Lancaster County has a crowded primary field for its treasurer’s office, with five candidates seeking to advance from next week’s primary to November’s general election.
In a race where felony charges filed against the incumbent treasurer seeking re-election, Republican Andy Stebbing, have become the central campaign issue, two other Republicans and two Democrats are vying for the nomination. Voters have to choose among a very accomplished, experienced field.
After sitting down with all four hopefuls aiming to unseat Stebbing — who himself declined an invitation to meet with the Journal Star editorial board, citing his busy schedule — we see experience as a key component of the best fits for the treasurer’s office. As such, our endorsements for this race go to Allen Simpson (Republican) and Rachel Garver (Democrat).
Simpson laps the Republican field with his experience of managing tax dollars. The retired lieutenant colonel’s 30 years in the Nebraska Air National Guard include a lengthy stint as commander of its award-winning finance office. That line on his resume is simply unmatched by other candidates.
Furthermore, he offers a variety of suggestions to serve Lancaster County residents outside Lincoln by bringing the services of the treasurer’s office to them. Those areas — such as Hickman, Nebraska’s fastest-growing city — continue to see a population boom; addressing the needs of people living outside Lincoln is of vital importance.
The other Republican challenger in this race, Matt Schulte, has good experience, just not as much as Simpson. Schulte’s prided himself as a voice of fiscal responsibility on the Lincoln Public Schools board, an important commitment to taxpayers, that’s often left him as the lone dissenter.
On the Democratic ticket, Rachel Garver’s 24 years of experience as a financial manager in the Office of Student Accounts at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln sets her above political science instructor and attorney Andrew Stock.
This race has focused largely on Stock’s proposal to eliminate credit card convenience fees, with Garver and all Republicans opposed. We applaud his thinking outside the box, but it’s unclear whether it would be cost-effective. Further study is required on this topic.
In his two terms, Stebbing has made several upgrades to serving Lancaster County residents. But the pending charges against him relate to auto sales, directly conflicting with his office’s prescribed duties and damaging the public’s trust in his position. They also led the county Republican Party to withdraw its support.
Fresh blood is needed.
Accordingly, this is a critical election for the office responsible for collecting and processing property and motor-vehicle taxes. Simpson and Garver represent the best candidates for the job and the difficult task of erasing any and all doubt about the integrity of the Lancaster County treasurer.