2020 Primary Voters’ Guide: Nebraska Unicameral, District 9

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

John Cavanaugh (D):
Website: www.cavanaughfornebraska.com
Occupation: Assistant Public Defender
Education: B.A. – Catholic University of America M.A.- Environmental Policy from Vermont Law School J.D. – Vermont Law School
Volunteer Experience: ModeShift Omaha, Aksarben/Elmwood Park Neighborhood Association

Marque Snow (D):
Website: www.votesnow.com
Occupation: Senior Advisor / Development
Current Public Office, dates held: Omaha Public Schools Board Member May 2013 – Present Board Vice President January 2017- January 2018 Board President January 2018 – Present
Education: University of South Dakota, B.S. Political Science & History 2011
Volunteer Experience: 100 Black Men of Omaha (Mentor) African Culture Connection (Board Member) Huespring Omaha (Advisory Board Member)

Mark Vondrasek (D):
Website: www.markinmidtown.com
Occupation: Bicycle Mechanic & Field Technician
Education: Some College, UNL, UNO, Metro CC. Volunteer Experience: Organizer w/ “Omaha Tenants United”, usually do 20-30 hours a month of tenant organizing: canvassing & surveying folks who rent, help tenants negotiate with landlords, help tenants negotiate evictions, go to Eviction Court, need 2000+ words for this.

Candidate Responses

Does Nebraska need to change its method of redistricting? Why or why not?

John Cavanaugh: Yes, we need a nonpartisan redistricting process independent of elected officials. The people of the district should pick their elected official and not the other way around. I would support a nonpartisan commission to draft all election districts. I would further support nonpartisan elections for all state and federal offices in Nebraska as well.

Marque Snow: Yes,

Mark Vondrasek: Yes. Currently State Senators do it and that is unacceptable; the people who will benefit should not choose their voters. I would support an independent redistricting authority to be created for NE.

How should the problem of prison overcrowding be handled?

John Cavanaugh: We can not build our way out of a prison overcrowding crisis. We need to address the root causes of crime and incarceration. We need to start with investing in early childhood education. Increase access to health care and mental healthcare for children and adults. We must increase access to Drug and Alcohol treatment. The jail and prison system should not be the only place people can get treatment. We also need sentencing reform and to change our approach to non-violent offenses.

Marque Snow: Prison reform

Mark Vondrasek: My opinion is that our prison system, here in Nebraska and the rest of the US, is so horrific that one could almost argue letting most prisoners out would have better societal effects than to continue to let current conditions exist at all. I am just a Worker not an academic, but I work hard to understand prison abolition theory b/c what I believe prisons should be is so radically different from their current form that it would only be appropriate to call it abolition. Need more space.

Do you feel there is a need for voter ID, if so why and how should it be implemented?

John Cavanaugh: No, we should be making it easier to vote, not harder. Voter ID disenfranchises the poor and those less able to get a state ID. If elected, I will advocate for Universal Vote By Mail. It is safer and less expensive than traditional voting in person. It is also more secure. Universal Vote By Mail has the added benefit of giving people the time to sit at their dinner table with their ballots and the League of Women Voters’ guide to do their research.

Marque Snow: No

Mark Vondrasek: No. Every single person should be automatically registered to vote.

Should there be increased restrictions on money in politics? Why or why not and what specific restrictions would you support?

John Cavanaugh: Yes, money has a corrupting influence on anyone, and the need to raise large sums of money perverts the purpose of elections, which is to communicate with voters. Some money is necessary to communicate effectively. Individuals should be able to contribute to campaigns, but corporations and unidentified entities should not be able to spend money on behalf of candidates. If elected, I would work to amend the Constitution to repeal the Citizens United opinion and get dark money out of politics.

Marque Snow: Yes, lobby and interest groups

Mark Vondrasek: Yes. It’s very clear that our current problems are caused by the undue influence those with money have on our political and economic affairs. I advocate for Workers to organize at their workplace, in their homes/apartments, and in general in their daily lives to fight back and take power back from bourgeois politicians and their business counterparts. 500 characters is not enough space to adequately outline “specific” restrictions I would support, of which there are many.

Does Nebraska need a paid family medical leave program? Why or why not? 

John Cavanaugh: Yes, the recent Covid-19 crisis has laid bare the weaknesses in our society. People go to work when they are sick, risking the health of everyone around them because they can not miss a paycheck. Now, we have a glaring example of what advocates for family leave have been saying for years. We need family medical leave to help the individual but also to protect the rest of society.

Mark Vondrasek: Absolutely yes. In order to support working families during medical problems who have been left behind by the “free market”. Capitalism doesn’t value the health of families because it doesn’t make profit to keep families healthy. We need a lot more than PFML. We need Universal Healthcare. We need organized and Unionized workplaces so greedy bosses can’t revoke healthcare or layoff Workers in a crisis like a worldwide pandemic.

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