Candidate responses are posted exactly as we received them and have not been edited.
Incumbent Matt Hansen and Bob Van Valkenburg are running for the State Legislature District 26 seat which covers Northeast Lincoln.
Matt Hansen (Incumbent)
Political Party: Democrat
Hometown: Lincoln, NE
Current City: Lincoln, NE
Bob Van Valkenburg
Political Party: Republican
Hometown: Tulsa, OK
Current City: Lincoln, NE (Since January 1968)
Previous work experience:
Hansen: State Senator, 2015-present
Valkenburg: I am a retired senior level business man who has created, incorporated, bought, sold, merged and financed a variety of successful businesses. These included two nursing homes: medical equipment suppliers in three states concurrently; real estate developments and a business/litigation consulting firm. After divesting of all except the latter, I focused my civilian professional life to working with attorneys in case preparation on a consulting basis and serving the needs of private clients in structuring and restructuring their businesses. Before and during all of he above, I served thirty-one years in active and reserve military assignments, beginning as a private and retiring as a lieutenant colonel.
Hansen: Married; Jane Schiermeyer Hansen
Valkenburg: Some of my most memorable years were those growing up during the Second World War. I was blessed with being a child of a loving, but not to prosperous family. My Dad worked for Conoco as a gasoline truck driver and later on, after my one and only sister was born, grew up and in school, my Mom worked in the offices of several clothing stores in downtown Tulsa. She also filled in as a switchboard operator at the Tulsa Police Department. One of her cousins was the head of the Juvenile Department and another head of the Traffic Department. Thus, I was raised in a hard working middle class family where both love and discipline prevailed. After graduating from Tulsa Central High School (Class of 1954) I took a year out to work and accumulate funds to enroll in Oklahoma State University from which I graduated in 1958. I married the love of my life on 4 September 1955 and together we worked until each retired a short time ago. She was a Registered Nurse for 60 years and the mother of our four children, three daughters and one son. All have families of their own and are successful in their own professional lives
What was your very first job?
Hansen: Stage crew at the Pinewood Bowl.
Valkenburg: Like all “kids” growing up in the war years who were not born into financially “well off” families, I did a variety of things to make my own money. My first “real job” was in my uncle’s neighborhood café. There I initially was a dishwasher and janitor. This evolved into my becoming a cook. Much later, I was employed as a chef and a bit later, after being married, I worked in a bakery. While at OSU, I worked in a grocery store and in oil fields in the vicinity of Perry, Oklahoma where we lived. In short, for all of my life from junior high school days until retirement, I have worked at one or more jobs concurrently. Thus, I know a lot about hard work and minimum wage jobs, but like everyone in my extended family we always were able to find a job and earn a wage.
What life achievements are you most proud of?
Hansen: I am most proud of being able to serve my community and neighborhood in the Nebraska Legislature for these past four years.
Valkenburg: I have been blessed with being the husband of a loving life companion for a month longer than sixty-three years. We are the proud parents of four well educated and successful children and a bunch of really neat grandchildren. We have reached a level of reasonably good financial security and are debt free. Professionally I am, at the risk of sounding boastful, able to point to my working with agri-business families and their attorneys and my role in saving the homes and businesses of somewhere between 70 and 80 family farms during the “farm and ranch crisis” of the 80s. I never lost a client to bankruptcy. Politically, I am most proud of working with an Omaha State Senator in the writing and sponsorship of LB-403 in the late 1970s. This piece of legislation passed through committee and final reading without receiving one single NO vote. It mandated the state to educate ALL CHILDREN to he maximum level each could be educated. There is an untold number of boys and girls, now men and women who have enjoyable and perhaps limited productive lives as a result of something the good Lord gave me the calling and challenge to accomplish. Also, in about the same time frame, I personally authored responsible environmental legislation and lobbied such into law. I believe most if not all of he language of that legislation is “still on the books.” The way we got it passed, notwithstanding organized opposition, is a funny story I am proud to be able to tell. I am also very proud of working with, leading and commanding some of the best soldiers every to serve our country. As an honor graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, I was able to lead by example and make a difference in the lives of hundreds of soldiers’ and Finally, I am proud to be and have been a Christian businessman and soldier who was trained and certified as a Stephen Minister, and thus, when called upon to do so, help people dealing with grief and life problems.
What would be the first thing you do once elected?
Hansen: I would want to thank all of my constituents for their trust and support.
Valkenburg: As I have stated in the sheets I have passed out to voters “First and foremost, he will represent your and your families effectively with dignity and civility.” That way of doing business will provide a foundation for all other things. My top priority will be working toward a reduction of property taxes and stopping the fraud associated with property tax evasion. High on my list will be creating a means for assuring that no child, elderly or handicapped person will ever go to bed hungry or in need of medical care. Finally, as a Veteran, I will be a strong advocate for all Veterans and their families. Through creating an atmosphere of cooperation and interpersonal relationships within the legislature, even when it might become necessary to disagree with other members, I will do so without being disagreeable.
Why should voters choose you in this election?
Hansen: My top priority has been and will continue to be advocating for the needs and concerns of the people in District 26. Throughout my first term in the Legislature, I have addressed key issues shared by constituents, including making sure we support all of our students, protecting our workers and economy, and investing in our neighborhoods and communities. I will continue to listen to the people of Northeast Lincoln to ensure their priorities are represented in the Legislature.
Valkenburg: I offer decades of experience and an established record of accomplishments rather than just hollow promises. Unlike at least three of Lincoln’s state senators who are lawyers, two of which have minimal experience in real world work challenges, I have hired and promoted a number of outstanding men and women and established friendly family like work environments in my businesses where all of us genuinely cared for the welfare of each other and their families. I know how to do that, because I have years of actually doing it.