Gov. Dave Heineman today appointed a retired Air Force Colonel to the Unicameral to fill a vacant seat in the Omaha area.
“Today, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Tommy Garrett to represent District 3 in the Nebraska legislature,” Heineman said during a news conference in his Capitol office. “Tommy is a successful small business owner in Bellevue and a 26 year veteran of the United States Air Force.”
Garrett, sworn in immediately by Secretary of State John Gale, replaces Sen. Scott Price who resigned from the seat.
It was the second appointment to the seat.
Heineman initially appointed another Bellevue businessman, Patrick Shannon. But, Shannon withdrew only hours after his appointment, claiming he couldn’t fulfill the duties of a legislator due to family medical issues. It came to light though that Shannon had not yet paid a $16,000 fine levied against him during his unsuccessful run for the seat in 2004.
Garrett state during today’s news conference he felt an obligation to apply for the seat after following legislative news over the years.
“And I felt, quite honestly, when this opportunity came up that I’d be the biggest hypocrite in the world if I’d sit there and vocalize about how bad these issues are and didn’t step up at least and try and do something about it,” Garrett said. “So, I threw my hat in the ring to be considered.”
Garrett is the founder and president of the Garrett Group, a Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business specializing in defense contracts. Garrett served overseas in Operation Desert Storm and in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Garrett said the appointment gives him an opportunity to serve.
“I’m not a quiet, shrinking violet. I want to get things done, make things happen. I’ll be a force to be reckoned with.”
Garrett told reporters the bungled appointment prior to his appointment doesn’t bother him.
“Not at all. Not at all. Things happen. I was just happy that the governor called and had enough faith and confidence in me to do the job. That’s in the past. I choose to look forward.”
Heineman declined to disclose whether he knew about the fine when he appointed Shannon.
“I’m just not going to get into all those details,” Heineman responded when asked. “I’m not going to get into an argument regarding a whole series of things. Again, I want to emphasize the man who now is going to have state senator in front of his name is a very distinguish military veteran, successful businessman and his name is Tommy Garrett.”
Garrett will serve the remainder of Price’s term, which runs through next year. He said today he plans to run for the seat in November of 2014.
AUDIO: Gov. Dave Heineman announces appointment of Tommy Garrett to the Unicameral. [4 min.]