ASHLAND – As of Monday, two candidates have filed for election to the Nebraska Legislature in District 23.
Incumbent Bruce Bostelman of Brainard announced last September that he is seeking re-election. On Monday, Helen Raikes of Ashland put her name on the ballot for the Primary Election.
Bostleman is seeking his second term in office.
“Over the past three years, I have been fighting for you in the Legislature,” said Bostelman. “From Second Amendment issues to helping protect unborn life, I have been putting my conservative principles to work. It would be an honor to continue to serve District 23. In my second term, I will continue to fight for meaningful property tax relief and to bring consistent conservative leadership to the Nebraska Unicameral.”
Raikes offers a three-part focus on property tax relief and agriculture, quality education and thriving rural community initiatives.
“I am the independent voice for property tax relief and opportunities for agriculture and small business. I am involved in farming, small business and education. I believe I am the right voice for rural communities and that I can be effective in making the changes we need in the legislature," said Raikes, who is registered Independent.
After conducting 12 “listening sessions” with over 100 district citizens in attendance in Ashland, Ceresco, Wahoo, Rising City, David City, Brainard and Schuyler, Raikes decided that the time was right to run for this seat.
“The issues I heard from my listening sessions are well-aligned with the needs of the 23rd District, and I’m ready to make a real difference for my neighbors,” said the challenger.
Raikes is also well-rooted in agriculture. The Raikes family has been farming in Saunders County for over 100 years and operates Raikes Beef in downtown Ashland. She has stayed close to agriculture and continues involvement in Raikes Family Enterprises to this day. She grew up and contributed to her own parents’ farm in rural Iowa, walked beans, detasseled, helped with haying, showed baby beef at her county fair and was an Iowa State 4-H officer.
"The current property tax situation in Nebraska's leading industry – agriculture – is unconscionable. It’s time for the Legislature to step up and fix this structural inequity," she said.
Bostelman also has deep roots in agriculture and is a graduate of the University of Nebraska's LEAD XXVII class. He has been active in helping others in their small business ventures as an Advisory Board Member to the UNL Nebraska Cooperative Development Center, board member of the Nebraska Woody Florals Nonstock Cooperative, Heartland Nuts ‘N More and the Nebraska Winery and Grape Growers Association.
The Bostelmans live on their family farm near Brainard. Bostelman has been active in serving his country and community. He enlisted in the United States Air Force after high school in 1980 and retired from the military in 2000. In 2002, he received his bachelor's degree in business management from Bellevue University. He has since partnered in research with the University of Nebraska in several areas of agriculture.
Bostleman notes the conservative voting record he built during his first term in office, where he worked to increase the Property Tax Credit Relief Fund by 23 percent for $275 million in relief annually and voted to deliver meaningful property tax relief for ag producers. He also championed efforts to end taxpayer funding of abortion in Nebraska, and voted to help pass three other pro-life bills, including the Compassion and Care for Medically Challenging Pregnancies Act.
The incumbent also led efforts to pass the only pro-Second Amendment bill in the Legislature in the last three years, worked with the American Legion and VFW to pass multiple pro-veteran and pro-military bills, voted to stop a new attempt to repeal the death penalty this year and supported measures to strengthen state laws against human trafficking.
In the Legislature, Bostelman serves as vice chairman on the Natural Resources Committee and serves on the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee. He is also a member of State of Nebraska Broadband Task Force that is working to connect schools, libraries and communities.
Raikes said she understands the needs of rural communities. In 2018, she was the keynote speaker at the Nebraska Thriving Communities Conference held in Kearney, and is a leader on how Nebraska can help children, caregivers and communities to not just survive but thrive. Focus on thriving rural communities also includes renewed attention on roads, broadband, affordable housing, healthcare and stimulus for small businesses and farms. Raikes would propose legislation to seed these efforts in rural communities.
Raikes is a retiring professor of early childhood education at the University of Nebraska. She, together with her husband, the late Sen. Ron Raikes, who was a member of the Nebraska Unicameral from 1998 to 2008 and chair of the Education Committee, set into motion several of Nebraska’s early childhood programs.
Raikes is a longtime advocate for quality and equitable education. She attended a consolidated school in a small rural community and Iowa State University.
“I will protect schools in rural communities and will stand up for equitable and workable statutes to ensure quality education. I will also be an advocate for early childhood education and career education,” she said. “Helping our students pursue higher education or find good paying jobs with benefits in the trades right out of high school is essential to keeping our communities thriving.”
District 23 includes Butler and Saunders counties as well as most of Colfax County. The Primary Election will be held May 12.