On Friday, January 5, 2023, Sidney City Councilman and Deputy Mayor Paul Strommen filed paperwork with the Nebraska Secretary of State to be a candidate for Nebraska Legislative District 47. District 47 includes Arthur, Box Butte, Cheyenne, Deuel, Garden, Grant, Keith, Morrill, and Sioux counties. The seat is currently held by Senator Steve Erdman of Bayard, who cannot seek re-election due to term limits.
Strommen is a graduate of the University of Colorado, and has lived in the region since 2006. He works for Mid America Bio Energy and Commodities, a fifty million gallon ethanol plant located in Perkins County, and is also owner of Hometown Liquors on Illinois Street in Sidney. In 2013, he and his wife, Kendra, moved to Sidney. He is currently a member of the Sidney City Council, serving as Vice-Mayor, being elected in 2022.
"When I was elected to the City Council, I had every intention of serving out my full term, but with current State Senator Steve Erdman not being able to run again because of term limits, I believe that this is an opportunity for me to serve all of the citizens of the 47th District," said Strommen.
In Strommen's press release announcing his candidacy for State Senate, he said, "My top issues are cutting property taxes, defending agriculture, protecting the unborn, safeguarding the 2nd Amendment, growing the rural economy, supporting our schools and limiting state government so it works for us and not the other way around (and) I will work every day of this campaign to meet as many voters as possible across the nine counties that make up District 47. I will listen, learn, and humbly ask for people's prayers and their vote."
Strommen says that property taxes are a major concern for the people of the 47th District, and he will be focused on lowering the burden residents bear, and is open to all ideas on how to fix the tax system. In his press release, Strommen said, "Here's where I stand: Property taxes strangle the family farm and small business and must be lower – all ideas need to be considered. Agriculture is Nebraska's number one industry and I will always put farmers and ranchers first including defending water rights. Access to health care, investment in roads, and workforce solutions that address child care and housing are important issues for our rural communities. I support parental rights and public, private and home school options for children's education. Government is more often the problem and not the solution, and when government is involved there must be transparency and accountability."
Strommen's campaign is just starting, and he plans on moving forward and meeting with voters as soon as possible. "We've been speaking with a lot of people, but I want to be clear that this campaign is not about us, it's about working as hard as possible to help the people of the 47th district. My promise is to work tirelessly and get results for Western Nebraska."
Additionally, Larry Bollinger, 2022 Attorney General Candidate, has filed paperwork with the Nebraska Secretary of State to be a candidate for Legislative District 47 on the Democratic ticket. Bollinger, a native and resident of Alliance, is a veteran, and University of Nebraska graduate with a major in Political Science and minor in Criminology. Bollinger has run for office previously on the "Legal Marijuana Now" Party line and the Republican line, but considers himself a "moderate" and, according to his press announcement, he "does not discriminate based on party affiliation."
For his candidacy in 2024, Bollinger says areas he will be focusing on include improving wages for teachers and law enforcement. He plans to address policies that have diverted public school funds to be used elsewhere, which has resulted in lower wages for school teachers. He would also work on programs to ensure children do not go hungry, by ensuring there are breakfast and lunch programs at schools, as well as summer meal plans.
He also would work on a program to decrease greenhouse gases, improve energy efficiency and put more money into each district while reducing gas and electric rates. He would also work on programs to help decrease drug addiction. He would support the Detox Center that is being proposed in the District 47 area. He would add to each city's diversion programs which he says will decrease drug-related criminal recidivism rates. He would also support the building of a new police facility in Alliance to help policing efforts and training programs for the region. Bollinger says that addition of these programs would reduce recidivism and crime rates dramatically.
Bollinger lists as political accomplishments his advancement of policies that helped increase housing and helped businesses diversify incomes in downtown Alliance, and helped create the State Meat packing policy that helped drive down the price of meat across the state that helped ranchers and consumers get better prices. He developed a Community Bike Share program and helped reduce crime by 30% by tackling corruption in government. He also noted that received the highest ever number of votes in Nebraska as a third-party candidate when he ran for Attorney General.
As the campaign progresses, the Sun-Telegraph will provide more information on candidates, their policy positions and stances and where rallies and speaking events will be held.