’d see a drop in crime.”
Manley said the county should also keep a juvenile section at the county detention center. Between court appointments, family visits, and attorney consultations, juveniles need a place locally where those services can be provided.
With the juvenile section of the jail currently closed, the nearest juvenile facility is in Norfolk.
Roads and bridges is a perennial topic of concern for people around the county. Manley, who provides portable welding services, said he travels the backroads frequently.
“The farmers also want good roads, but their hands are tied if they try to do their own maintenance,” Manley said. “I think it’s worth considering whether the farmers want to volunteer to help with road maintenance like plowing in their own areas.”
Manley said it’s also important for the county board to keep in close contact with both and federal legislators so they understand the budget constraint counties work under.
“We have to bring those concerns to their doorsteps,” he said. “What works in large population areas usually doesn’t work here. They have a lot of tax dollars to work with and we don’t. Even with grant funding, we still have to pay a portion of that.”
Manley agreed the county should also work toward attracting new businesses to the area, especially in the manufacturing area. “People aren’t afraid to travel to their jobs out here, so I think we could attract a workforce from the entire county, not just the cities.”
Manley said that above all, he doesn’t want to waste taxpayer money and would like to see a better return on the tax monies already spent.