The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

Challengers on the Ballot

Strommen, Wiegand Seek Office

 

April 13, 2022 | View PDF

In a little less than a month, Cheyenne County voters will cast their choices on the few contested races on the Primary Ballot.

Races that are not contested will not appear on the Primary Ballot. They will, however, be on the General Election ballot in November. The one contested race is for Clerk of the District Court with Incumbent Debra Hume and Mindy Wiegand competing for the seat. Both are Republican and the decision will be made in the Primary Election.

Also new to the ballot are Paul Strommen and Rusty Gulbranson. Strommen is running for Sidney City Council and Gulbranson for the Sidney Board of Education.

Survey questions were offered to candidates, first to the new candidates. Strommen and Wiegand's responses are as follows.

Also remember Early Voting ballots are now available in the County Clerk’s office.  The ballots can be mailed, picked up or voted in the office.

The following are responses submitted by Sidney City Council candidate Paul Strommen and District Court Clerk candidate Mindy Wiegand:

Paul Strommen:

* Tell me about yourself: what do people need to know about Paul?

First of all I would like to thank the community of Sidney for considering me for City Council. This is a great community and I would work hard for Sidney’s citizens if I were elected.

My wife and I moved to Western Nebraska in 2006, 15 years ago. I have worked in the Corn Ethanol Industry since that move. During that time through the present I have been extremely active in the energy sector. I was recently appointed to the Nebraska Oil and Gas Commission located here in Sidney. In my spare time I enjoy outdoor activities such as hunting, hiking and fishing.

* Why are you interested in city council?

I decided to run for City Council this year to try and help foster the growth of the community. There is so much untapped potential here. I believe there could be a stronger connection between city and industry, as well as city and county. We can accomplish much more in our region if we can work together to form strong positive relationships. 

* What are some skills, assets you would bring to the city council?

I have spent the last 15 years building and maintaining strong personal and business relationships. Listening to what people have say, asking questions and listening to those answers so that you can better understand the issues really helps to form and develop positive solutions.

* Do you have a specific focus regarding city council? (development, procedures, be part of change…)

Economic development: We have younger people investing in and starting up local businesses but we need more. Locally owned smaller businesses give our community members the opportunity to buy locally. Keeping the money in our community is key for economic recovery and growth. If we can work to keep our money here we will all benefit. There are people wanting to move into Sidney from larger cities because of what our town has to offer. We want to be able to offer the amenities that will make the move even more appealing.

* What are some of the issues facing the city, and how do you feel they should be addressed?

Housing: As we are attracting businesses to utilize the downtown buildings or even the old Cabela’s buildings, we need to think about housing.   To be market competitive for businesses to locate in Sidney, we need to be able to offer housing that will support their labor force.   That is an area that we as a community must come together and focus on. 

Sidney has the resources to grow.   There is space that is surveyed and plotted for housing developments.   We have infrastructure with two major railroads, highway systems, the interstate and an airport.   We are an hour and half from Cheyenne, two hours from Denver, an hour and half from North Platte.  Along with the transportation network we have technology, business buildings available and a knowledgeable workforce.    

We are in a unique position to market ourselves as an ideal location for people and businesses to grow and prosper.  I’m looking forward to helping the City achieve these goals.

Mindy Wiegand:

Name as it appears on ballot:

Mindy Wiegand

Office you are seeking:

Clerk of the District Court

What is your motivation for seeking this office?

I was hired as the Deputy Clerk of the District Court in 2018. My opponent in this election, Debra Hume, hired me to succeed her as she planned to retire from office, and together we planned for my run in the 2022 election. I have been learning and preparing every day for over three years to be your next Clerk of the District Court. I believe in hard work and a job well done. I believe in integrity and accountability. I have been working my entire professional career in roles that are accountable to the people we serve. I previously worked for almost fifteen years for Crossroads Cooperative, which is a patron-owned grain cooperative here in the Panhandle. Working for a patron-owned company gave me an invaluable understanding of how to best serve people, and I brought that passion with me to my new career. We are public servants, and I don’t take that responsibility lightly. The saying “do what you love, and you’ll never work another day in your life” is how I feel every day I come to work.

What skills or assets do you bring?

· Leadership:  I have been the office manager from the day I was sworn in as Deputy Clerk. The day to day functioning of the office has generally been under my watch and direction. Any change in administrative office procedure or procedure training has been decided on or performed by me. I strive to be a leader who pulls their weight and is one of the team; there is no task I would expect to be done that I don’t do myself. I do my very best to create an environment for those I supervise to feel rewarded and valued in. A cohesive team that feels valued will go above and beyond for both the office and those doing business with the office.

· Experience:

o   The Clerk of the District Court is responsible for the administrative and financial functions of the court. I thoroughly understand our role in the court system, and regularly train and assist our staff, as well as staff from other counties when they call and have questions. I developed our office’s procedural checklists and manuals, and they are the primary reference guide to use when needed. I have maintained all required training and certificates necessary to my role. My prior experience as a grain accountant provided solid financial acumen that I will utilize for the financial responsibilities of the Clerk.

o   When the COVID pandemic hit, solutions were needed for continuation of access to the courts. Due to my knowledge and expertise, I was a key part of the multi-department team that implemented new courtroom technology enhancements in 2020, resulting in limited disruption for litigants. These upgrades saved our county departments valuable tax-payer money. I was honored to receive the following acknowledgment: “Not only one of the key people involved in leading the way to virtual court in Cheyenne County and across the State of Nebraska, but also responsible for co-instructing all District and County Court Employees, Prosecutors, and Defense Attorneys on properly setting up and using the technology. Mindy continues to provide daily tech support to ensure our courts are as effective and efficient as possible. This has been an enormous accomplishment and has made our courts more accessible than ever before.” Outside of our court, I have also assisted and trained other Cheyenne County departments, as well as County Offices and Officials from other Nebraska counties. Many of these occasions have saved the County from needing to pay an outside IT contractor, ultimately saving more tax-payer money. 

o   As public servants, we have a high responsibility to the people. The Clerk of District Court staff are limited by state statute on how much we can assist. We, for example, cannot give legal advice as we are not licensed attorneys. That can be frustrating for someone who is not familiar with the court and its processes. In 2021, 91% of our cases included self-represented litigants - those who represent themselves in court, in lieu of an attorney. I have seen areas we can be doing more for these individuals (detailed later in this questionnaire). I have dedicated significant amounts of my personal time to self-education, learning how this office can better serve and assist self-represented litigants. I have over eighteen years of experience in serving people, and I hold myself accountable to ensuring every person that comes to this office for assistance is helped to the very best of our ability, and with the respect, efficiency, compassion, and professionalism they deserve.

·       Performance: In my time as Deputy Clerk, I have consistently received ‘Exceptional’ ratings in my performance reviews, with comments from the incumbent such as “Amazing skills”; “Given a task or challenge, Mindy will meet and exceed expectation”; and “definitely has the ability to complete work assigned”. After one year working as Deputy, I received the comment “In my opinion, she could have taught the class” in reference to required Criminal, Civil, and Financial training. I am a go-to point of contact for assistance within the County Courthouse and surrounding counties. Outside of the office, I regularly receive acknowledgements and appreciation for my assistance with anything I am involved in.  I don’t believe in only doing the job as it is defined - I believe a job well done is helping in any way I can, no matter the task. I feel confident in saying those that know me, personally and professionally, would tell you the same.

Of the office you will be serving if elected, are there specific challenges you foresee?

Today’s world is more technology driven than ever, and modernization is to be expected. Technology can be intimidating and frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be. I want to be the bridge for those that don’t understand technology or don’t have access to it. Whether that be access to a computer and printer or teaching litigants how to virtually connect for a court hearing. I will strive to make the process as seamless as possible, always helping you on an individual basis. In a technology-driven world, you can count on my expertise and dedication to lead the Office through times of inevitable modernization and change.

We have a responsibility to investigate and evaluate current procedures and make improvements where necessary so that our office can be as efficient and effective as possible. I believe in doing our best and implementing practices that achieve our goals, and there are areas we can be doing more. I intend to implement plans and upgrades so that litigants can attain improved access to the court. I also want to improve employee training so that our litigants can have the best experience possible with our staff. That starts with better understanding of our limitations, and how to provide excellent customer service within them.

Share some of your history: How long have you lived in your voting district. Interests, family, education, occupation history.

I have lived in Cheyenne County almost my entire life, having grown up in Dalton and Gurley and graduating from Leyton High School. I’ve made my home in Sidney since then; I am married and have four beautiful children. We attend the Evangelical Free church here in Sidney. As parents, the most important lessons we have to teach our children are to serve God and represent Him in all they do. Previously, I was an active member of the Cheyenne County Safety Committee, where I regularly participated in subcommittees that achieved outstanding goals for the county. I designed all evacuation route maps for county buildings, I founded the SnackSmart employee general store that offers healthy snacks to courthouse employees, and my previous OSHA training made me a valuable member of safety committee walk-throughs that keep our County properties safe. Outside of work, I am on the boards of directors of the local Pheasants Forever chapter as well as Sidney Legion Baseball.  My husband and I actively teach our children about the importance of volunteering time, and the value of putting others and other causes above our own. We rise by lifting others, and there is no greater gift we can give than our time.

Final thoughts:

I have always preferred to let my professional reputation speak for itself, and I encourage the voters to ask questions and truly learn who their candidates are. A vote for the incumbent is not always a vote for the most qualified candidate, and quantity of experience does not outweigh quality of experience. I am open to questions and conversation anytime. Please reach out to me on Facebook at Mindy Wiegand for Clerk of the District Court, or by email at [email protected] The people have always been, and will remain, my priority. I would appreciate your support and your vote at the Primary on May 10! If you find that you won’t have time to get to the polls, contact the County Clerk’s office and request an Early Voting Application and have your ballot sent right to your home!

 

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