2020 Primary Voters’ Guide: Nebraska Board of Regents

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

Viv Ewing (D):

Website: http://EwingForRegent.com
Occupation: Human Resources
Current Public Office, dates held: N/A.
Past Public Office, dates held: N/A
Education: Ph.D. University of Nebraska at Lincoln MS University of Nebraska at Omaha BS University of Nebraska at Omaha
Military experience: N/A
Volunteer experience: Salvation Army Tree of Lights Chair, UNMC Board of Councilors, UNO CPACS Board, UNO Alumni Board, Human Resources Assn of Midlands-Past President,  Salvation Army Advisory Board, Rotary Board, Opera Omaha Advisory Board, Sienna Francis House Board

 

Mike Kennedy (R):

Website: http://kennedyforregent.com
Occupation: Attorney
Current Public Office, dates held: Millard School Board Member 2003 to Present, Omaha Public Library Board Trustee 2015 to Present.
Past Public Office, dates held: Metro College Board Member 1999 to 2003, City of Omaha Charter Review Commission 2013, City of Omaha Naming Committee 2015 to 2017
Education: Juris Doctorate from Creighton University School of Law, Bachelors of Science from University of Nebraska-Omaha, High School Diploma from Creighton Preparatory High School.
Military experience: none.
Volunteer experience: I have volunteered at many community organizations over the years including the Boy Scouts of America, Millard Public Schools, and the Catholic Church.

 

Jack A. Stark (R): 

Website: http://StarkforRegent.com
Occupation: Performance Psychologist
Current Public Office, dates held: None.
Past Public Office, dates held: none.
Education: B.A. Philosophy- St. Francis Seminary. M.A. Counseling Psychology UNL Ph.D. Counseling Psychology. UNL.  Military experience: None.
Volunteer experience: Ak-Sar-Ben Award for thousands of hours of volunteer mental health counseling, UNL and Creighton sports teams, 1000 presentations to churches, schools and non profits, National President of Disability Association and Community Foundation assistance  

Candidate Responses

What role does the first amendment have on college campuses?

Viv Ewing:  The first amendment assures us of freedom of speech. This means that freedom of speech on college campuses should be allowed and supported.

Mike Kennedy: The 1st Amendment plays a vital role on our college campuses.  A college campus is designed for learning and the civil exchange of ideas.  As a person that has served on education boards for the past 22 years, including the Metro Community College Board, I believe a person serving on the Board of Regents needs to ensure that 1st amendment rights are not infringed upon and that the University has a campus climate that is civil and open to the exchange of differing opinions and ideas.

Jack A. Stark:  The more serious and pressing issue in higher Education today is the restrictions on free speech and debate on American Campuses. Free speech zones, dis-invitations of speakers and campus shutdowns undermine our most important defining mission of the search for truth. I support the first Amendment fully as written and will support that standard on College campuses.

How do you see the future of funding for Nebraska’s public universities?  

Viv Ewing:  Given the economic climate of the State, I see the future of funding for Nebraska’s public universities continuing to experience funding reductions due to budget cuts. I have been involved in efforts to advocate for less budget cuts. We have to create public private partnerships to increase the funding and continue to educate our students, retain talent, and be competitive economically.

Mike Kennedy:  The University receives 59% of its budget from state appropriations which amounts to almost 1 billion dollars.  That $1 billion investment by the Nebraska taxpayers has a $4.5 billion impact on Nebraska’s economy.  Nebraskan’s know a good value when they see it.  I believe the future for funding is bright if the Board of Regents continues to manage the budget wisely and invests in projects like UNMC’s “Next Project” which will have billions of dollars of impact on our local and state economy.

Jack A. Stark: Recent adjustments to admission requirements will help with enrollment. However the University will still be facing funding constraints as they have exhausted what they will receive from the state and other sources. As a member of the Board of Regents I will review programs and make the tough decisions on what programs need to evolve or be cut in an effort to control costs for students and increase the quality of their education.

With the rising costs of higher education, how will you help to ensure that all young Nebraskans have access to a college education?  

Viv Ewing:   I will help to ensure that all young Nebraskans have access to a college education by 1). supporting initiatives to reduce tuition cost.  2). Increase education accessibility in all parts of the state through expanded technology infrastructure. This would increase access to education, benefit agribusiness, and the economy.

Mike Kennedy:  I have successfully worked on college affordability for the past 22 years.  While serving on the Metro Board we worked to keep tuition low and expanded aid. While serving on the Millard School Board, I helped create Nebraska’s first Early College program where high school seniors graduate with their Associates Degree from Metro.  The University needs to work on securing more public and private funding for scholarships and continue its efforts in helping students obtain high paying internships

Jack A. Stark:   UNMC’S NExt Project is a 3 billion public/private partnership that will be transformational for future students. We need to find similar public/private partnerships for all of our state colleges to better match students with their talents and areas of job growth in exchange for tuition for years of service particularly in STEM fields. This will help reduce tuition costs and excessive student loan burdens for the students upon graduation.

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