Roy Baker, a retired Norris Public Schools Superintendent, says that if voters elect him to the Legislature he will serve as a statesman, not a partisan politician.
“I don’t have an agenda. I don’t breathe partisan fire. I believe issues should be studied. A senator should keep an open mind until all the facts and research are done and the issues are debated,” Baker said.
“We don’t need to have a mini-Washington, D.C., where gridlock is the name of the game. We don’t need that in our unicameral.”
After eight years of a Democrat in the Legislature's District 30 seat, a Republican will plant himself in the chair come January.
Sen. Norm Wallman has run into term limits and both men competing to replace him in the nonpartisan race are registered Republicans.
If elected on Nov. 4, Baker pledges to study the issues and work with people no matter their political affiliation.
He wants to give back to his state and the people who call it home by following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. His dad, William Baker, served on a school board, grain elevator board and as a county commissioner, and his grandfather, D.W. Baker, served three terms as a state senator.
Roy Baker said his experience leading school districts, including creating annual budgets and overseeing expenditures, would serve him well as a senator. He currently works as a consultant to school boards looking for superintendents.
“The work you do as a leader of a school district is out there for everybody to see. So you have to be responsible and responsive and answer to the public you serve just as a state senator would have to do,” he said.
Baker led Norris through rebuilding the district’s school after a tornado ripped through it the day after school got out for the summer in 2004.
“We were able to get everybody to pull together and even though we had more than $35 million in damage to our school campus, we were able to open the school the day after Labor Day,” he said.
Baker, 69, earned bachelor, master's and doctorate degrees in education from the University of Nebraska. He worked 43 years in education, 37 of them as a superintendent, before he retired from Norris in 2010. He also worked as interim superintendent for the Beatrice School District for part of the 2012-13 school year. He was honored as Nebraska Superintendent of the Year in 2005.
Baker and his wife, Paula, have two grown children, Richard and Scott, and two grandchildren.
In terms of campaign contributions, Baker has the clear lead having collected about twice as many dollars as his competitor, Bob Tiemann.
Baker had raised just shy of $39,000 by Sept. 30, according to his Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission filing. Tiemann had just under $19,000.
Baker reported spending more than $26,700.
His biggest individual contributor was Omaha philanthropist Dick Holland, who gave $1,000 during the primary and $500 during the general election. His most generous organizational contributor was the Nebraska State Education Association Political Action Committee, which gave a combined $9,000.
Baker said his priorities include supporting strong public schools, rural economic development and water issues.
During a recent interview, he advocated for early education, naming specific programs that focus on the first five years of life, and said it’s important to help children who have been identified as coming from backgrounds that statistically put them at risk of failing academically. He also emphasized the need for a strong primary and secondary education system.
“The idea is to make sure students go through high school and education beyond high school with a clear focus so they acquire the skills necessary to get a high-paying job, a well-paying job, when they’re finished,” he said.
Baker praised legislative efforts within the past year to address water resource needs within the state. Those efforts included a bill that will award $32 million for projects to help conserve water to sustain stream flows and recharge aquifers.
“Most of this state sits on top of a precious resource, the Ogallala Aquifer. It is important we continue to take care of the aquifer and surface water issues as well,” he said.
He said property taxes in Nebraska are “out of whack,” and legislators need to balance them with income and sales taxes.
District 30 spans Gage County and the southeastern portion of Lancaster County. In addition to the far west and south parts of Lincoln it includes 17 other towns the largest of which is Beatrice. It stretches from Lincoln to the Kansas border.
For more information about Baker, visit roybakerforlegislature.com.