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: Nebraska Unicameral, District 39

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

Allison Heimes (D):
Website: www.heimesforlegislature.org
Occupation: Attorney Education: JD, Creighton University School of Law MS, Creighton University BA, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Military Experience: Military Spouse
Volunteer Experience: Foodbank of the Heartland, Big Brothers Big Sisters, The Kim Foundation, Attorney of the Day for immigrant kids, etc.

Lou Ann Linehan (R):

Website: www.LinehanforLegislature.com
Occupation: State Senator
Current Public Office, dates held: State Senator, Legislative District 39 including Elkhorn, Valley, Waterloo and portions of Millard and West Omaha, elected 2016; chair, Legislature’s Revenue Committee, elected 2019
Past Public Office, dates held: none
Education: attended University of NebraskaLincoln and University of Nebraska at Omaha; Lewiston (Nebraska) High School
Military Experience: None/ While working for the U.S. Department of State, Lou Ann was assigned to Iraq several times between 2008 and 2012 where she worked closely with the U.S. Military.
Volunteer Experience: St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Elkhorn; Women’s Center for Advancement of Omaha, 2014 Distinguished Honoree; City Charter Review; Cable Television Board; past president, Meyer Board Auxiliary; treasurer, Parent Teacher Assoc; CCD education teacher

Candidate Responses

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

Allison Heimes: We need to use algorithmically derived district remapping that optimizes the creation of new districts based on equal numbers of voters and compactness and avoid the anti-democratic practice of gerrymandering.

Lou Ann Linehan: Redistricting is a specific and clear duty of Nebraska’s non-partisan Unicameral Legislature. In fact, Article III Section 5 of Nebraska’s State Constitution explicitly places this authority with the Legislature with the following sentence: The Legislature shall redistrict the state after each federal decennial census. I do not support delegating this duty outside the Legislature where the State Constitution clearly and appropriately places this authority.

How should the problem of prison overcrowding be handled?

Allison Heimes: Is the primary function of prison to punish individuals for misdeeds or is it to rehabilitate people who have taken a wrong turn in life? I believe prison’s primary function is to rehabilitate individuals so that they can rejoin society. Thus, we need to create rehabilitative programs and provide mental health treatment to inmates. We can limit the amount of people in prison for nonviolent drug offense and offenses related to mental illness if we address the root causes of criminal behavior.

Lou Ann Linehan: The solution is more beds and adequate programming for inmates who will re-enter society after prison. In the last two years more beds have been added including a 100 bed dormitory and a 160-bed work-release facility for women. One hundred beds are under construction at the State Penitentiary, and work has begun on a 64-bed facility for elderly and mentally ill inmates. The Legislature has also approved 384 more beds at the Lincoln Correctional Center for the state’s worst-behaving inmates.

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

Allison Heimes: No, there should not be any barriers to voting. It is my opinion, that in addition to no voter ID laws, election day should be a national holiday so that everyone can participate in their civic duty.

Lou Ann Linehan: According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, as of December 31, 2019 a total of 36 states have laws requesting or requiring voters to show some form of identification. Voter identification laws are intended to prevent in-person voter impersonation and increase confidence in the election process, and I agree with those objectives. However, these laws cannot infringe on individual voter rights or serve as a discriminatory poll tax so they must be implemented carefully.

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

Allison Heimes: We need campaign finance reform. I have many ideas on this matter, but to keep my answer brief and to the point, we need to have a ceiling on how much money can be raised total. Ceilings would prevent incumbents from being able to out-raise challengers before it’s even an election year, they would prevent big companies and millionaires from being able to buy elections, and it would even the playing field for candidates who aren’t wealthy, but who truly want to advocate for their districts.

Lou Ann Linehan: Nebraska candidates disclose all contributions and expenses over $250 and non-individuals, including corporations, also report contributions in excess of $250. These requirements provide transparency for how campaigns are funded. Adding restrictions on campaign contributions increases the likelihood contributions will end up in dark money organizations which lack any transparency. Consequently, I oppose more restrictions which would increase unregulated, unaccountable campaign spending.

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

Allison Heimes: The healthcare system we currently have is not ideal. It is difficult to find affordable insurance, hospitals bill high amounts for basic treatments, and few employers offer paid sick leave, so when an individual gets sick it is catastrophic for a family. Medical emergencies bankrupt families. We need to offer a parachute for suffering families. If your reasons for running for office don’t include taking care of your constituents and their families, then you aren’t running for the right reasons

Lou Ann Linehan: Many large employers offer paid family medical leave and I applaud them for choosing to do so. What many employers have found is that in order to compete for employees they need to offer an attractive benefits package including things like paid family medical leave. However, many smaller employers can find it cost prohibitive to offer this benefit and I don’t support imposing a mandate that would hurt small businesses which are the backbone of our state’s economy.

Go Vote, Omaha: 2020 Census in Nebraska

In this episode of Go Vote, Omaha!, MaryLee Moulton and Lila Franciscony talk to Hannah Young and Heather Engdahl about the 2020 Census and Nebraska’s effort, Census Counts. Hannah is the Public Policy and Strategic Partnership Manager with the NonProfit Association of the Midlands and Heather is the Census Director of Nebraska Counts with Civic Nebraska.

For more information about the census and how you can get involved, go to the Nebraska Counts website at nebraskacounts.org.

Go Vote Omaha! is our locally produced informational television program. Watch Go Vote Omaha at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday nights on Cox channel 22 or CenturyLink channel 89 or anytime on YouTube. You can also listen to these episodes as podcasts on Podbean.

Douglas and Sarpy Counties Looking for Poll Workers – Sign Up by Jan. 28

The Election Commission in Douglas and Sarpy Counties need poll workers to sign up by January 28 for the Primary election, Tuesday May 12. You are paid minimum wage to attend a training plus work the polls from 7 am to 8:30 pm!

There are Quick Links on the Sarpy & Douglas County election commission home pages that contain the signup & information on being a poll worker:
 
DOUGLAS COUNTY
 
SARPY COUNTY LINK
 
P.S.  You will work hard that day, but if interested, your wage could be donated to the League to help us Make Democracy Work!  Recent changes in the law allow the Election Commission to remit all pay to Non-profit organizations without tax consequences to the person who does the work.

2020 Election Deadlines

Courtesy of the Nebraska Civic Engagement Table, here are the upcoming 2020 primary and general election deadlines. Printable version: 2020 Election Deadlines.

Primary Election

Deadlines to Register to Vote

Mail-in, motor vehicle offices, state agencies, and online: April 24, 2020
In-person voter registration at County Election Offices: May 1, 2020 at 6 PM

Deadlines for Early Voting

Last Day to request Vote By Mail ballots: May 1, 2020
Last Day to Mail in Vote By Mail: May 8, 2020
Last Day to Turn in Vote By Mail at the Election Commissioner or Dropboxes: May 12, 2020 at 8 PM
Last Day to Vote in Person Early at the Election Commissioner for the Primary Election: May 11, 2020
Early Voting by Mail starts April 7
Early Voting in Person starts April 12  

Primary Election Day – May 12, 2020

General Election Deadlines

Deadlines to Register to Vote

Mail-in, motor vehicle offices, state agencies, and online: October 16, 2020
In-person voter registration at County Election Offices: October 20, 2020 at 6 PM

Deadlines for Early Voting

Last Day to request Vote By Mail ballots: October 23, 2020
Last Day to Mail in Vote By Mail: October 30, 2020
Last Day to Turn in Vote By Mail at the Election Commissioner or Dropboxes: November 3, 2020 at 8 PM CST
Last Day to Vote in Person Early at the Election Commissioner: November 2, 2020
Early Voting by Mail starts September 29, 2020
Early Voting in Person starts October 4, 2020

General Election Day – November 3, 2020

Download the 2018 Douglas County Voters’ Guide

Download and read the 2018 voters’ guide here: General Election Voters’ Guide.

You can print, save and share this nonpartisan guide to the Nov. 6, 2018 election.

Haga clic aquí para la Elección General del Estado de la Guía de Votantes del Condado de Douglas.