“Above: The extended Quick family gathered at the farm near Hordville where the senator grew up.”
One would assume that Sen. Dan Quick, a former labor union president, would be a confident public speaker. In fact, there are far more dangerous things he would rather do than give a prepared speech.
“You could hang me upside down and tell me to weld something and I would think nothing of it,” he laughed. “But you put me on a stage and ask me to give a speech and I immediately get stage fright.”
Quick grew up on a farm outside Hordville with one sister and three brothers, helping his parents raise hogs and cattle. Starting his own small farm was not an option just out of high school, so he turned to the local grain elevator for work.
He spent nearly three decades at the Platte Generating Station in Grand Island, beginning as a coal handler and eventually going to community college to become a certified welder and then boiler inspector.
Quick’s quiet but diligent work at the power plant did not go unnoticed by his union president.
“He kept asking me to run for vice president but I kept putting him off. I felt a little selfish, but I wanted to wait until my kids were older and I’d have more time,” he said. “The day my daughter graduated from high school, there was a knock on my door.”
His work fighting for the membership of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1597 — he served both as vice president and president — has evolved into a new role as state senator, fighting for his constituents.
Quick believes the most important way to affect change is to simply have a seat at the table, which is what led him to run for office.
“I don’t want to turn away any constituent,” Quick said. “We may not always agree on the issues, but it’s important to listen and to make sure they know they are being heard.”
“In Grand Island we have the poorest of the poor living next door to some of the wealthiest citizens in town,” he said. “We need to address property taxes, but we also need to make income and sales taxes fair and equitable for everyone.”
His resume shows a man willing to work his way up from the bottom in an industry, acquiring new skills along the way. A brief, three-month detour into women’s shoe sales, however, turned to be one of his more fruitful career choices.
“A coworker told her sister that her friend Alice should come down and meet the new guy she worked with,” he said. He left the job still owing the company money for the dress clothes he bought for work. “But I did get a wife out of the deal.”
The couple married in 1980 and have three children: Michael, Stephen and Christy. Eight grandchildren keep him pretty busy in his free time, although he does find time to cheer on his beloved Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Quick said he’s unlikely to reach for the spotlight during his time in the Legislature, but he continues to develop new skills in service to his constituents.
“I’m getting better at giving public speeches, but it’s going to take some time.”