Ballot recount for NRD race

Posted: Wednesday, November 5, 2014 9:59 am

By MARY PAT HOAG The Norfolk Daily News

Only one vote separates the candidates in one of the six contested races in the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District, meaning a recount will be conducted.

In Tuesday’s general election in Subdistrict 1, two area farmers vied for the seat held by Bill Meyer of Pierce, who retired from the board after 40 years of service.

Chad Korth, who farms south of Meadow Grove, garnered 1,728 votes with 1,727 votes accumulated by his challenger Aaron Zimmerman. He farms in southwest Pierce County.

The Lower Elkhorn NRD covers all or parts of 15 Northeast Nebraska counties.

Joel Hansen of rural Wayne, the incumbent in the at-large race, was elected to his third four-year term. The current board chairman earned 11,109 votes compared to 8,303 votes for his challenger, James Wapelhorst of Norfolk.

It was the first run for political office for Wapelhorst, who is a financial adviser and director of field operations for Northwestern Mutual.

Hansen, street superintendent and building inspector for the City of Wayne, said it is “very humbling to think that that many people” voted for me. “It means a lot that they put that trust in me,” he said.

The stance on natural resources issues has changed in recent years, Hansen said.

“When I first got on the board, there was a hesitancy to talk even about water meters,” he said. Then, with the drought of 2012, it became more apparent that there had to be a more proactive approach to groundwater management, he said.   

A group of stakeholders, Hansen said, is currently working on a voluntary integrated management plan. As a continuing board member, he said, “I want to see that through and see how we’re going to share that resource and perhaps find new sources of water.”

In Subdistrict 5, David Shelton of Wayne was elected to a two-year term. Shelton was appointed to the board about a year ago to fill a vacancy.  

His challenger was Jim Lutter of Carroll. Shelton won 1,809 votes compared to 1,081 votes for Lutter.

Shelton has been based at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Haskell Agricultural Laboratory east of Concord as an Extension agricultural engineer since 1978.

Shelton said his career, which has focused primarily on soil and water quality, provides valuable background in his NRD post.

Looking ahead to his board service, he said, “The critical issues will be water, water, water; no question about it. Water is the most critical issue we have (worldwide), even more so than energy. Water will be the key focus of many of the (LENRD) board discussions.”   

A four-year term in Subdistrict 5 also was decided on Tuesday. Incumbent Garry Anderson of Dixon lost in his bid against Wayne producer Kurt Janke. The count was 1,867 for Janke and 1,208 for Anderson.

Anderson, who farms and is a rural mail carrier, has served on the Lower Elkhorn NRD board since 1991.

In Subdistrict 2, Norfolk farmer Luke Winkelbauer of Norfolk was elected with 2,306 votes. His opponent, incumbent Ken Peitzmeier of Norfolk, died less than a month ago with his name remaining on the ballot. There were 806 votes cast for Peitzmeier.

Rod Zessin, a Madison farmer, chose not to run again for the Subdistrict 4 seat. The challengers for the position were Alan Demmel of Madison and Cory Beller of Norfolk.

Beller, owner of Beller Custom Applications, a fertilizer business, topped the race with 1,535 votes. Demmel, a farmer and retiree from Tyson Foods in Madison, had 1,248 votes.

The winner in Subdistrict 6 was incumbent Dennis Schultz of Wisner, who has served the past four years on the NRD board. He is a grain and livestock farmer and insurance agent.  

Challenger Donald Frank of Stanton, whose employment includes serving as a grain consultant for an ethanol company, gained 743 votes. Frank, who is a Stanton County planning commissioner, also made an unsuccessful bid for the Northeast Community College board of governors on Tuesday.

Incumbent Roger Gustafson of Emerson was re-elected to the Subdistrict 7 position in an uncontested race.

 Marion Shafer of Norfolk, the incumbent in the uncontested Subdistrict 3 race, died on Oct. 26. The board will make an appointment for that seat.

In the Lewis & Clark NRD election, incumbents retained their seats in the two contested races.

The vote tallies were: Subdistrict 1 — Jeff Steffen of Crofton, 712; Janita Kube of Crofton, 251; Subdistrict 3 — William Christensen of Hartington, 643; Scott Heine of Hartington, 217.

In the Subdistrict 4 race in the Upper Elkhorn NRD election, incumbent Jerry Childers of Chambers lost in his re-election bid: 2,246 votes to the 2,317 votes for his challenger,  Chip Whitaker of Chambers.

Incumbent Christopher Dierks of Elgin will serve another four-year term as the at-large representative. His opponent, Paul Bartak of Clearwater, had 1,997 votes while Dierks had 2,643 votes.

In the Subdistrict 7 race, the incumbent did not refile. Michael Moser takes the seat  with 2,355 votes. A total of 1,911 votes were cast for challenger Keith Heithoff. Both are of Elgin.