Relocated Senator Matt Williams Still Represents Those Who Elected Him | Nebraska



Senator Matt Williams, who lives in Gothenburg, central Nebraska, is now a state senator in a Sarpy County legislative district, located on the Iowa border, half a state away.

Legislative District 36 was moved from rural Nebraska to the metropolitan area during the September Special Session of the Legislature to respond to redistribution demands imposed by the state’s shifting population.

But Williams, a Gothenburg banker who still has a year to sit in the legislature before being limited in his term in late 2022, has not moved with his district.

“Technically, yes, I now represent Legislative District 36 of Sarpy County,” Williams said in a telephone interview.

“But, practically, I still represent the same people in the old Legislative District 36,” he said. “I feel like I represent the people who elected me.”

There has been no trip to Sarpy County to show up, Williams said, although he may accept some invitations to events in the rapidly growing metropolitan Omaha County in the coming year. .

There will be no change in how he votes, Williams said. He is still the senator from Gothenburg and he is still what he was.

“I think there is a misconception that Senators change the way they operate after being redirected,” Williams said. “But they really don’t.

“It was a really tough special session,” he said. “I did the things that I thought were necessary to achieve cooperation, agreement and compromise, even though it was not pleasant for me.”

When his “dear friend,” Senator Mark Kolterman of Seward, “made it very clear that he would not accept the original redistribution proposal” that would have moved his District 24 to Sarpy County, Williams went. see Senator Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn, chair of the redistribution committee, to suggest an alternative plan.

Move District 36 to Sarpy County, but protect its constituents by not dividing Dawson and Custer counties in the subsequent redistribution plan; to do so would reduce their voting power.

The end result was that Dawson County – the original Williams County – holds around 65% of the vote in the newly revised District 44 and Custer holds around 26% in the sprawling 43rd District.

“I wanted the people I represent to have the opportunity to elect someone who would represent them well,” said Williams.

And now Williams is gearing up for his final legislative session with a ton of big decisions awaiting all 49 Senators.

Allocation of $ 1 billion in federal pandemic relief funds, key tax and school funding reform proposals, as well as housing funding and development for the rural workforce in be part of.

“One of my goals will be to add some stability to the funding (of workforce housing) that is already underway,” he said, with the aim of helping to secure the economic future of rural Nebraska.

Williams, who is a board member of Innovation Campus Development Corp. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said it would seek state funding of $ 25 million to help secure a new research facility proposed by the United States Department of Agriculture on campus during the next legislature session.

Lincoln Representative Jeff Fortenberry has secured seed federal funding for the planning and design of the new USDA center which Williams says could ultimately be a $ 250 million project housed in two new buildings.

“It’s a big deal,” he said, and state financial support could “cement the deal.

“It’s the icing on the cake,” he said.

Williams, a graduate of UNL and its law school, will run for a seat on the University of Nebraska board of directors in 2022 and has traveled to the 45-county district and raised money for his campaign.

Longtime Regent Bob Phares of North Platte has decided not to run for a six-year term after serving 16 years on the Board of Directors.

“Our university is vitally important to the long-term success of our state,” said Williams.

And like the Legislative Assembly, the Council of Regents is a non-partisan body whose members are elected from a non-partisan list.

Williams is a registered Republican, but “I’ve worked really hard to uphold that non-partisan spirit,” he said.



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