Tuesday evening's candidate forum was attended by all the contested race candidates for the upcoming primary election. From left,  District 1 County Commissioner candidates were David Westerhold, Damon Henschke and Terry Sievers. Brandon Hall and Tammy Paustian are both candidates for the Wayne County Treasurer position. At the second table, the candidates for Wayne County Attorney Amy Miller and Michael Pieper were both present. The four mayoral candidates - Jennifer Sievers, Pat Melena, Cale Giese and DouDistrict 17 Senator Joni Albrecht made a surprise visit to the forum to listen to the candidates on Tuesday. She spoke briefly to thank the public for coming out and to stress the importance of voting.

Contested race candidates introduce themselves, answer questions from public at recent forum

Tuesday evening was a busy one for many who opted to sit in on the candidate forum hosted by the Government Affairs Committee of Wayne Area Economic Development and Wayne County Farm Bureau.

Moderated by Bill Dickey and timed by Chele Misenbach, the forum consisted of five minute introduction periods and two minutes to answer each question.

The forum was held for the contested races on the Primary Election ballot to give citizens the opportunity to become more familiar with the local candidates prior to voting on May 15. 

Starting with the mayoral candidates, a random order was generated. Cale Giese started off the forum with his introduction.

During those five minutes, Giese discussed his ties to Wayne dating back over a hundred years. Giese is a fifth generation farmer working for the family businesses. He owns Godfather's in Wayne and also has served for two terms on the Wayne City Countil.

His key points included the future of Wayne's infrastructure, future of Wayne's community and the future of Wayne's businesses. How to maintain and prepare for upcoming costs associated with growth and how to capitalize on WSC students were also part of his introduction.

Following Giese, mayoral candidate Doug Sturm discussed his business background in Wayne.

Sturm opened his barber shop in Wayne 38 years ago and served for 20 years on the Wayne City Council. 

He discussed some of the major projects the City accomplished during his tenure on council, which included the construction of the fire hall, activity center and waste water treatment plant. 

Sturm was proud to say that the mill levy during his time on council dropped from 0.69 cents per $1.00 to $0.45 per $1.00 and how he wants to hold official office hours if he would be elected. 

Mayoral candidate Pat Melena followed Sturm. Melena spoke briefly on his graduating high school and college here in town before discussing what he thinks makes Wayne special, which included the schools and amenities.

He has spent several years on the Planning and Zoning committee, of which he is now chairman. 

His concerns included attracting and retaining young families and providing affordable housing to them and the workforce. 

Wrapping up the candidates for mayor was Jennifer Sievers. 

Sievers, a full time employee at Sand Creek Post & Beam, currently serves as a council member for Ward 2.

Her key points included getting involved rather than just talking about getting involved. She felt that there should be more marketing happening for Wayne as a city in general to help attract more businesses.

She also discussed retaining current businesses and that she is passionate about Wayne as a community. 

Following the mayoral candidates came the candidates for the County Commissioner District 1 seat. 

First to speak was candidate Damon Henschke who has been farming on his own in Wayne County since 1981.

He said that because of the time in which he began farming, it's led him to be fiscally conservative. 

He said he would like to bring more communication between the communities in Wayne County and the commissioners.

Terry Sievers followed Henschke in discussing his goals as county commissioner.

Currently Sievers is the foreman for the District 1 roads crew and has been employed by the county for the last 18 years.

He said his goal is to further the relationships he has in the community,

Rounding out the commissioner candidates was David Westerhold, a life long resident of Wayne County.

According to Westerhold, his location in the far reaches of the county gives him an advantage roads-wise as he is forced to traverse those gravel roads daily.

He spoke on his experience handling money as the treasurer for his church over the past 12 years and having a business degree. 

The next two to speak were the candidates for Wayne County Attorney. 

First up was Amy Miller, who is the City of Wayne Attorney currently and former Deputy County Attorney for Wayne of 10 years.

She serves currently the Pierce County Deputy Attorney. She also maintains her own family practice, something she said she would no longer do if she were voted in.

Her main points of discussion included her availability and dedication to the job and her qualifications, including having argued a case before the Nebraska Supreme Court.

Mike Pieper followed Miller as a candidate for Wayne County Attorney. Pieper currently serves as the county attorney and has done so for the past 26 years. 

He discussed how he put himself through school by working at a packing house and how that teaches you to earn your pay.

He described himself as conservative and discussed his part in overlooking the county budget each year, bringing the STOP and Diversion programs to Wayne County and overseeing numerous Deputy County Attorneys. 

The final two candidates to speak were those running for Wayne County Treasurer.

Brandon Hall started, discussing his degree in business administration and management. He also highlighted his time working through college at Menards to the manager training program and eventually bringing in $6 million in sales during his five years leading the department. 

He said he is looking to invest in newer technology to help work in the office become more efficiently and discussed his 15-plus years in customer service.

Tammy Paustian was the final candidate to do introductions at the forum. 

Paustian discussed how she has been employed in Wayne County for more than 35 years, the last 16 of which have been spent employed by the county in the Treasurers office. 

Her main points included discussing the regulations and rules the office is required to follow, stating that it takes years to become familiar with them all. She brought up deadlines that have to be met and how the biggest part of the job is the customer service and dedication to doing the job right. 

Each group of candidates received one question to answer while the mayoral candidates answered two. Candidates were given two minutes to answer. 

Voters are encouraged to head to the polls May 15.

The Wayne Herald

Mailing Address:
114 Main Street
Wayne, NE 68787
Phone: 402-375-2600

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