The lure of public office has drawn Nebraska's Chuck Hassebrook away from the Center for Rural Affairs - for now. Hassebrook announced he would run for the seat being vacated by Sen. Ben Nelson, as a Democratic candidate this fall. On Monday, the organization he runs granted him a leave to run for public office.
Hassebrook has served the center for 34 years, and now turns his attention to the Senate race. In the press release announcing the approval of Hassebrook's leave, Jim Knopik, Fullterton, Neb., board president says: "As board president, I have every confidence in our staff's ability to keep the center and our work for rural America moving forward."
Knopik adds that Hassebrook has guided the organization "through thick and thin." At the same time, the board approved a succession plan previously developed by the board and staff. They have tapped Assistant Executive Director Brian Depew to fill the role of Acting Executive Director. Depew will assume the new role as Hassebrook officially heads for the campaign trail on March 1.
The Center has long been an advocate for rural America promoting policies that reward stewardship and strengthen small farms and business, according to its website. The national nonprofit, has been a leader in promoting on farm sustainable management practices, that started with the Small Farm Energy Project.
Hassebrook is also on the University of Nebraska Board of Regents. Nelson's seat opens as the Senator retires. Sen. Bob Kerrey was a potential candidate, but announced he would not run on Feb. 7.
Source: Center for Rural Affairs