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Questions for the candidates, 2024

To bring Sidney and Cheyenne County voters pertinent information on the County Commissioner and City Council candidates for the upcoming local primary elections to be held on Tuesday, May 14, 2024, the Sidney Sun-Telegraph reached out to the candidates via email.

To maintain complete neutrality and non-bias, all candidates were emailed the same questionnaire at the same time, giving them the same amount of time in which to respond with their answers.

The questions and their answers appear below exactly as they were received, with no editing done on the part of the Sun-Telegraph other than for spelling.

All questions and answers will appear in numerical order; if some questions do not have answers, none were received.

Some candidates did not respond to the questionnaire, and no reason was provided to the Sun-Telegraph as to why.

The missing candidates are Eric Pool, running for County Commissioner, and Brian Fort and Kimberly Keen, both running for City Council seats.

1. What is your main purpose in running for this position?

2. Have you ever held another office, if so where?

3. What are your qualifications for this position?

4. Do you have any specific goals you are looking to achieve during your term?

5. How do you propose growing local businesses?

6. What do you think about transportation and infrastructure challenges here?

7. How would you get the community more involved in decision-making for the city?

8. There have been some safety concerns and crime issues that seemed to have increased lately-how would you address those issues?

9. What's your stance on the EPIC proposal?

10. What would your priorities be in allocating city financial resources?

11. How will you ensure that citizens are well-informed and feel confident that their voices are heard and represented?

12. Sidney and Cheyenne County has challenges and problems to fix/resolve. You're confident you can fix/resolve these problems, like the time that you fixed/resolved...?

13. How long have you been a resident of Sidney and/or Cheyenne County?

Randy Miller, County Commissioner, Incumbent

1. I would like to continue my dedication and being attentive to Cheyenne County constituents.

2. Before serving as Cheyenne County Commissioner for District 1, I served on the Sidney Public Schools Board of Education. I also served on the Sidney Volunteer Fire Department holding offices of the President, Treasurer, and Rescue Captain.

3. I graduated from Leyton High School and then graduated from the University of Nebraska with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree majoring in Finance.

4. I have set goals not only for myself but also for separate departments such as maintaining roads but also Improving roads with more gravel, better drainage, and armor coating as needed.

5. We will continue to work with businesses offering our support and participating in financing when statutes allow the county to be involved. I am proud to be working with Adams Industries in securing funding for their expansion plans. We included their request in our economic development budget as those funds must be run through a county entity. This increases our overall budget but does not affect levied funds which is connected to the tax-asking portion. This DOES NOT RAISE YOUR TAXES.

6. N/A

7. N/A.

8. We have increased our patrols out in the county. The Sheriff's office continues to work closely with all other law enforcement in the area. I'm seeing a great deal of cooperation with our citizens of the county being more alert and observing suspicious activity followed by reporting it.

9. I believe there are many positive aspects to the EPIC proposal. It's not perfect, but a great place to start in an attempt to fix our property tax situation. It's great to have discussions on other avenues to fund necessary services.

10. N/A

11. I would like to see more people attend meetings. We run timed agendas to accommodate people's busy schedules. However, I speak to several people on the phone daily.

12. We deal with issues like prairie dog infestations, noxious weeds, proper use of facilities, updating equipment, negotiating contracts, and zoning requests. I think all the changes we made during COVID to our courtrooms were a tremendous accomplishment. The staff did a magnificent job bringing in equipment and implementing new procedures. We are saving a tremendous amount of money through our court system and sheriff's office. Just as important is that the safety of everyone involved has increased.

13. I was born in Sidney Nebraska and raised on our family farm.

Brock Buckner, City Council, Incumbent

1. My main purpose for running for a four year term is simple, "I am running for Sidney City Council because I live here, this is my city and I take ownership and responsibility for it. As a homeowner and parent, I want to keep this town a great place to raise a family. I have seen what the loss of a company can do to jobs and housing when that company leaves as a major employer of a community.

I have also seen the same community regain its composure to ensure not one entity has that much oversight in this city's dealings again. New business, organizations, the coming together of ideas and pushing them through so that everyone benefits. I want to continue to help direct that future, to help bring prosperity to those that dare to dream outside the box and make them happy to have elected officials that truly work for this city with an all inclusive vision not just a me mentality or use this position as a stepping stone to something bigger after a short stint. I am here for Sidney and its citizens and being a councilman is the best way I feel I can serve.

I have the experience in finance and community service in my past necessary to continue being an effective town Councilman. I have worked hard making sure your voice has been heard. From concerns on infrastructure to community events, listening to how tax money is spent and how to see results of your vote.

I have been very visible, approachable and transparent in my dealings. I have defended and made sure that all of Sidney is recognized in our quality of life here. The only way to continue doing these things is to work with the men on the council and continue to forge a future of prosperity for Sidney Nebraska.

2. I have not held political office prior to my current position on the city council. I have however chaired many boards in the military and led many committees for the state of Colorado as a correctional professional. This includes being the special teams commander for the largest state facility in Colorado, Being the Drug Czar for Sterling Correctional facility and chairing the CNT and Safe committee. These experiences along with my Military background have more than prepared me to work with others for the greater good of our city.

3. Having held leadership positions and chairing many boards in the military, law enforcement and special teams for the state of Colorado and currently serving on the council have helped me in performing in my current position. I managed a 2 million dollar canteen budget for the largest state prison (SCF) in Colorado preparing me to serve with a fiscal and stewardship mindset.

4. I want to bring balance and growth, identity and self sufficiency to our city so that not one organization holds all the reins ever again. Together as a community we lean on each other for growth and development. Never looking at one pot but all of us working together to keep the coffers full. I want to continue to see more festivals and culture, make a home here and invite tourist revenue sharing our beautiful town and business district with those that pass through our great city.

Justin Christensen, City Council

1. We have citizens struggling everyday to make a living in Sidney, I see it all the time in my profession. I fear that if we continue down the path that we are currently on, more and more people will struggle. More and more people will be forced to move away. My main purpose is to challenge our community leaders, challenge their thought processes, challenge the city as a whole to work to lower taxation, stop spending, build a community where the citizens feel safe and successful!

2. I have been on the board of directors for the Sidney Shooting Park for four years. The last 3 as their elected President.

3. I have successfully raised a family here; I have successfully built a business here. I have been involved in this community my entire life. I have seen Sidney at its best and endured while it fell from grace. I have helped to make the Sidney Shooting Park a premier facility for folks all over the panhandle of Nebraska and Northeast Colorado to come and enjoy. This was achieved by planning, patience, and cooperation. These are the qualities of a great leader!

4. Goal one is to engage with the community to see what is impacting their world. Is it taxes? Is it feeling safe in our community? Are the streets in front of your home so destroyed that they are almost impassable? Meeting with members of our community to hear their concerns will allow me to determine where to focus my efforts if elected. Build a list of priorities and start pushing to them head on until a resolution can be achieved.

5. My priority is local business. We have such an abundance of shops and stores around town that it makes me wonder, why are we trying to bring in other large business to support the needs of our community? I would propose that we consider bids from our local contractors a little differently than just going with the lowest bidder. Yes the city may pay a little more for a project, but that money will likely be spent back in our community again.  

6. Overall, I think our transportation is good, we have buses that can transport our citizens anywhere around town. Our infrastructure could use some work. We have streets around town that are horrible. Based on appearances alone, it's apparent that the Northern side of Sidney has been neglected. Each side of Sidney needs to the same attention and prioritization.

7. I strongly encourage attending or watching the council meetings. However, we all have lives, work hours that do not allow us to make it to the meetings. I think we could be better with our social media and embrace that technology more. I find a lot of success posting live feeds on my business Facebook to help with engagement. It would allow community members to comment and ask questions during the live streams that can be brought to the attention of the council during meetings. I make myself available as it is for community members to ask questions relating to my profession as well as Sidney Shooting Park matters. I would continue to be of that service in a councilman capacity so citizens can ask question and give me feedback on topics that impact them.

8. We need to get our police force back up to full strength. We are a couple officers down and have been for a while now. I think that training at the police academy is a great start to an officer's career, but I do not think that education should stop there. I believe that we should explore more opportunities for officer education that bring them more in line with the pulse of our community and society as a whole. We have a great group of officers that I bet would jump at an opportunity to become more .

9. I like the idea of EPIC, I think paying taxes every year for something you purchased 20 years ago is foolish. My concern is that the 7.5% consumption tax isn't going to be enough. Research shows that based on the loss of income tax and property tax dollars that Nebraska would have to charge more than 20% in consumption tax to make up for those losses. If the tax rate of 7.5% is locked in for a guaranteed amount of time with a review period that could incrementally raise based on the need of our state, then I would be on board with EPIC. I just do not think that there is enough information for me to make a comfortable decision at this time.

10. Our 2.5 % sales tax was implemented to fund projects and infrastructure in our city. Those collected dollars are then split by percentages to fund said projects. I believe that we need to review how those funds are allocated to meet the needs of the community that we live in today and the community we want to be in the future. We need pay off our debt and roll that down to our citizens and business owners to get them some relief, that is priority number one.

11. Again, we need to embrace technology. Something as simple as a survey sent to community members by our city via an email campaign about local projects or council agenda items would greatly inform everyone. It would also give them a voice if they were unable to make it. City government would be able to converse with our citizens in that manner as well to acknowledge that they have been heard.

12. I think of the city as a business, and the community are the customers. Making money while keeping your customers happy is key. With my business and being on the Sidney Shooting Park board, I have developed business plans for goals and projects. These allow you to point yourself into a direction of prosperity. You will have challenges along the way, not every decision that is made will be greeted with open arms from the community. This may result in making adjustments to your business plan, but the end goals still needs to remain the same. In the case of the city, helping our citizens the best we can by not taxing them into the poor house,  keep our police station staffed with great officers and educated on modern policing trends. Most of all be willing to hear the bad! The successes we will have will be great to see. However, hearing the bad and working to remedy that is where we will make our most progress.  

13. I have been a proud resident of Sidney my entire life!


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