HARTINGTON — A passion for helping others, and a schedule with too much free time in it, prompted an area man to throw his hat into the ring for the District 40 Legislative seat.
The seat is being vacated by Tyson Larson, who is term-limited and unable to seek another term in office.
Tim Gragert, Creighton, recently retired from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
He also ended his 40-year military career after serving from 1977-2017 in the U.S. Air Force, Nebraska Air, and Army National Guard. His military service included four tours to the Middle East.
All that free time is now going to good use as Gragert was in Hartington Monday, knocking on doors and talking with area residents. He also addressed the Hartington City Council to get their ideas and concerns.
Gragert, 59, said this is the same formula he used to come out of the crowded May Primary Election as one of the top two vote-getters.
“We knocked on doors all over the District in the Primary, and that seemed to work pretty well,” he said. “We’ve been out on the campaign trail six or seven days a week and putting in some 12 and 13-hour days for the upcoming election.”
Gragert, who currently serves on the Creighton School Board, faces Keith Kube, Crofton, for a four-year term representing Cedar, Knox, Dixon, Boyd, Holt, and Rock counties in the Legislature.
Gragert said his military, and agriculture background, as well as his time on the Creighton School Board, should position him well for the Legislature.
He would like to work to see a reduction in property taxes. He would also like to try and find a way the state and federal government can work more with local governments.
“I’d like to see the veterans be able to use more of the healthcare services around here, (rather than having to go to Omaha or Sioux Falls). I’d like to be able to see the vets be able to use nursing homes locally instead of having to go all the way out to Hastings or some other place,” he said.
Gragert said he can’t make promises about what he will or won’t support, but he can promise one thing.
“I won’t be the senator that goes to Lincoln and then just stays down there,” he said. “I will be in the District and I will be accessible to people in the 40th District.”
Current District 40 Sen. Tyson Larson has been criticized for not spending any time here. Larson graduated from Weeping Water High School in southeast Nebraska, then lived on property his grandparents owned near O’Neill. He since has rented a room in Bloomfield.
Gragert said rural Nebraska offers a great lifestyle — a lifestyle he wishes more people would understand.
One way to attract more residents to rural Nebraska, he said, is to make sure infrastructure, such as good roads and high-speed internet, are readily available.
Gragert said water quality is also a big issue for him.
“I am very passionate about our water quality,” he said. “Water is one of our most valuable resources. I could see wars being fought over water in the future.”