All politics are local, as the saying goes. But politics in rural areas are usually quite different from politics in urban areas.

For one thing, rural politics are usually much more personal. There are several counties in the Nebraska sand hills that have fewer than 1,000 people in the entire county. Everybody knows each other, and when it comes time for someone to step forward and run for an office like county commissioner, it may take friends to convince a potential candidate to run.

In Nebraska and other rural states, it is not unusual for offices as high as state senator to have only one or two candidates running. For example, Louise Dougherty (right) didn’t even consider running for the York School Board when a vacancy came open. She had to be talked into it by her friends. She doesn’t like being called a politician. But she ended up serving for many years. And the most controversial issues she faced involved who the administration hired to be a sports coach.

Written by Bill Ganzel of the Ganzel Group. First written and published in 2003.


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