Voters’ Guide: U.S. House of Representatives, Nebraska 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 Douglas County Voters’ Guide | Find voter information specific to your ballot at vote411.org.

Find your district by looking up your voter registration on the Nebraska Voter Check website.

Candidates for U.S. House of Representatives, Nebraska District 2

Don Bacon (R):  http://www.donjbacon.com.  Current Public Office, dates held: Member of Congress, Nebraska’s

Second District – 01/17 to present.  Past Public Office, dates held: Not a career politician.  Education: Masters in National Security Strategy, Masters in Management, Bachelors in Political Science, and Navigator and Intelligence Schools in Air Force.  Military experience: Nearly 30 years in USAF.  Total of 16 assignments, 5 commands, and 4 deployments to Middle East.  Commanded Offutt Air Force Base, which is NE’s largest employer.  Also commanded Ramstein Air Base.  Helped Israel standup ballistic missile defense.  Volunteer experience: Salvation Army, Youth for Christ, Gideons, Air Force Association, Military Officers Association of America, Boy Scout Merit Badge University Instructor, and Lifespring Church.

Kara Eastman (D):  http://www.eastmanforcongress.com.  Current Public Office, dates held: 2014, elected to the

Metropolitan Community College Board of Governors.  Education: BA in Sociology Pitzer College MSW, Loyola University Chicago.  Volunteer experience: I’ve volunteered in many capacities. Most recently, I served as an appointed member of the Mayor’s Fair Housing Advisory Board, the Board of the Nonprofit Association of the Midlands, and as a volunteer consultant with the nonprofit Aqua-Africa.

U.S. House of Representatives, NE-02 Candidates’ Responses

What would make for a fair immigration system?

Don Bacon: I support keeping families together, but we also need to enforce the laws of our country. I support DACA recipients being allowed to stay in the United States on a conditional basis and work toward their citizenship. In other words, as long as a DACA recipient contributes to society and doesn’t violate the law, they should be welcome to stay and go through the citizenship process like other applicants. However, we absolutely cannot do DACA again. Therefore, we need to strengthen our border security, update our immigration laws, and ensure our existing laws are followed. I support a merit-based immigration policy going forward with priority given to people who possess a specialized skillset, a high level of education, and fill needed positions that otherwise can’t be filled.

Kara Eastman: A fair immigration system ensures fundamental human rights and protects our democracy. The administration’s haphazard and unethical policies show that we need strong, clear immigration legislation, like the bipartisan Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013. I absolutely support maintaining Temporary Protected Status orders for immigrants. Dreamers should never be deported. We have to put an end to the DACA debate and allow Dreamers to become citizens.

What, if any, changes would you recommend for “sensible gun control”?

Don Bacon: I have spent almost my entire adult life defending the freedoms Americans enjoy and one of those freedoms is protected by our Second Amendment. I don’t believe that we need more gun control; however, we do need to do a better job enforcing existing laws.  We need to better defend our schools and do a better job keeping guns out of hands of dangerous individuals.  I am currently leading a task force in Congress to look at ways to prevent school shootings and I co-sponsored the recently passed STOP School Violence Act (HR 4909) and the Secure our Schools Act (SOS).  We can and should work together to prevent more tragedies like the Parkland school shooting without infringing on law abiding Americans’ Constitutional rights, and that’s exactly what I’m doing.

Kara Eastman: We must pass universal background check legislation (like Manchin-Toomey, 2013) in addition to banning the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Congress must pass honest gun legislation to prevent school shootings and an epidemic of violence in our country. The minimum purchase age must be raised to 21, mandatory waiting periods should be enacted, and background checks must be enforced, including at gun shows.

What, if anything, should Congress do to protect the U.S. voting system from foreign influence?

Don Bacon: Election integrity is foundational to our Constitutional Republic form of government. As such, politics should be removed from this entire issue; this shouldn’t be an “us vs them” topic on either side of the political spectrum. I spent much of my military career in electronic warfare and intelligence, and I’m heavily involved in these discussions in Congress. We are working to ensure that election interference becomes more difficult for foreign powers. One of these steps is increasing funding to strengthen our cyber defense, which is one of the items in the NDAA that I helped write. The best tool to prevent foreign influence in our elections is the American citizen. The Russian goal has been to divide us and to widen our existing partisan divide. We don’t have to give in to the anger, vitriol, and hate. Instead, we can remain civil and stop attacking one another. This helps ensure the division our adversaries are trying to achieve never happens. I support the sanctions against Russia.

Kara Eastman: Currently, we are all concerned about our voting system being hacked. We must focus on diplomatic efforts and cooperation with our allies to ensure hostile powers like Russia do not interfere with our elections. Congress must invest more in the technology and innovation already within our reach to secure our country and its election system.

Voters’ Guide: Learning Community Coordinating Council

Together with school districts and community organizations as partners, (the Learning Community group) demonstrate, share and implement more effective practices to measurably improve educational outcomes for children and families in poverty. — from the Learning Community’s website

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 Douglas County Voters’ Guide | Find voter information specific to your ballot at vote411.org.

Find your district by looking up your voter registration on the Nebraska Voter Check website.

Learning Community Coordinating Council, District 1

Bradley Ekwerekwu (D):  No response received.

Brian Thommes (D):  No response received.

Candidates for Learning Community Coordinating Council, District 3

Mark Hoeger (D):   No response received.

Melinda Kozel (D):  http://votekozel.com.  Current Public Office, dates held: n/a.  Past Public Office, dates held: n/a.  Education: BA-Art History, Univ of Nebraska at Omaha;  MA-Ed-Arts Education, Univ of Nebraska at Kearney.  Military experience: n/a.  Volunteer experience: Dog Walker, Nebraska Humane Society;  Visual Arts Chair, Omaha Entertainment & Arts Awards;  The Shakespeare Collective.

Learning Community Coordinating Council, District 3, Candidates’ Responses

How do you envision the future of the Learning Community?

Mark Hoeger:  No response received.

Melinda Kozel:  I see the Learning Community as a support structure to all of our school districts. The Learning Community is able to generate funds, develop partnerships, and implement programs and staff in a way that is more efficient, cost-effective, and consistent than districts would be able to do on their own. Because of this, the effort to close gaps in educational access, well-being, and performance can be given the attention it deserves.

In your own words, what is the mission of the Learning Community?

Mark Hoeger:  No response received.

Melinda Kozel:  The Learning Community is showing positive results of the work it is doing and proving the necessity of an outside entity to support schools and neighborhoods. I see this becoming more evident each year. I can also see it proving as a working model for the rest of the Nebraska. Tackling the gaps in access and achievement throughout the state is a growing concern and the ability to replicate this idea could greatly benefit us as a state.

How can the Learning Community improve outcomes for all students?

Mark Hoeger:  No response received.

Melinda Kozel:  It is our responsibility to acknowledge barriers that prevent students from having a positive and productive experience and seek out resources or methods that can alleviate those disruptions. We need to make sure that schools are a place where every single student feels safe, acknowledged, supported and inspired no matter their race, religion, country of origin, sexual orientation, gender expression, economic experience or level of ability and uplift teachers & families to support them.

If elected, what two things do you hope to have accomplished by the end of your first year?

Mark Hoeger:  No response received.

Melinda Kozel:  I would like to explore ways of incorporating mental health related programs throughout the city. Students should have consistent access to counselors, their families to systems of support, and teachers to resources to better equip them as well as offer support.  I would also like to explore the possibility of opening a center in or near Subcouncil 3 to benefit families and students that need safe and reliable access to programs and resources and facilitate collaboration with nearby schools.

Candidates for Learning Community Coordinating Council, District 5

Anayeli Martinez Real (D):  http://AnayeliReal.com.  Current Public Office, dates held: N/A.  Past Public Office, dates held: N/A.  Education: Bachelor of Science in Construction Engineering.  Military experience: N/A.  Volunteer experience: Since 2016 I have been a Circle Program Career Coach for middle school girls through Civic Nebraska. Since 2015 I have worked with small business entrepreneurs as a Volunteer Instructor for the Business & Contractor Academy at Metropolitan Community

Erik O Servellon (D):  Web Site: http://erikserves.com.  Current Public Office, dates held: None.  Past Public Office, dates held: None.  Education: Bachelor of Art, Political Science, 2013, UNO;  Master of Public Administration, 2016, UNO.  Military experience: 10 Years Service Nebraska Army National Guard, 2016-2017 Deployment to Afghanistan as a Flight Medic Sergeant, 2017 Mobilization to Texas for Hurricane Harvey response.  Volunteer experience: President, Metro Young Latino Professionals Association; Board Member, Eastern Nebraska Community Action Partnership; Board Member, UNO Military Alumni Group; 2018 Fellow, New Leaders Council Omaha; Board Member, Mayor’s Millennial Advisory Committee

Tonya Ward (D):  No response received.

Learning Community Coordinating Council, District 5, Candidates’ Responses

How do you envision the future of the Learning Community?

Anayeli Martinez Real:  The Learning Community is an organization with endless opportunities to help mold the future of the youth in our community. I envision the Learning Community becoming the organization that will help students not only improve education from K-12 but also make sure kids find successful and rewarding careers post k12. This will not only change outcome of kids involved in Learning Community programs but also improve lifestyle of generations to come.

Erik O Servellon:  I envision the Learning Community as another pillar of the strong public education system in Nebraska.  Exporting best practices for pedagogy, early childhood education, and family learning all the while being a go-to resource for area students, parents, and teachers. The Learning Community of the future will no longer be a political issue – but instead a testament to many sides coming together to solve the age-old issue of the educational achievement gap.

Tonya Ward:  No response received.

In your own words, what is the mission of the Learning Community?

Anayeli Martinez Real: The Learning Communities mission is to be an organization that partners with existing community organizations and school districts to close the education gap for children and families in poverty. The mission is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely which is important to assure tax payers dollars are being spent wisely.

Erik O Servellon:  The mission of the Learning Community is to close the achievement gap in students throughout Douglas and Sarpy County school districts.  Through early childhood education, family learning, and teacher development programs, the Learning Community uses a comprehensive, holistic approach to set parents, teachers, and most importantly, students, on the road to success.

Tonya Ward:  No response received.

How can the Learning Community improve outcomes for all students?

Anayeli Martinez Real: The Learning Community is spending their resources to help kids in poverty close the education gap. If elected I will promote an investment in low-performing students to help close the education gap. A big part of my focus will be to increase outreach to parents to involve them with the education of their youth. More engaged families mean more engaged students.

Erik O Servellon:  The Learning Community can show school districts that core programs are producing measurable results.  One such example is an early childhood program that has shown to close the achievement gap in K-3 students, as compared to students who are not in the program.  The Learning Community is an organization that can try programs at a smaller scale (thus less risk), show that they work (or don’t), and export best practices or lessons learned to area districts for implementation.

Tonya Ward:  No response received.

If elected, what two things do you hope to have accomplished by the end of your first year?

Anayeli Martinez Real: I will help Learning Community expand their focus on higher education preparation and career education programs. This investment will help develop long term goals for teenagers and young adults that will help our community prosper. Another goal will be to help finalize the Community Achievement Plan, specifically the portion focused on preparing students for a successful career.  I will help increase collaboration between residents, districts, and the learning community. I will encourage public

Erik O Servellon:  When elected, I hope to develop a stronger relationship between the Learning Community and local. state, and federal elected officials.  The Learning Community is a hidden gem that is underappreciated – simply getting elected officials in the door of a Learning Community center would show them the immense public good that the L.C. is providing.  Additionally, I hope to build stronger public-private relationships, leveraging Omaha’s remarkable philanthropic community to elevate the L.C.

Tonya Ward:  No response received.

Join Us Oct. 18 for the 2018 Second Congressional District of Nebraska Debate

Join the League of Women Voters and the Omaha Press Club for a debate between the two candidates for Nebraska’s second congressional district, Republican Don Bacon and Democrat Kara Eastman. 

The two candidates will debate the issues from 12 to 1 p.m. on Oct. 18 at the Omaha Press Club. The debate is sponsored by the Press Club and the League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha and is open to the public.

Bacon retired in 2015 from the U.S. Air Force as Brigadier General and is seeking his second term in Congress. He serves on the House Agriculture Committee, the House Committee on Homeland Security, and House Armed Service Committee.

Eastman came to Omaha in 2006 and started Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance, a nonprofit organization that aims to protect children from lead poisoning and other environmental hazards. She is also a member of the board of Metropolitan Community College.

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2018: NOON TO 1 P.M.

Service begins at 11:30 a.m.

Debate begins promptly at noon

$17 per person includes lunch

Call 402-345-8008 for reservations or email Jeanie at jeaniec@opc.omhcoxmail.com

48-hour cancellation policy

NON-PRESS CLUB MEMBERS WELCOME

Validated parking in the Doubletree Hotel garage for members

The Omaha Press Club

22nd floor-First National Center

1620 Dodge St., Omaha

NE-02 Debate Scheduled for Oct. 18

The League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha and the Omaha Press Club will be hosting a debate between candidates for Nebraska’s second Congressional district, Don Bacon and Kara Eastman, at 12 p.m. on Oct. 18, 2018.

The event will be recorded by WOWT Channel Six and aired on several platforms it has available.

Stay tuned to news from LWVGO for more details closer to the date of the event.