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.
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Christopher C. Costello (R): No response received
Mark V. Holst (D):
Occupation: Insurance consultant
Education: Omaha Westside High School; Associate’s Degree, Metropolitan Community College; BA, University of Nebraska
Volunteer Experience: Septemberfest, Cathedral Young Adult Ministry, Nebraska Chinese Association, Latino Police Officers Association
Zach Reinhardt (D):
Occupation: Real Estate Analyst & Broker
Current Public Office, dates held: None
Past Public Office, dates held: None
Education: Bachelors of Science in Business Administration, Real Estate and Land Use Economics, University of Nebraska at Omaha 2014
Military Experience: None
Volunteer Experience: MAPA Heartland 2050 Housing and Development Committee Co-Chair, 2018-Present; Citylight Arts Project Board, 2018-Present; Greater Omaha Chamber Young Professionals Council, 2019-Present; UNO Real Estate Program Advisory Board, 2016-Present
Evan Schmeits (D):
Occupation: AFL-CIO Labor Liaison, United Way of the Midland; Past: Aide to State Senator Mike McDonnell
Education: Metropolitan Community College; University of Nebraska-Omaha
Volunteer Experience: AFL-CIO Building Trades Chili Feed, St. Thomas More Knights of Columbus, Vice President of Working Families Caucus, CASA Advocate, Guitarist at Church, South Omaha Neighborhood Alliance, Apollon Art Space Board of Directors, South Omaha Clean-Up.
How should community colleges differentiate themselves from four-year universities?
Mark V. Holst: Our efforts are multi-faceted. First, we must actively prepare students with skills and knowledge essential for good jobs in our current and evolving workforce. For this reason, we need to recognize the Community College as a driver in our local economy. Second, the college is an invaluable partner in helping students transition from high school to 4-year college or trade programs. Third, Metro offers valuable opportunities for lifelong learning. These are distinctive missions.
Zach Reinhardt: Community colleges should differentiate themselves from four-year (often actually five-year) universities by focusing on providing affordable, real-world education that prepares students for good jobs without the crushing weight of student loan debt. By focusing on trade, technical, and job training education, and in doing so, community colleges can set themselves apart by providing instructors with real-world experience that students can learn from.
Evan Schmeits: Metropolitan Community College (MCC) is one of the prominent institutions in our community. MCC can be a stepping stone to a four-year degree, but it is so much more than that. It plays an important role in expanding Nebraska’s workforce. A four-year degree is not necessary to support a family: look at the salaries of skilled tradespeople like electricians & plumbers. The old mentality of “Work Smart, Not Hard” does not apply anymore in 2020. Beyond the trades, MCC has crucial medical programs.
What should be the qualifications of instructors at Metro?
Mark V. Holst: Instructors should have the necessary skills to be good communicators and classroom leaders. But ideally, MCC instructors also bring extensive real world experience and learned knowledge about the subject matter they are teaching. In the classroom, the instructors are on the front line in delivering student-centered education. This helps the college remain focused on that student learning goal, responding to community needs, and managing resources responsibly.
Zach Reinhardt: Because of its focus on real-world education, the qualifications of instructors at Metro should include real-world experience in the topic at hand, whenever possible. Industry involvement at Metro is key to providing students with real-world knowledge. An ability to translate the actual experience in each industry into the classroom should be a priority for any instructor at Metro. While an instructor’s educational background should be considered; actual industry experience is equally important.
Evan Schmeits: It is my understanding that Nebraska’s Department of Education ensures that educators of credit classes have, at a minimum, a master’s degree. Changing that would require a change in state policy or state law. Instructors of trade and/or vocational classes should be proficient in their area.
If elected, what would be your first-year priorities?
Mark V. Holst: To work with my fellow board members toward implementing the MCC strategic plan, for continued sustainable growth and progress at our College. As the only candidate in the race who graduated from Metropolitan Community College, I am committed to educational programs that sustain a robust economy and help attract new and better jobs to our community. Working together, we’ll find our most effective opportunities.
Zach Reinhardt: My first-year priorities will focus on supporting the important work Metro is already doing. Metro doesn’t need someone to come in and fix it. I will be a board member that works to promote all the good that Metro is doing in our community and more ways for the college to make a positive impact. I will be a champion for the students, providing guidance to ensures that Metro continues to fulfill its mission of delivering relevant, student-centered education to a diverse community of leaders.
Evan Schmeits: In my first year, I have a few priorities. They are: 1) Get more high school kids interested in the trades by expanding partnerships; 2) Push for MCC to offer reduced-price, on-campus child care for full-time students; 3) Keep tuition flat and make sure our taxpayer dollars are being used wisely; 4) Work with interested parties to make sure Metro Community College’s RN graduates can begin their career at Nebraska Medicine. Currently, Nebraska Medicine requires nurses to have a bachelor’s degree.