2020 Primary Voters’ Guide: Metropolitan Community College Board of Governors, District 3

The League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha contacts candidates during each election cycle and invites them to participate in the print and online editions of the Voters’ Guide. Candidates provide their biographical information and their positions on selected issues. Candidates are aware in advance that the biographies and answers will be printed exactly as submitted without edits for content, spelling, punctuation or grammar.

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan organization that never supports or opposes any political party or candidate for office.

PDF of 2020 Primary Douglas County Voters’ Guide | Find voter information specific to your ballot at vote411.org.

The primary election is May 12. Find out more about voting by mail: Extensive guide | Quick video guide

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Candidates

Cameron J. Gales (R):  No response received.

Gerald Mike Kuhn (D):
Occupation: Assistant Director of Human Rights and Relations for the City of Omaha
Current Public Office, dates held: None
Past Public Office, dates held: None
Education: Master’s Degree in Social Justice 2014 Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice 2005
Military Experience: None
Volunteer Experience: 100 Black Men-Mentor for 2 years Volunteer Speaker for at-risk youth through: UNO & UNL, Detroit Metro YMCA, Boys&Girls Club Basketball Coach for at risk youth: Salvation Army & Hope Center Track coach North O Bengals

Dave Pantos (D):

Website: www.davepantosformetro.com
Occupation: Attorney and Adjunct Professor
Current Public Office, dates held: Vice Chairperson, Metropolitan Community College, January 2020-present; Board Member, Metropolitan Community College, 2017Present Past Public Office, dates held: Metropolitan Community College, Secretary, January 2019-January 2020
Education: JD – Indiana University Maurer School of Law (Bloomington, IN) MSES – O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs (Bloomington, IN) BA – Rutgers College
Military Experience: None
Volunteer Experience: Omaha Northwest Rotary Nonprofit Association of the Midlands Nebraska Supreme Court Commission on Children Legal Services Corporation Pro Bono Commission

Candidate Responses

How should community colleges differentiate themselves from four-year universities?

Gerald Mike Kuhn: -Community Colleges (CC) should continue to brand themselves as a skills, trades and technical institution of higher learning. This would allow the community colleges to actively search for partnerships with cooperation’s, to be a conduit for students to enter the workforce post-graduation. -CC’s need to collaborate with local school districts to develop dual enrollments tracks for eligible students. -Finally, CC should collaborate with 4-year universities for students that need 2-year college

Dave Pantos: Community Colleges need to provide high quality education to a diverse set of learners. The traditional community college student is by definition “non-traditional.” Therefore, community colleges need to ensure that there are no barriers to entry. In a world plagued by student debt, Community College should aim to be low or no tuition. Community colleges should continue to expand dual enrollment at high schools. The relationship between 2 and 4 year schools should be a partnership.

What should be the qualifications of instructors at Metro?

Gerald Mike Kuhn: Instructors should have adequate knowledge of the discipline they are instructing by either academia at least a bachelor’s level and years of experience and/or master’s level of academia. I feel that experience in certain disciplines can serve students better that an academic professor in some situations.

Dave Pantos: In addition to being excellent instructors/professors, Metro’s college professors must be prepared to meet students where they are. Many Metro students are first generation students. Many are food-insecure. Also, for those professors/instructors who are teaching in the trade or certificate programs, they must be up-to-date in terms of the business/economic needs of the community to ensure their instruction provides a quick gateway to high-paying jobs.

If elected, what would be your first-year priorities?

Gerald Mike Kuhn: During my first year, I will build relationships with fellow board members and press issues such as developing a school to work pipeline through skilled labor and trades. Transportation to all three campuses and dual enrollment for students and stipend pay for HS teachers that teach dual enrollment courses will also be a priority during the first year.

Dave Pantos: I will prioritize the following: expansion of Pell grants to all students; keeping no tuition increases as much as possible; expanding education options in Washington County and in West Omaha; and keeping the tax levy flat for our district’s taxpayers.

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