By Russ Pankonin
The Imperial Republican
Nebraskans will join fellow voters throughout the nation when they go to the polls for the mid-term General Election Tuesday, Nov. 4.
Nebraska’s high profile races center on the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Mike Johanns and the governor’s seat, open due to a term-limited Gov. Dave Heineman.
In addition, Nebraskans will vote on whether to increase the minimum wage in the state from $7.25 to $8 on Jan. 1, 2015, and to $9 on Jan. 1, 2016.
In the 44th Legislative District, voters will elect a new senator to replace termed-out Sen. Mark Christensen of Imperial.
State, county races
In the U.S. Senate race, four candidates appear on the ballot: Republican Ben Sasse, Democrat David Domina and Independents Jim Jenkins and Todd Watson.
Jenkins and Watson each got on the ballot by petition.
In the race to become the next governor, Republicans Pete Ricketts and running mate Mike Foley square off against Democrats Chuck Hassebrook and running mate Jane Raybould.
Libertarian candidates Mark Elworth, Jr., and running mate Scott Zimmerman also appear on the gubernatorial ballot.
Congressional representatives will be elected in all three of Nebraska’s districts. In the Third District, incumbent Republican Adrian Smith is being challenged by Democrat Mark Sullivan.
Other state offices up for election include secretary of state, treasurer, attorney general and auditor.
In the 44th District, voters will choose between Dan Hughes of Venango and Steve Stroup of Benkelman as their next state senator in the non-partisan Nebraska Legislature.
Other nonpartisan state races Chase County voters will vote on include the State Board of Education—District 7 and retention votes on eight different judges. The candidate for the Mid-Plains Community College board of governors is unopposed.
On the county level, all candidates are unopposed in the General Election for the offices of assessor, county attorney, clerk, sheriff and District 2 and 3 commissioner seats.
Candidates for Upper Republican Natural Resources District Board, Imperial Public Power Board, Southwest Public Power Board and Education Service Units #15 and #16 are also unopposed.
School, city, village races
In the race for the Chase County Schools board, five candidates are vying for four seats.
The candidates include incumbents Dan Reeves, Jeff Olsen and Penny Strand and challengers Russ DaMoude and Steve Wallin.
Three candidates fill the three spots open on the Wauneta-Palisade and Perkins County school boards.
Wauneta-Palisade candidates include incumbents Allison Sandman, Bill Bischoff and Laurie Maris.
Perkins County candidates include Ryan Hendricks, Amy Kroeker and Scott Osler.
In the city of Imperial, there are contested races for mayor and city council and a bond election for a new fire hall.
Incumbent Mayor Dwight Coleman is being challenged by Ray Wolgamott.
City council incumbent Chad Yaw and challengers Charlesa Kline and Spencer Rowley are seeking the two open seats.
Candidates for the Imperial airport authority are running unopposed.
Imperial city voters will decide whether or not to approve a bond of up to $1.35 million for the construction of a new fire hall on Broadway, north of the library.
The rural fire board has committed up to $500,000 as their cost share of the project.
Candidates for village boards in Wauneta and Lamar are unopposed.
Wauneta candidates include incumbents Beau Kramer, Page Johnston and Tony Cribelli. Kurt Schueler is the lone candidate for the Lamar board.
Initiative petition process
This year’s state vote on raising the state minimum wage was placed on the ballot by initiative petition.
According to the secretary of state’s office, proponents were required to certify voters’ signatures equal to 7 percent of the state’s registered voters as of July 4. That equated to 80,835 certified signatures.
The law also requires that signatures be gathered from at least 35 counties, with a number equal to 5 percent of each county’s registered voters.
Proponents turned in nearly 130,000 signatures from across the state by the July 4 deadline. Of those, the secretary of state’s office certified 89,817, well above the minimum required. In addition, they certified 53 counties where the 5 percent threshold was met.
Secretary of State John Gale hopes for a 50 percent voter turnout in Nebraska on Tuesday.
In the last non-presidential election in 2010, the turnout was 43 percent.
However, Gale said voter registration in the state is up by 8,000 people. In addition, early voting has been robust, he said, and there are contested races for U.S. senate and governor.
Registered voters in Nebraska for the General Election total 1,159,085. Of those, 559,494 are Republicans, 357,899 are Democrats, 235,984 are nonpartisan and 5,708 are registered as Libertarians.
Polls open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The polls in Chase Countywill be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Voters wishing to cast early ballots can do so at the county clerk’s office through Monday, Nov. 3.
Polling locations include the Champion Community Center for the Champion and Lamar precincts; the Lied Imperial Public Library for the Imperial West precinct; the Imperial Community Center for the Imperial East precinct; the Imperial United Methodist Church for the Imperial Rural precinct; and the Wauneta Senior Center for the Wauneta precinct.
An ad from the Chase County Clerk outlining the boundaries for the respective precincts appears this week on page B4. Sample ballots are on page B5.