Featured

Join Us for the LWVGO & LWVNE Annual Meeting on April 27

LWVGO’s 2019 annual meeting will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 27 at the AIM Exchange Trading Floor, 7th Floor, 1905 Harney Street.

Annual Meeting Schedule of Events

Immediately following the LWVGO annual meeting will be a taco-bar luncheon, featuring a talk by LWV national board member Melissa Currence. Following the luncheon, LWVNE will have its annual meeting in the same space.

  • 8:30 a.m.: Check-in
  • 9 a.m.: LWVGO annual meeting begins
  • 11 a.m.: Lunch begins
  • 11:30 a.m.: Speaker begins
  • 1 p.m.: LWVNE annual meeting begins
  • 3 p.m.: Day concludes

Register for the LWVGO annual meeting (and pay for the lunch) by no later than 5 p.m. on April 19 to guarantee entry. Register using the form below or by sending a note and check to LWVGO.

To attend the afternoon LWVNE meeting, send a check for $10 to LWVNE at 4600 Valley Road, Suite 306, Lincoln, NE 68510. (This additional fee covers the cost of workbook printing.)

Please send any questions to vicepresident@lwvgo.org.

Featured Speaker: Melissa Currence

Melissa Currence has served as a Ruth S. Shur Fellow for the League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS) since 2015, serving the states of Illinois and New York. She also co-Chaired the Young People Task Force for two years. Melissa joined LWV when she was 18 and has served on LWV Cincinnati Area board in several capacities including president, vice president of voter service, and is currently vice president of development.

She served on the LWV Ohio for two years on membership engagement committee and starting the state’s social media presence.  In addition, she serves as vice president of the Cincinnatus Association, a membership organization providing civic leadership and improving the long-term vitality of the Cincinnati region.  Melissa has a B.A. in Political Science from Xavier University (2001) and a Master’s of Arts in Journalism from The Ohio State University (2004). She has worked in the nonprofit public relations/marketing field for 14 years, and is the Community Impact Marketing Director at The Greater Cincinnati Foundation. She has several writing projects at melissacurrence.com and stubbycurrence.com. 

Parking at Our New Office in the AIM Institute Building

Parking is available on the garage roof, leading into a second-floor entrance to the building. Overflow parking is available across the street at the Omaha-Douglas Civic Center garage.

Register for the Annual Meeting

Register for the annual meeting, and pay for taco lunch, by filling out and submitting the form below. Once you submit, you’ll see our PayPal gateway appear in your browser. Use this to pay for your lunch(es). (You do not need to have a PayPal account to complete payment.)

Featured

Join LWVNE for Legislative Day on Feb. 19

The League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha participates in the yearly League of Women Voters of Nebraska legislative/lobby day and encourages all interested folks — members and nonmembers — to join as well.

The goal of LWVNE Legislative Day is to learn about how to effectively lobby state legislators as well as to put theory into practice. The day finishes with a “lunch and learn” presentation.

Read more about the 2019 priority bills that LWVNE members will lobby for.

This year’s Legislative Day takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19, in Lincoln. The full schedule is listed below.

The featured luncheon speaker is Danielle Conrad, former state senator and current executive director of the ACLU of Nebraska, speaking on the topic of Criminal Justice Reform.

For more info and to register (registration is required and the deadline to register is Feb. 8), go to lwv-ne.org.

8:30 to 9 — Nebraska State Education Association Meeting Room

Registration and Refreshments. Note that parking is NOT available.

9 to 10:15 — Nebraska State Education Association Meeting Room

The Legislative process; LWVNE Priorities presented by LWVNE Action Directors: Lynne Elwood, Government; Phyllis Salyards, Health Care; John Else, Social Policy.

10:15 to 11:50 — State Capitol

Visit with senators, observe Unicameral in session, tour Capitol.

11:50 to 1 — Governor’s Mansion

Luncheon (Salmon with a Quinoa & Asparagus Salad) + speaker.

Featured

Election Facts at a Glance: Get Ready for the 2018 Primary

Election Day for the 2018 primary is May 15 and the deadline to register or change your registration (if you’ve moved, changed your name, want to change your political party affiliation, etc.) is coming up fast. In Douglas and Sarpy counties, the deadline to register by mail, through an agent (like one of our voter-registration volunteers) or online is April 30. Douglas County residents can also register in-person at the election commission office any time before 6 p.m. on May 4.

As part of our mission to empower voters, LWVGO has put together a two-page printable factsheet about the election: ElectFacts: 2018 Primary. Below, we’ve collected some more extensive information about the primary and how to be a voter. We also have a Google Calendar available with the deadlines and will be collecting candidate forums and other resources on our website under the heading “2018 ELECTIONS.”

We encourage you to distribute this information with your friends, families and community members.

Get out there and go vote, Omaha!

About This Election

Nebraska primary basics

In this election, voters will narrow the field — candidates that “win” their primary elections will go on to compete in the 2018 general election in November.

Many of Nebraska’s state and local offices are nonpartisan (including the state legislature and public utility races), so, in these races, the top two candidates — regardless of their political party affiliation — will move on the general election.

For example, Nebraska legislative district 8 has three candidates on the ballot, all of whom are registered Democrats. The primary election next month will determine which two will appear on the general election ballot in November.

Other offices have partisan primary races. This means that the primary election determines which candidate represents a given party in the general election.

For example, the Nebraska governor’s race has two Republicans and three Democrats in the primary. There will be two winners — one for each party, and those two will go on to appear on the general election ballot.

Some races, both nonpartisan and partisan ones, won’t be on the primary ballot because the number of candidates is small enough that they all advance to the general election.

For example, there’s only one Democratic candidate for secretary of state (a statewide, partisan race) but there are two Republican candidates, so voters who vote the Democratic ballot won’t see secretary of state as an option but those who vote the Republican ballot will.

Omaha Public Schools’ bond issue

Residents in the Omaha Public School District will have an issue on their ballots, in addition to the primary candidates running for representation of their districts. OPS voters will decide to grant or not grant a bond to fund the school district. You can find out more about this issue from Go Vote, Omaha.

Who Can Vote

You are eligible to vote in Nebraska if you are:

  1. A Nebraska resident; and
  2. A US citizen; and
  3. At least 18 years old OR 17 years old but you’ll be 18 by Nov. 6, 2018; and
  4. Have never been convicted of a felony OR have been convicted of a felony but have completed your entire sentence (including probation/parole and incarceration), plus 2 years of wait-time. (Citizens with misdemeanor convictions or citizens who have spent time in jail, including while awaiting trial, do not lose their right to vote.)

What about political parties?

Voters must select a political party when they register. There are four recognized parties: Republican, Democratic, Libertarian and Nonpartisan.

Registered voters of all parties (including nonpartisans) can vote in the primary election. Republican, Democratic and Libertarian voters will receive ballots specific to their respective parties. Nonpartisan voters will receive Nonpartisan ballots and can also choose to vote an additional ballot. If they elect to, Nonpartisans can choose to also vote the Nonpartisan Republican ballot, Nonpartisan Democratic ballot or Nonpartisan Libertarian ballot. These additional ballots include only the respective party’s Congressional race. View this graphic from the Douglas County Election Commission for a visual explanation.

What if I don’t have an address or are registered at my parents’ address but go to school out-of-state?

If you are registered at your parent’s home, you will need to request an early ballot to vote by mail.

If you live in a shelter, you can register to vote using the address of the shelter. You can vote early or on Election Day.

If you do not have an address at all, you can register to vote using the address of your county election commission office as your address. You can then vote early, in-person at the election commission office between April 16 and May 14. You cannot vote on Election Day.

If you are in a county jail, you can register to vote using your home address. You will need to request an early ballot to vote by mail.

How to Register to Vote

The deadline to register to vote in this election is April 30.

Nebraska residents can register online via the Nebraska Secretary of State’s website.

You can also register to by paper: You can fill out and print the form and mail it to your election commission or bring it in. (Mailed registrations must be postmarked by April 30.)

Douglas County Election Commission
225 North 115th Street
Omaha, NE 68154

Sarpy County Election Commission
501 Olson Dr. Suite 4
Papillion, NE 68046

Verify your registration and that all your information is correct by going to the Nebraska Voter Check website and entering your information under “Registration Information.”

How, When & Where to Vote

Nebraska voters can: vote early by going to their county election office (early in-person voting), vote early by mailing their ballot to their county election office (vote by mail), vote early by dropping off a ballot in a dropbox, or vote in-person at their polling place.

Early Voting

You can go to your county election commission office and vote early in-person any time between 8 a.m. Monday, April 16 and 6 p.m. Monday, May 14. Here are the office addresses:

Douglas County Election Commission
225 North 115th Street
Omaha, NE 68154

Sarpy County Election Commission
501 Olson Dr. Suite 4
Papillion, NE 68046

Vote By Mail (VBM)

In Douglas and Sarpy counties, you have to request a ballot to get it mailed to you. If you request a ballot, you cannot vote on Election Day. In Douglas County, you can also drop your ballot off at a dropbox instead of putting it in the mail.

To get a ballot mailed to you, fill out the form for your county and then email it in, mail it in or deliver it to your county election commission office. The deadline is 6 p.m. on Friday, May 4.

Douglas County Application
Email: earlyvoting@votedouglascounty.com
Dropbox Locations

Office Location:
225 North 115th Street
Omaha, NE 68154

Sarpy County Application
Email: earlyvote@sarpy.com
Office Location:
501 Olson Dr. Suite 4
Papillion, NE 68046

Verifying Your Ballot Was Received

After voting, it’s a good idea to check that your early/vote-by-mail ballot was received and accepted. To do this, go to the Nebraska Voter Check website, click on “Absentee Ballot” and enter your information.

At-Poll (Election Day) Voting

If you did not request an early/absentee/VBM ballot, you’ll vote on Election Day, which is Tuesday, May 15. You’ll go to your polling place any time between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Your election commission office should have sent you a card with your polling place information and district information when you registered or changed your registration. But you can find your polling place online if you need to: Go to the Nebraska Voter Check website and enter your address.

How to Find Out Who & What Will Be On Your Ballot

Your election commission office should have sent you a card with your polling place information and district information when you registered or changed your registration.

If you live in Douglas or Sarpy County, you can also find out your districts online. You can then match up your districts with voting guides to find out more about the candidates running to be your representative in those districts.

You can find out who is running in each race/district on the Douglas County Election Commission website (this includes statewide races and U.S. House of Representatives District 2 but not races specific to only Sarpy County).

Because this is a primary and there’s a mix of partisan and nonpartisan races, there are different ballots for the different political parties. Every ballot has the nonpartisan races that you’re eligible to vote for plus the bond-issue question, if you live in the Omaha Public School District. Libertarian, Republican and Democratic ballots have all the nonpartisan races, the bond-issue question (if you live in the OPS District), plus the party candidates for the partisan races.

Find Your Districts: Douglas County

If you’re registered, you can use the Nebraska Voter Check website to find both your polling place information and your districts.

If you’re not registered (or just recently registered), go to the Douglas County Election Commission website and enter your address under “Finding Your Voting Information.” (Tip: Use the advanced search for better results.)

Find Your Districts: Sarpy County

Go to the Polling Place Locator website and enter your address. Under the Voting Info tab, you’ll see your polling place address and can even click on links to view sample ballots. Click on the Districts tab to see all of your representatives and the districts they represent.

Featured

Join Observer Corps

Want to get to know your local government and help make democracy work? Join Observer Corps!

Observer Corps are a structured way for individuals to exercise their right to know. They provide a valuable service to the community. They help ensure that citizens are aware of the decisions that impact their lives and they promote government transparency and accountability.

An observer is an individual who attends a governmental meeting, notes what happens at the meeting, and reports back to the League and through the League to the community. By attending public meetings of local governmental bodies/agencies, observers learn more about what their government is doing. They learn about the issues facing their community and are empowered to take action, if warranted. They also learn how issues are being addressed.

Observers generally do not “act” on issues in these meetings as a representative of the League (observers should not provide commentary or testimony on issues on behalf of the League). Instead, observers attend meetings to gather information. Through the process, their presence encourages better, more transparent government.

Anyone is welcome to become an observer. Non-members are welcome to join and all participants are encouraged to bring a friend!

How much time does it take?

Observers can choose when they are available and how much time they are able to spend observing. They can choose to observe bodies that meet during the day, in the evenings and that are held weekly, twice per month, monthly or every other month. Observers can also choose to “virtually attend” meetings at any time they like by watching/listening to recordings available online. If there is a large enough response, we may be able to “double up” observers and even have rotating schedules (one meeting on, one meeting off), if desired.

To become an observer:

  1. Fill out the interest survey here: http://bit.ly/ObsSignup.
  2. Attend a brief training session with one or both of the observer corps leaders. (This can be done in person or online.)
  3. Attend your first meeting! We can provide outlines for taking notes if you like.

Any questions?

Contact Alex Garrison at alexcgarrison@gmail.com or Linda Duckworth at lindabduckworth@gmail.com.

Go Vote, Omaha! Polls Open 8-8 Today

Today, May 12, 2020, is Election Day! If you haven’t already voted in the 2020 primary election, polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. across the state.

Find your polling location — please note that many have changed for this election due to COVID-19 concerns — by entering your address on this secure website: votercheck.necvr.ne.gov/voterview. And check out the Secretary of State’s tips for staying safe while voting.

Our Douglas County voters’ guide is available via our website and on Vote411.org.

2020 Primary Voters’ Guide: Omaha Public School Board, 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

Help us share this info! Forward these links to your friends and family. 

Candidates

Tracy Casady (D):
Occupation: Human Resource Specialist
Current Public Office, dates held: Omaha Public Schools Board of Education, Subdistrict 9
Education: Master of Arts, Communication – University of Nebraska at Omaha, 2012; Bachelor of Arts, Journalism/Public Relations, Creighton University 1997
Volunteer Experience: Relay for Life of Greater Omaha, volunteer Girls on the Run, Run Buddy

Erik Servellon (D): No response received.

Kay Wainwright (R): No response received.

Candidate Responses

How can schools use technology to foster better equity and educational outcomes?

Tracy Casady: Technology is key in our schools for so many reasons and is an area that is constantly changing. Having the right technology and continuing to keep the technology up-to-date is critical. Our schools use technology each day to teach students and prepare them for the future and any career they may choose – technology is everywhere. Technology is for everyone, it has no bias and it does not discriminate. Technology is key to providing ALL students the best possible educational outcome.

What can be done to ensure the safety of students and teachers in our schools?

Tracy Casady: Safety has become an issue that is much larger than it once was with regard to our schools. Now, we face safety concerns in every facet of our schools, from the front door to our playgrounds. Many positive steps have been taken to increase the safety of our students and staff. Ensuring that our budgets allow for funding for new technology that supports safety, such as video security devices for our entrances, SRO’s in our most vulnerable schools and building security personnel, to name a few.

What role, if any, should charter schools have in the Nebraska educational system?

Tracy Casady: I am in favor of school choice and parents making the best choice for their family. Charter schools are a viable choice for many, but they are at a cost. Public schools are free, they are available to all and are a wonderful education choice! I believe that state and local taxes must continue to support our state’s public schools. Our public schools are vital and necessary for so many who would otherwise not be able to afford an education. Public schools need continued financial support.

2020 Primary Voters’ Guide: Nebraska Public Service Commission, District 2

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

Help us share this info! Forward these links to your friends and family. 

Candidates

Tim Davis (R):

Website: http://timjdavis.comm
Occupation: Candidate
Education: Two diplomas in Construction and Entrepreneurship.  These were received from Southeast Community College and Western Iowa Tech.
Volunteer experience: Volunteered on the Don Bacon Campaign in 2018 One of the Douglas County Republican Volunteer of the Year in 2019.

Krystal Gabel (R):

Website: www.krystalgabel.com
Occupation: Cybersecurity Technical Writer and Business Analyst
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Writing, magna cum laude, Briar Cliff University, 2002
Volunteer experience: I am a grassroots volunteer who co-owns the Peace Garden of South Omaha at 33rd Ave & R St, a community garden that grows and gives away free vegetables and herbs to anyone who stops by Free Food Saturdays from June-October.

Crystal Rhoades (D): 

Website: www.crystalrhoades.com
Current Public Office, dates held: Commissioner Nebraska Public Service Commission 2015 – present.
Past Public Office, dates held: Metropolitan Community College Board 2006-2014.
Education: Bachelor of Arts, Master of Science, University of Nebraska, Omaha.
Military experience: None.
Volunteer experience: Chairwoman Douglas County Democratic Party 2016 – Present,  National Association of Regulatory Commissioners, Vice Chair of Telecommunications Committee and the Rural Broadband Expansion Task Force.

Candidate Responses

Why are you the best candidate for this position?  

Tim Davis:  When I get elected, I will work to get the most up to date broadband service to the voters ahead of schedule. I will make sure the life-saving 911 system is in place allowing for fast response times.  I will work to make sure we have the best rates available for all ride sharing options on the market.

Krystal Gabel: I am the up-and-coming conservative candidate who can win the General Election against the incumbent. I am dedicated to becoming a public servant who is transparent and accessible to all Nebraskans. I advocate for limited government and increased freedom from taxation, regulation, and oppressive laws. I believe in protecting all individuals, their natural rights and liberties, and their private properties from irrational establishment authority.

Crystal Rhoades:  This position requires a detailed knowledge of telecommunications infrastructure, consumer protection law, transportation law, and the ability to understand complex technical topics.  I have a proven track record of working with state and federal law and policy makers to produce results for constituents. During my tenure I’ve worked with the legislature to pass laws that legalized ride sharing, legislation to reduce robocalls, and improved accountability for companies receiving public grants. I

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

Tim Davis:  I plan to sit down and discuss with the various cellular providers in the market to discuss what issues they are having when it comes to implementing the updated broadband services.  I will also look into the Next Gen 911 system to make sure we are getting the best services possible.

Krystal Gabel:  My priorities are to make the office of PSC work entirely for The People, including our right to freely participate and succeed in commerce. I will encourage a reducton in overbearing regulations and focus on making Nebraska’s regulatory bodies more efficient with taxpayer dollars. I promise to find gaps in how PSC and our taxes are managed and push to streamline to reduce taxpayer burden. I am one of many who is saying NO to new taxes and overbearing regulations.

Crystal Rhoades:  I’ll continue to improve oversight of government funds such as 911 and universal service to ensure customers are getting high quality services at the lowest cost.  When I started at the Commission the audits for 911 were running 3-5 years behind. I advocated to get those completed so taxpayers would have confidence their money was being spent appropriately. I’ve also been an advocate at the state and local level to expand access to high speed internet for low income customers and will continue t

What are the three most important issues your community/county is facing and how would you address them?

Tim Davis:  District 2 has a number of issues they deal with.  First of which is the 911 response time.  There have been a number of instances where services took longer than it should have.  When I get elected I will review what is needed to make sure Next Gen 911 is up and running to minimize future response time.  I will work closely with the telcom providers in the state to make sure that the voters are getting the most up to date broadband services at the best possible prices.

Krystal Gabel:  1) Nebraska is facing a mismanagement of taxpayer money. 2) We are passing bonds to make ends meet in education, infrastructure, and public services, yet lawmakers are still asking for money without any sustainable solutions. This must stop. I don’t expect our residents to continue paying for everything. 3) We must be resourceful and forward-thinking in how we earn revenue and create jobs, including privatizing utilities as a solution to public sector budgetary problems and taxpayer burden.

Crystal Rhoades:  1. Funding and improving 911 call center reliability is critical in Douglas County. Currently our community has the highest call volume and contributes more to the 911 fund than any other county but we receive a fraction of the funding back to support our call center. I will work with other stakeholders to find a more equitable distribution of funding that is based on call volume and population. 2. There are frequent telephone outages in Douglas County resulting from failure to invest in our inf

2020 Primary Voters’ Guide: Douglas County Commissioner, District 7

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

Help us share this info! Forward these links to your friends and family. 

Candidates

Clare Duda (R):
Occupation: Farmer
Current Public Office, dates held: Douglas County Commissioner since 1993
Education: B.A. in math and physics
Volunteer Experience: 44 years EMT/firefighter with Ponca Hills VFD. 22 years on the Douglas County Health Center Foundation. Still active on both.

Mike Friend (R):
Website: www.votemikefriend.com
Occupation: Agent-Farm Bureau Financial Services
Current Public Office, dates held: none
Past Public Office, dates held: Nebraska Legislature, District 10 2003 through 2009
Education: Creighton University, BA, Mass Communications

Candidate Responses

What element of the county’s government is most effective, and why?

Clare Duda: The Covid -19 outbreak has displayed the incredible effectiveness of the Douglas County Health Department and Douglas County Emergency Management as they tirelessly work to ensure residents’ safety. All Douglas County departments have coordinated together to provide needed services to the public under challenging conditions. Our preparations are being tested, and essential functions are not skipping a beat.

Mike Friend: The administrative function in all areas. County administration is a ministerial responsibility, which requires great attention to detail and sound fiduciary responsibility. Efficient appropriation of funding with the taxpayer in mind is paramount.

What are some ways to provide property tax relief? Are there any services you think should be cut, and if so, why?

Clare Duda: The vast majority of Douglas County services are statutory. We have already cut the services I view as unnecessary. Budgeting is a non stop, constant search for any efficiencies we can gain.

Mike Friend: Internal auditing of processes and programs are important. Possible redundancy in law enforcement services could be addressed, as well as redundancy in other services between the city and county governments. Interlocal agreements are also a good way to potentially relieve certain redundancies.

What do you see as the three most compelling problems facing your office?

Clare Duda: 1. The overcrowded Courthouse and the constantly growing pressures on the criminal justice system; finding consensus to move forward on reforming the juvenile justice system. 2. Meeting the community’s growing mental health needs, including in the jail. We must also find a sustainable model for our detox program. 3. We are constantly aware that we have an overtaxed property tax base.

Mike Friend: Fiduciary/financial responsibility. The need for property tax relief.  Understanding and implementing appropriate taxing authority (utilizing a vote of the people is one example)

What should the county do to address climate change issues?

Clare Duda: I spearheaded installing Nebraska’s first methane recovery system, now utilizing that methane for commercial purposes. We were the first government locally to require low impact development. We need to continue seeking energy efficiencies, and with more use of technology to aid in less travel and face to face meetings.

Mike Friend: Always implement best practices to seriously deal with our responsibility to be a good steward of the environment.

2020 Primary Voters’ Guide: Douglas County Commissioner, 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

Help us share this info! Forward these links to your friends and family. 

Candidates

Asit Goswami (D):

Website: www.votegoswami.com
Occupation: Hospitalist Physician (Family Medicine trained)
Education: Family Medicine residency training at Creighton. MD from Marshall University in Huntington, WV. BS in Biological Physics from Washington and Jefferson University in Washington, PA. BA in Religious Studies from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL
Volunteer Experience: Gifford Park Neighborhood Association liaison to Gifford Park Elementary School. Vice President Joslyn Castle Neighborhood Association. OTOC Housing Action Team. Heartland Workers Center. Nebraska Academy of Family Physician Scientific Affairs Comm.

Chris Rodgers (D):
Occupation: Director of Community and Goverment Relations at Creighton University, Commissioner – Douglas County, Nebraska
Current Public Office, dates held: Douglas County Commissioner (2005 – Present)
Past Public Office, dates held: Member of Metropolitan Community College Board of Governors (1999 – 2004)
Education: Creighton University BA 92; MBA 99 and University of Nebraska at Omaha MPA 2002
Military Experience: None
Volunteer Experience: Salem Baptist Church, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc.

Candidate Responses

What element of the county’s government is most effective, and why?

Asit Goswami: All stakeholders must have a voice in wise planning for Douglas County residents. The voter approved 2016 Public Safety Bond issue is a terrific example The County board met for months, listened to the public, and put the issue to a vote of the people, which passed with overwhelming support. The project retrofitted an existing County building, upgraded the 911 Center to a state-of-the-art facility, consolidated County offices, saved money on leases, and created an energy efficient campus.

Chris Rodgers: The Health Department is one of our most effective elements. I think we see it now through our response to the Coronavirus Pandemic.

What are some ways to provide property tax relief? Are there any services you think should be cut, and if so, why?

Asit Goswami: The County Board can lower the levy instead of raising it when property values go up. Even though the County has enjoyed a budget surplus for several years, they decided to raise the levy in 2019. Adjustments in the Homestead Exemption will provide disabled citizens and their caregivers property tax relief. With fresh eyes reviewing the budget, we will find efficiencies within existing departments. With a smart Master Plan incorporating zero based budgeting, services will have enhanced value.

Chris Rodgers: County Government runs very lean. Ending unfunded mandates from the state can help reduce property taxes.

What do you see as the three most compelling problems facing your office?

Asit Goswami: Coronavirus has disrupted our County, and we will need a transparent plan for a sustainable recovery for our entire community. We need tools like emergency push notifications from Douglas County Health Department. The board meets at inconvenient times for the working public, proposed twice to close public comment and makes community decisions behind closed doors. We demand transparency. Let’s reverse the trend of privatizing County government which decreases accountability for public services.

Chris Rodgers: Mentally Ill in adult corrections, reforming juvenile justice and preparing public health for its future in Douglas County.

What should the county do to address climate change issues?

Asit Goswami: Climate change begins with retrofitting buildings vs. demolishing and building anew. Building a new downtown jail for our youth with promise without a vote of the people for the largest real estate deal in the history of Douglas County that will increase property taxes is not a priority for our community. To decrease our Carbon footprint, let’s renovate the Douglas County Youth Center rather than build a downtown jail. Just like the 2016 Safety Bond which put climate change at the forefront.

Chris Rodgers: We should take opportunities to use renewable energy. I think this is the most immediate manner we can address climate change.

2020 Primary Voters’ Guide: Douglas County Commissioner, District 5

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

Help us share this info! Forward these links to your friends and family. 

Candidates

Maureen Boyle (D):

Website: www.MaureenBoyleMD.com
Occupation: OB-GYN physician
Current Public Office, dates held: none
Past Public Office, dates held: none
Education: Marian High School; University of Nebraska at Omaha, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, major in finance; University of Nebraska Medical Center, Medical Doctor
Military Experience: none

Joe DiCostanzo (D):

Website: www.joedicostanzo.com
Occupation: High School Assistant Principal
Current Public Office, dates held: None
Past Public Office, dates held: None
Education: University of Nebraska- Lincoln, B.S. Harvard Graduate School of Education, M.Ed.
Military Experience: None
Volunteer Experience: Benson Neighborhood Association, NLC Omaha, Benson Theatre Board of Directors

Josh Henningsen (D): 

Website: www.JoshHenningsen.com
Occupation: Legal Counsel, Nebraska Legislature
Education: University of Iowa College of Law, University of Kansas
Volunteer Experience: Metcalfe-Harrison Neighborhood Association, St. Pius St. Leo Education Committee, youth basketball coach

Michael Young (D):

Website: www.michaelyoung2020.com
Occupation: Technology Management Consultant & Business Owner | Technology Consulting Solutions.
Current Public Office, dates held: Metropolitan Community College Board of Governors, District 2 (2016-Present), Transit Authority of Omaha Board of Directors Chairman (2010 – Present)
Education: Metropolitan Community College University of Nebraska at Omaha
Volunteer Experience: 100 Black Men of Omaha (Member), Association of Community College Trustees – Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee Member (representing MCC), Carole’s House of Hope (Board President), Partnership 4 Kids (Book/Goal Buddy)

Candidate Responses

What element of the county’s government is most effective, and why?

Maureen Boyle: As a physician, I’m a fan of prevention first, then treatment. It is prudent to spend a few dollars today to save dollars later. The Douglas County Health Department’s WIC program is an example of this. Nutrition and education are provided to pregnant women, infants, and children. The early years are critical in child development. By stimulating growth and learning while young, we set kids up for success. This is not just cost-effective; it is the right thing to do.

Joe DiCostanzo: I feel the emergency management agency has been one of the most effective elements of county government. Government tends to work best with multi-agency coordination, and that is at the heart of the EMA. Activities like public alerts and siren notifications can seem very simple, yet there is much planning that needs to be done. As a high school administrator, I know how to effectively prepare and have prepared large groups of people for many different emergency scenarios.

Josh Henningsen: Douglas County employees are a hardworking and committed workforce. Unfortunately, the county departments they work for are often hampered by the county board’s unwillingness to give them the resources they need to be as effective as possible.

Michael Young: The most efficient system within our county government is our revenue collection system and dissemination of funds for our educational systems. We have much room for improvement though, and it’s time that we take a hard look at what we do well and what we don’t, bringing in a 3rd party to help us evaluate if needed. The issue of Lincoln not taking serious budget constraints to counties and our districts is also a game we can no longer play as we seek to improve our revenue collection efficiency.

What are some ways to provide property tax relief? Are there any services you think should be cut, and if so, why?

Maureen Boyle: First, look at spending. For example, in HR, it is cost effective to minimize turnover for valuable front-line employees like CNAs, nurses, and corrections officers. It’s more economical to keep these workers happy than to replace them. We should have a robust retention program. Second, we could look at more economies of scale between city and county services. Third, due to COVID-19, the county has expanded availability of services online. This can be a new way to do business.

Joe DiCostanzo: The continued increase of property taxes is a complex issue, and if it was an easy fix, our property taxes would be lower. The best way to cap property taxes from the county level would be to have a strong strategic plan that include property tax freezes and seeks for ways to better coordinate resources provided to county citizens. Once the strategic plan is being conducted, then there will be savings that should be passed on through property tax relief.

Josh Henningsen: High property taxes are most often caused by unfunded mandates from the state and federal government. To provide property tax relief, the county board must develop strong relationships with state and federal representatives to advocate for sufficient funding for all new state and federal programs and requirements. The county board can also engage in a more robust strategic planning process to allow more thoughtful investment to maintain infrastructure and provide services more efficiently.

Michael Young: The best way to increase revenue while providing property tax relief in Douglas County is to decrease our inherent cost of operating and be more thoughtful of how to expand margin. One of my 5 Pillars is economic development based on transitoriented design. As Chair of the Transit Authority, I helped execute the 2012 alternative analysis, allowing us to find efficient ways of operating to get better services instead of spending more or cutting essential services. Douglas County can do the same.

What do you see as the three most compelling problems facing your office?

Maureen Boyle: 1. The budget. The board exists as a mandate from the state; so are some county services. Managing the budget can be a challenge when assigned projects you have to pay for. 2. Mental health. Needs are intensifying. Treatment options are scarce. The county is the “provider of last resort” and obligated to meet those needs. 3. Criminal justice. We are not consistently meeting the needs of those “in the system”. Prevention is more efficient than treatment. The question is how do we go about it?

Joe DiCostanzo: Public safety is a top priority. This includes juvenile and adult detention, protecting the public, while ensuring offenders are set up for success after detention. Protecting tax payers by coordinating services to ensure maximum services are being delivered for each dollar being spent by the county. Ensuring Douglas County government is accessible, transparent, and accountable. All county meetings should be moved to the evening and all county business should be accessible online.

Josh Henningsen: The courthouse no longer has sufficient space to accommodate the courtrooms, attorneys, and other court personnel necessary to operate efficiently and provide access to justice. The jail is on the verge of serious overcrowding and understaffing issues. The juvenile justice system is poorly coordinated and provides inadequate community-based services. All three of these problems are symptoms of a larger failure over recent decades to develop and implement plans to address future needs.

Michael Young: The top three issues I see from the County perspective are: economic development, transparency and, most importantly, communication. It is high time our leaders stop restricting the line of communication – from decisions made in executive sessions to bringing in a Communications Director. An example is the lack of cohesive messaging on the COVID-19 response. A Communications Director can take on a role within the County to talk us through both crises and everyday issues we face as a community.

What should the county do to address climate change issues?

Maureen Boyle: Everything possible. We should transition to electric vehicles for the county fleet. Convening with OPPD board members to brainstorm joint projects can be considered. When bidding on projects, preference should be given to contractors proficient in renewable energy. This is a big deal.

Joe DiCostanzo: It is essential to take actionable steps now to create a long-term solution to climate change. A plan should be created to set a target of transitioning to a carbon neutral footprint by all county buildings and operations. An example would be transitioning the county transportation to zero-emission vehicles. The county should also lead in creating a cross-sector alliance, in which entities (public and private) would sign on with goals to reduce their carbon footprint in all their business.

Josh Henningsen: As a member of the Metro Area Planning Agency, the county has an important role in addressing climate change issues. The county can do more to provide more environmentally sound options for recycling and solid waste disposal. The county can also do more to push for a more efficient regional transportation system. The county also needs to be more prepared to handle increasingly likely emergencies like severe weather events and flooding.

Michael Young: Dealing with climate change is a double-edged sword, requiring a double-edged response. We must take a hard look at what are we going to do to ensure the best services possible while also taking responsibility for our planet. We can be efficient with services and still employ better, more eco-friendly practices. On the Transit Authority I helped bring buses running on compressed natural gas to Omaha. This reduced our emissions by almost 1,800 tons of carbon dioxide per year and reduced cost.

2020 Primary Voters’ Guide: Nebraska State Board of Education, District 4

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

Help us share this info! Forward these links to your friends and family. 

Candidates

Jacquelyn Morrison (D):
Website: www.morrisonfor4.com
Occupation: Attorney
Current Public Office, dates held: NA
Past Public Office, dates held: NA
Education: BBA (Accountancy)-The George Washington University, Juris Doctor – Georgetown University
Military Experience: NA
Volunteer Experience: Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) Volunteer, St. Cecilia’s Cathedral Soccer Coach, Member of the Office of Violence Prevention Advisory Board, Former Mentor with Girls Inc Bold Futures Program

Adrian Petrescu (NP):
Website: www.Adrian4NE.com
Occupation:  Professor and Teacher, Legislative Adviser, Diplomat
Current Public Office, dates held: N/A
Past Public Office, dates held: N/A
Education: Doctor of Philosophy, Public Policy (hon), Economics of Science & Technology for Innovation, Univ of Pittsburgh, 2003 Juris Doctor, Creighton Univ, Omaha NE, 2016 Master of Science, Engineering, UPBucharest, Romania, 1989 M.A., Int’l Rel’s, NSPSA, Ro
Military Experience: Yes.
Volunteer Experience: Midtown Neighborhood Alliance (MNA), Omaha NE 2015- Yates Future, #SaveYatesForOmaha, ensuring continuance of Refugee & Immigrants educational programming by OPS, & building repurpose, Nov 2019- Gifford Park Neighborhood OPS & GPNA, EdSpec Comm-2017

Candidate Responses

Do you see this board as being an elected or appointed body? Please explain your reasoning.

Jacquelyn Morrison: The State Board of Education is an elected body per the Nebraska State Constitution. I believe that the board should remain an elected body as it allows each district to vote for the candidate that best represents their district.

Adrian Petrescu: Nebraska State Board of Education is elected. It is very important for Nebraska Dept. of Education to respond to the citizens through representation by an elected board. Democracy is ensured, & the vision of the Nebraska Department of Education, “to lead and support the preparation of all Nebraskans for learning, earning, and living,” can be fulfilled truthfully with equity towards _all_ Nebraskans. Democracy often under-hears those who whisper–e.g. girls in STEM. This board must hear everyone.

What can be done to ensure the safety of students and teachers in our schools?

Jacquelyn Morrison: I believe that safety is an extremely important issue. Within schools we can improve safety by addressing our growing need for behavioral and mental health services. If we are able to address these needs of students, teachers and students will be less exposed to danger. We also have to guard against outside threats to our schools. I think we do this by securing our schools and creating strategic partnerships with local officials and law enforcement.

Adrian Petrescu: Parents must take responsibility to nurture discipline & respect from early on in life of children, & ongoing. Role modes. This way school children will behave better as they had & continue to have a good upbringing in partnership children-schoolsfamilies-communities. Early childhood structured learning opportunities help w/ early socializing among children before they come to school. Attention to diversity & inclusion as in Gifford Park. Training for teachers. Strong gun background checks.

How can the continuing education of teachers be supported?

Jacquelyn Morrison: The continuing education of teachers can be supported through funds specifically dedicated to professional development. As a regular practice, we should continuously survey the needs of teachers, and work with educators to develop course offerings that address those areas of need. Finally, I believe that we have to reward teachers (through raises and promotions) for their efforts so that they know that their efforts are recognized.

Adrian Petrescu: Training & professional development for teachers made available. Lecture/speakers series. Sharing of best practices. NED support for furthering educational opportunities–we did it with establishing partnerships between school district(s) and educational institutions (community colleges and universities and graduate programs), in SE Michigan, in S Texas, in Philadelphia. Peer system of support internally inside ESUs/Schools/Grade/Subject. Support from NSEA and OEA for continuing education. CECs?

2020 Primary Voters’ Guide: Nebraska Unicameral, District 5

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

Help us share this info! Forward these links to your friends and family. 

Candidates

Mike McDonnell (D):
Website: www.votemcdonnell.com
Occupation:  President of the Omaha Federation of Labor AFL-CIO
Current Public Office, dates held: Nebraska State Senator Legislative Dist. 5 January 2017-Present
Past Public Office, dates held: Nebraska State Senator Legislative Dist. 5, January 2017-Present
Education: Masters in Public Administration Bachelors in Criminal Justice Associate Degree in Fire Protection Technology
Military Experience: None
Volunteer Experience: Knights of Columbus Council 10184 Saint Thomas More Festival Committee

Gilbert Ayala (R):  No response received.

Candidate Responses

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

Mike McDonnell: Yes! I would like to adopt a more nonpartisan approach similar to what the State of Iowa has done. We could use a nonpartisan state agency and an outside advisory commission to draw the districts.

How should the problem of prison overcrowding be handled?

Mike McDonnell: Reducing recidivism will reduce overcrowding. I introduced 2 bills this year that will help accomplish this. LB

1096 will be a private public partnership to teach skilled trade classes, to people within 18 months of being released from prison. LB 1097 will double the size of the current young adult court, which is a problem solving court. This court works with people age 18-26 to help with employment and addressing other issues to keep them out of the Nebraska prison system.

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

Mike McDonnell: No!

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

Mike McDonnell: Yes! I believe there should be limits on the amount of money individuals and organizations can spend on political campaigns. Based on not letting an individual or organization have more political influence.

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

Mike McDonnell: Yes! I believe Nebraska workers should receive paid leave to deal with their own serious health conditions, and mothers should receive paid maternity leave following the birth or adoption of a child.

2020 Primary Voters’ Guide: Metropolitan Utilities District of Omaha, Subdivision 4

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

Help us share this info! Forward these links to your friends and family. 

Candidates

Tim Cavanaugh (R):
Occupation: Chief Deputy Treasurer/Retired Omaha Police Captain (25+ years)
Current Public Office, dates held: MUD Board of Directors, 1999-now. Three-time Chairman.
Past Public Office, dates held: above
Education: Ryan High School UNO, C.J/Business Administration Creighton Law School, 1979-80 University of Nebraska Graduate School, MS, C.J./Public Admin Graduate, FBI National Academy
Military Experience: Regretfully, none.
Volunteer Experience: Rotary Club of Omaha, 17 years, past president and Rotary Foundation Board. Paul Harris Fellow, 3 times.

Tom Wurtz (NP):
Occupation: Retired past President MUD
Past Public Office, dates held: None
Education: BA UNL 1971. Juris Doctorate UNL 1974.
Military Experience: None
Volunteer Experience: Knights of Columbus St. Wenceslaus Church. Challenger Alumni Softball (coach) President’s Advisory Council UNL. Catholic Charities Board of Directors. Urban League Board of Directors. Governor’s Water Policy Council. State Energy Policy Council.

Candidate Responses

What factors would you consider when determining rates and rate changes?

Tim Cavanaugh: Number 1 is the abilty for our ratepayer-owners to afford our services. Safety is a major concern, as well as the delivery of clean water and safe gas transmission.

Tom Wurtz: The first duty of a board member is to ensure the district has sufficient revenues to deliver water and natural gas safely to our customers with reasonable rates. I would consider all customer classifications (residential, commercial and manufacturing) to determine if all are treated fairly. We need to retain competent managers and employees, who have an understanding of the complexities involved in the delivery of gas and water to the public. I would also consider the level of customer service.

What are the opportunities to improve efficiency for MUD?

Tim Cavanaugh: I challenged the staff to work toward a two-hour appointment window for service when we implemented GPS on service trucks which allowed for more efficient deployment of service trucks. Also, I pressed for the implementation of online payments. I am very proud of our high bond rating and the high level of funding of the employee’s pension fund.

Tom Wurtz: The most important opportunity for efficiency is to ensure that the district remains a public utility with local control and ownership by our customers. Privatization would result in an immediate 25% increase in rates. More of our construction and field service personnel should report directly to job sites rather than district facilities in order to increase efficiency. Also the district should conduct a study to search for duplication of functions and continue discounted natural gas purchases.

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

Tim Cavanaugh: Ramp up the progress toward water infrastructure replacement within an affordable rate structure.

Tom Wurtz: I will make all committee meetings open to the public. I will solve the water pressure problems in west Omaha, particularly in sub district 4. We need to provide better customer service for our customer owners. We need a comprehensive study of our rate structure to make sure we have an appropriate balance between monthly service charges and commodity costs. We need to conduct a comprehensive study of safety and security programs with emphasis on cyber security.

What effort would you make to meet the goal of increasing the use of renewable energy?

Tim Cavanaugh: MUD delivers natural gas and water. The exploration of methane gas sources (garbage dumpsites) may be worthwhile.

Tom Wurtz: Although natural gas is not technically a renewable fuel source, it is 98% clean burning and better for the environment than other fuels. I will continue to encourage the utilization of natural gas and CNG in cars and trucks. This will reduce our carbon footprint. As past president of MUD, I instituted a program to convert the electrical power source for our regulator stations to solar energy. I would explore the possibilities of converting as much of the electrical usage to solar power.

2020 Primary Voters’ Guide: Douglas County Commissioner, District 1

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

Help us share this info! Forward these links to your friends and family. 

Candidates

Mike Boyle (D):
Website: www.mikeboyle.org
Occupation: Lawyer.
Current Public Office, dates held: County Commissioner
Past Public Office, dates held: Mayor of Omaha
Education: St. Cecilia’s Cathedral High School U.N.O.1963 -1964 Creighton University 1962 – 1973 Creighton University Law School 1974 – 1977
Military Experience: Sole Surviving Son, Gold Star Brother
Volunteer Experience: American Red Cross, Combined Health Agency Drive, Urban League 1963,Holy Name Housing Board 1980 – 2006, Citizens for Educational Freedom, Co-Founder, Omaha 100

Roger Garcia (D):

Website: www.garcia2020.com
Occupation: Nonprofit Executive Director
Current Public Office, dates held: Metro Community College, Board of Governors, 2 terms, 2013 – 2016 and 2017 – 2020
Education: Bachelors in Psychology and Latino/Latin American Studies at UNO – Masters in Public Administration at Bellevue University – Masters in Theological Studies at Iliff School of Theology – Doctorate in Ministry at Willamette University (in Progress)
Volunteer Experience: Co-coordinator for the Nonprofit Executive Institute – Former board member of the Immigrant Legal Center – Former board member of the Women’s Center for Advancement – Former Big Brother/Big Sisters mentor (5 years) – Open Door Mission dinner server

Tonya Ward (D): No response received.

Candidate Responses

What element of the county’s government is most effective, and why?

Mike Boyle: There are many effective operations of County Government. The Douglas County Health Department under the leadership of Adi Pour,Ph.d stands out.. She and her staff are performing, so well. They are disseminating solid, accurate information and coordinating their work with all branches of our Government. Elected Officials, and Department leaders are serving us well, Our dedicated employees make us proud, We serve the Citizens of Douglas County. We are proud to serve.

Roger Garcia:  The Treasurer’s office in recent years has been operating within their budget, has added online and additional payment options for local residents, and successfully passed a bond through a public vote.  Specifically, a few years back, the Treasurer’s office did not accept debit or credit cards and now they do.  This is an example of a County office listening to local residents and adding options that made things easier for taxpayers. County Treasurer John Ewing has been transparent & accessible.

What are some ways to provide property tax relief? Are there any services you think should be cut, and if so, why?

Mike Boyle: No smoke and mirrors to this answer. WE NEED GAMBLING! Let’s start with Sports Gaming. I heard Iowa pulled in $76,000,000,000,00 the first month of Sports Betting. Gambling is legal in almost every State near Nebraska. I serve as co-chair of the Budget Committee with Commissioner P.J. Morgan, Douglas County Finance Director, Joe Lorenz, helps us look for spending cuts wherever possible. But, County Government is an arm of the State. We need to add GAMBLING REVENUE so we can cut property taxes

Roger Garcia: The County Board can stop raising our taxes like they did in 2019.  Considering property valuations have gone up substantially within the last several years, the County is already receiving more tax revenue from those increased tax valuations. As a Commissioner I would cut the new effort to build an approximately 30 million juvenile justice center that is being paid for by bonds that were not approved by voters and none of these funds go toward prevention nor mental health services for youth.

What do you see as the three most compelling problems facing your office?

Mike Boyle: Prison crowding, Mental Health treatment and saving our young people from lives of crime are several important problems facing us. (High property taxes are a BIG PROBLEM, too). We need to enact fair bail relief so persons charged with misdemeanors can get back to work and back to their families. Mental Health care needs to be available to so many suffering neighbors and friends. The terrible crimes our young people are committing is alarming! We must let young people know they matter.

Roger Garcia: We need to engage all stakeholders in juvenile justice and build a strong consensus toward providing evidence-based prevention, intervention, and mental health services for our youth instead of building a new youth detention center that does not allocate funding toward youth programming.  Best practices tell us to focus on the front-end of juvenile justice not the latter end of detention. We also need to address the adult County Jail overcrowding & have a better functioning County Board.

What should the county do to address climate change issues?

Mike Boyle: Our Director of Environmental Services is a leader in his Field. Douglas County has adopted a Model, Low Impact Development Plan that conserves water and is cost effective. It calls for an end for dams that DO NOT stop flooding. DAMS FAIL. OPPD is offering options such as solar and wind generation. These renewable sources are needed. Thank you, OPPD Directors! I represented Douglas County in a Resilient Counties program sponsored by the National Association of Counties. Important lessions.

Roger Garcia:  The County needs to ensure that all new buildings and renovations implement the latest and best practices in environmental sustainability, such as natural and solar lighting. At MCC I sponsored a board policy that made it a priority for all of our buildings and practices to take environmental sustainability into mind and ensure that there is coordination across all of our buildings to ensure system wide efforts in this area. The County should ensure the same across all of its many buildings.