— Trisha Benton
LAUREL — Mark Patefield had been toying privately with the idea of running for the District 40 legislative seat for awhile and had not discussed it with anyone outside of his immediate family.
So it came as a pleasant and affirming surprise when people approached him about the seat after current Sen. Tim Gragert announced in late January he would not be seeking another term.
He officially filed to seek the position last week.
“The feedback has all been very positive,” the Laurel man said. “I really appreciate that. It gives me energy.”
Patefield grew up on a farm north of Laurel, graduating from Laurel-Concord High School in 1997.
He then attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and then went on to Creighton University, for pharmacy school where he met his wife, Christina. Both Patefields are pharmacists, owning the Main Street Apothecary in Laurel and the U-Save Pharmacy in Wayne. They have four children, Holly, 14, Weston, 12, Lauren, 9, and Graham, 6.
Patefield also served two terms as Laurel’s mayor (2012-20) and one term on the Laurel-Concord School Board (2008-12).
Patefield joins three other candidates - Keith Kube of Crofton, Robert Johnton of Clearwater and Barry DeKay of Niobrara - seeking the District 40 seat.
He said his diverse background of growing up on a farm, owning two businesses and also attending school for many years in the metro areas of the state makes him a well-rounded candidate.
“I understand the urban-rural push and pull and I’ll be able to talk to them (colleagues) and understand where they’re coming from. I can explain my side better having seen both sides,” he said. “I also own two businesses and I understand the pressures that come with that, how to make a budget, how to make payroll. There’s not a whole lot of people down in the Legislature that have had to do that.”
He said some of the issues before the state have been laying on his heart heavily for the last six months, especially the sexual education standards proposed by the Nebraska Department of Education.
“That’s very concerning trying to read through those. That’s pretty tough to think that’s what they want to teach our kids,” Patefield said.
Property tax relief is something that also needs to be addressed as well as taking a stand to protect Nebraska’s natural resources.
Patefield said he’s eager to kick off his campaign and highlight his strong conservative voice to represent the views of the District 40 constituency.
“I want to get out and talk to people. You learn a lot more by listening rather than talking,” he said.