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Retired BNSF worker, mediator eyes Lancaster County board seat held by Wiltgen

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Retired railroad worker Rick Vest announced Wednesday he will run for the District 5 seat of the Lancaster County Board of Commissioners.

Vest says he hopes “to bring responsible leadership to our local government.”

“After a lifetime of residing in Nebraskan communities and working in both factory and office jobs, I understand the values that make our county a great place to live and raise a family,” Vest said in a news release.

“Our community’s values of responsibility, compromise, and common sense will guide me as I serve as county commissioner.”

Vest is running for the Democratic nomination for District 5, which includes northeast Lincoln, Waverly and northeast Lancaster County.

Current commissioner Todd Wiltgen is running for the Republican nomination in that district.

The five-member county board oversees some county services — including the jail — and makes final budget decisions for all county agencies. 

Vest retired from BNSF Railway in 2015, where he worked in both union and management positions, as a carman and in the general claims department.

Vest says he also has a commitment to serving his community. He has been a state-certified mediator since 1998 and currently serves as a mediator and board chairman at the Resolution Center in Beatrice.

Vest is a part of the hospital visitation team for First-Plymouth Church, volunteered as a youth basketball coach, and served as a lay speaker in the United Methodist Church.

He ran for state senator in 2016, but lost in the primary.

Vest said he will work to use government funds responsibly, focus on criminal justice reform and look for innovative solutions to infrastructure investment.

“As a commissioner, I’ll ensure that citizens are getting what we are paying for: efficient public services and well-maintained roads and bridges,” he said in the news release.

Vest said he is a supporter of programs that would reduce the unnecessary incarceration of nonviolent offenders in county jails. “Promoting rehabilitation over incarceration for nonviolent offenders will lower costs and lessen repeat offenses, balancing our budget and making our community safer at the same time.”

Vest said he considers consensus-building the defining feature of his public service.

“As a county commissioner, I’ll value the opinions of my colleagues and bring them together to make the very best solutions. On the board, I’ll be in the business of building bridges between both sides,” he said in the release. 

Reach the writer at 402-473-7250 or

On Twitter @LJSNancyHicks.


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Nancy Hicks reports on Lincoln city government, but she’s been following the leaders of local and state government for more than 40 years.

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