Lavon Heidemann is a rising political star.
In less than half a year, Heidemann was elected to the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, and now he has a new title: lieutenant governor.
Gov. Dave Heineman announced Nebraska’s new lieutenant governor at a press conference Wednesday afternoon. Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale swore him in after the governor made the announcement.
“I’m pleased Lavon has agreed to serve the people of Nebraska as the lieutenant governor,” Heineman said. “He is a proven, dedicated public servant for the citizens of Nebraska. He will complete this term as lieutenant governor with integrity, and I look forward to working with him as we continue to move Nebraska forward.”
Heidemann replaces former Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy, who resigned on Feb. 2 after an investigation by the Omaha World-Herald found he had made 2,300 phone calls to four women who were not his wife.
Following Sheehy’s departure, Heineman said it would take several weeks to find a replacement and insisted on finding someone who would not run for his post in 2014. Several names, including Heidemann’s, floated during Sheehy’s vacancy.
“I am excited for this opportunity to serve the people of Nebraska,” Heidemann said. “Public service is something in which I believe deeply. I am looking forward to my time traveling our state, meeting with our citizens, visiting our businesses.”
He was elected to the Board of Regents in 2012. Prior to his time as a regent, Heidemann served as a state senator for legislative district 1 from 2005 to 2012. As a member of the legislature, he served as chairman of the Appropriations Committee for six years. He is an anomaly of state-level politics; he does not hold a college degree.
At the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the announcement came as a surprise.
“The names already sound confusing,” said Rebekah Sutter, a sophomore broadcasting major.
Eric Kamler, a senior agricultural economics major and president of the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska, said Heidemann’s departure will mark a change in the Board of Regents.
“I’m just as surprised as everybody else,” Kamler said. He said he feels Heidemann is fit for the job.
Juan Franco, vice chancellor for Student Affairs, said he supports Heineman’s pick.
“I’m assuming he must be an acceptable person for the job,” Franco said.
Heidemann’s election now leaves a vacant seat for the NU Board of Regents. Heineman will appoint someone to fill Heidemann’s seat until the next election.