YUTAN – Three challengers look to unseat a longtime member of the Saunders County Board of Supervisors in District 2.
Incumbent Doris Karloff faces challengers John Zaugg, J.C. Long and Chris Kems in the Primary Election on May 12. All of the candidates are from the Yutan area.
Because no candidate from another party has filed, the winner of the Primary Election on May 12 will run unopposed in the November General Election.
Karloff is a longtime resident of rural Yutan and has served the public as a member of the Yutan Board of Education as well as the county board, of which she has been chairperson for several years.
After high school, Karloff attended business school and was the manager of an insurance office in Omaha. She serves as chair of the Nebraska Intergovernmental Risk Management Association (NIRMA) and has been appointed to several state committees, including the Jail Standards Committee, Medicaid Committee, Pandemic Health Committee and Leaky Underground Storage Tanks Committee.
She is a past chair and sits on the executive committee of Region V Services and Systems, a 16-county board working with developmental, disability and substance abuse issues.
“I am running for county board to assure the services we offer continue,” said Karloff. “As chair of the county board it is my responsibility as a member to make sure all issues are covered, that we are transparent to the public, and available any time.”
Zaugg also brings decades of public service to the table, but not as an elected official. He has worked for the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District for 37 years. He is a state-licensed natural resources ground water technician.
Zaugg is a native of Yutan and has lived and worked on his family’s third-generation farm all of his life. He has an associates degree in land surveying/civil engineering technology and a bachelors degree in management.
“I have always wanted to run for public office and now that my children are grown, I will have time to focus on new challenges and local issues. I am a lifelong resident of Saunders County and my entire life has been involved in agriculture,” he said.
Long has been a resident of Yutan for 18 years and of the county for 28 years. He is a self-employed contractor.
Long served on the Yutan City Council for 11-plus years and was elected president of the council.
“I enjoyed representing Yutan and their needs while serving on the Yutan City Council. I’ve decided that I would like to serve all of Saunders County and its residents,” he said. “I took pride in the Yutan city budget trying to be fiscally responsible for the tax payers and still trying to get projects done that the residents asked for.”
Kems moved to an acreage year Yutan in 1997. He has been a plumber all of his adult life, and opened his own business in 2002.
Kems is a volunteer emergency medical technician, firefighter and dive team responder with the Yutan Fire Department and Wahoo Fire and EMS departments. He was elected to the Marble Township board from 2011 to 2015, where he served as treasurer.
“I am seeking election to the Board of Supervisors to offer my knowledge and experiences to the County to help Saunders County grow into the future,” said Kems.
Karloff said recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the expenses relating to the crisis are the most pressing issue facing Saunders County at this time.
“Right now with COVID-19 we are seeing expenditures no one could have planned for,” she said. “Yet, business must go on. So budgets will be one of our most important issues.”
Negotiating the county’s union contracts for employees in law enforcement, the courthouse and the janitorial department are also facing the supervisors, according to Karloff. The county board has prioritized the roads and bridges that need attention, she added, and they are still dealing with issues from the 2019 flood.
“I want to continue to serve to make sure the services we offer are available to all,” she added. “I have the experience, dedication, commitment and leadership ability to offer.”
Zaugg said the issues facing the county include long-range planning and zoning, improved infrastructure focusing on bridges and gravel roads and a need for increased engineering and environmental oversight on new housing developments.
Long-range planning and zoning will help the county deal with growing pains associated with the proximity to Lincoln and Omaha, Zaugg said, as well as an increase in poultry confinement operations. He is also concerned about abandoned or unsafe bridges in the county and
advocates updated specifications on grading gravel roads.
Zaugg said he will use his experience working with the Papio NRD to deal with housing developments in the county to solve issues with wetland permits and soil erosion and sediment control.
“To solve this issue, I would work with the county engineer and any outside engineering firm to ensure that all federal and state regulations are being met,” Zaugg said. “Open and transparent public meetings should be held, to address any public concerns.”
Long said his experience working on the Yutan city budget will help him understand and manage the county’s budget.
“Saunders County, like most taxing entities, has to supply a range of services within a budget. One that does not have a lot of room for movement. I would like to work with the department heads, and the other supervisors to prioritize the needs of Saunders County. As well as work on issues that get brought up by department heads, supervisors and residents,” he said.
Kems would like to see the radio system upgraded for law enforcement, fire and emergency medical service departments in the county. His other focus would be on the condition of bridges in the county.
Solving issues within the county takes a team approach, according to Long.
“I think it takes a strong working relationship with the department heads in order to solve any issues brought up to them or to the supervisors,” he said.
Karloff said a supervisor has to be involved in the county, outside of just attending weekly meetings.
“It’s much more involvement to be providing good service whether to our Youth Services or seniors with dollars for senior meals. Service is what we provide for our county citizens,” she said.