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Voters bring sweeping changes to Hall County government

Voting booths go back to storage in Hall County following the 2018 May Primary (NTV News)

Voters bring sweeping changes to Hall County government, where Nebraska’s newest metro area will have new leadership during a challenging time.

Butch Hurst, one of those who came out on top of a Hall County Board race says voters were tired of business as usual.

On Wednesday, the voting booths went back into storage.

The aftermath of this election brings a shakeup to Hall County government. Three of seven county board members will be new, along with a new sheriff and county attorney.

Marty Klein won the Republican primary for county attorney. There is no Democratic challenger.

Klein said, “Hall County residents wanted change. We wouldn't have that big of turnover, that many people newly elected to office.”

In the Republican sheriff’s race, Rick Conrad defeated Jerry Watson, the longest serving sheriff in county history.

Conrad agreed that voters wanted to go a new direction.

He said, “I think that's a national trend. People want changes. People aren't happy.”

Hall County’s challenges are unique. Since being designated a metropolitan area, county wages have changed to keep up with comparable cities.

Karen Bredthauer, a current member of the county board said, “If we don't stay with the times, because of the statistic, we will not be changing and we have to change, especially our budget. The costs are considerably higher. It's adding another $1.3 million a year.”

Union contracts and insurance costs rise. The county also deals with facilities issues, trying to find space for the criminal justice system.

At the same time, the value of farmland is down, which is lowering the tax base.

“It's going to be a very challenging time for the next 5-10 years,” Bredthauer said.

She said she welcomes new leadership.

“It's exciting. I think change is always good and I think it's refreshing and a fun new start and I'm excited to work with new people,” she said.

The new sheriff and county attorney campaigned together, now Klein and Conrad celebrate together.

“I can't thank you all enough,” Klein said at a joint campaign party.

And while the primary may have decided things, those who came out on top will have to wait until January to be sworn in.

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