According to the OWH, “Almost every mayoral election in Omaha since 1991 has been decided by fewer than 1,400 votes”… VOICE Omaha’s membership is 1,457. Print out the 2013 VOICE Voter Guide and take it with you to the polls on May 14 – your vote counts and will play a significant role in both the outcome of the election and the future of our city.

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Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

The candidates elected this May will play a huge role in shaping our future. Local elections are extremely critical to our City’s success, and the fact that all Omaha Public School Board seats are open underscores the importance of voting.

VOICE’s steering committee spent the past month digging into these local races, and we are endorsing several candidates. Our VOICE-approved slate is below with a few bullets explaining why we endorse those candidates.

We took this effort very seriously. We did our homework. Our research methodologies varied a bit for each race; they generally included face-to-face interviews, open-ended written response questions, phone interviews, discussions with others knowledgeable of the candidates and the issues, and independent research.

We encourage you to vote for the following candidates:

Mayor: Jim Suttle

Jim Suttle deserves your vote for Mayor. His accomplishments over the last four years are undeniably worthwhile and have moved Omaha in the right direction. When the Mayor took office in 2009, the City faced an extraordinarily difficult financial situation, the national economy had yet to recover, and the flood of 2011 was looming.

Despite the challenges, Mayor Suttle has ensured the City maintained one of the lowest unemployment rates throughout his tenure. Mayor Suttle also put Omaha on firm financial ground by getting the AAA bond rating back. And there’s no question that his leadership during the flood of 2011 helped to prevent a significant disaster.

Mayor Suttle signed the Equal Employment Ordinance into law in 2011. Under his leadership, the City has been a good partner in summer youth workforce development, the affordable housing development in North Omaha, education initiatives, and gang violence intervention. His recent pledge to support a local ban on assault weapons demonstrates his continued level-headed, albeit not always popular, commitment to the safety and vitality of our community.

Mayor Suttle’s opponent, Councilwoman Jean Stothert, is an extremely knowledgeable politician who was able to demonstrate thorough understanding of the issues. Her policies, however, simply don’t align with VOICE’s values. Namely, she voted against the Equal Employment Ordinance in 2011, and while she didn’t indicate she would actively work to repeal it, she still reinforced her opposition to it during our interview.

Her views on urban design, sustainability, and arts and culture also misaligned with ours, and she didn’t mention either South Omaha or North Omaha during our hour long interview; a clear sign that her focus is elsewhere.

If elected, we encourage Mayor Suttle to ensure that his administration expand its level of transparency and improve its ability to meaningfully engage citizens. Furthermore, we would like to see Mayor Suttle refocus efforts on North and South Omaha, two areas that continue to demand attention and resources.

In short, re-electing Mayor Suttle will ensure our city continues to move in a positive, progressive direction; Councilwoman Stothert, if elected, would stop us in our tracks.

Omaha City Council

District 1: Pete Festersen

District 1 has seen strong leadership over the past term in Pete Festersen; leadership the District and city will continue to benefit from over the next four years if re-elected. Festersen has been a strong proponent of Midtown revitalization, leveraging the redevelopment of the Florence, Benson, and Dundee neighborhood business districts. Festersen has also helped facilitate a $300 million redevelopment plan for Crossroads Mall. Furthermore, as chairman of the City Council’s Planning Committee, Festersen supported new environmental and transportation elements to the City’s master plan and is committed to ensuring their implementation. Finally, Festersen exemplified his vision for a fair and inclusive Omaha in his support of the Equal Employment Ordinance.

District 2: Ben Gray

Ben Gray is a strong unifying leader that has moved District 2 forward.  His no nonsense, direct and always-available style promotes action and allows goals to be achieved. Gray has advocated for neighbors to encourage positive development and fought to keep predatory businesses out of his district.  Gray has been on the front lines in the battle against crime and violence.  Perhaps the single boldest move came when he led the initiative to make Omaha equal by introducing the Equal Employment Ordinance. He showed strong leadership, tackling difficult conversations head on and building a broad and diverse coalition of support. This unifying approach is what ultimately got the ordinance passed. Councilman Gray’s vision for a better Omaha, and his ability to work with people to realize that vision, is exactly what our city needs to keep moving forward. District 2 and the city will benefit greatly from continued stable and open leadership we have seen displayed by Gray.

District 3: Chris Jerram

Voice supports the re-election of Chris Jerram for City Council in District 3.  Jerram is outspoken and transparent in the way he performs his work on the City Council.  He supported the Equal Employment Ordinance prohibiting discrimination against LGBT citizens in employment and has worked hard negotiating the revised labor agreement with the Fire Department.  He has been an effective chair of the Public Safety Committee advocating for practical solutions to issues with the Police Department and has overseen difficult public hearings following two highly publicized issues relating to use of force by the Police Department.  He has advocated for the businesses in Midtown, helping to ensure growth and development remains strong in Midtown at both Midtown Crossing and the UNMC campus.  Jerram has been supportive of the redevelopment efforts in downtown, increasing cycling efforts and the Dundee streetscape plans.

District 4: Garry Gernandt

In District 4, VOICE believes the choice to be clear. Re-electing Garry Gernandt aligns with all of VOICE’s values.  In his time on City Council he has advocated and strengthened the voice of South Omaha residents and the entire city.  From advocating for cultural centers like Lauritzen Gardens and the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium to promoting environmental awareness of industrial sites and their redevelopment, he has shown an ability to bring residents, developers, and government together for common sense solutions.  Gernandt also understands the nuances of government’s responsibility on social issues and supports equal access and mobility through his voting for the Equal Employment Ordinance, his advocacy of the work of Habitat for Humanity, and his tireless efforts in the Vinton Street redevelopment.  Gernandt is in step with VOICE’s values at virtually every turn.

Districts 5–7: no endorsements

Despite our best efforts, we are unable to offer endorsements in Districts 5–7. Only two of the six candidates responded to our requests for interviews, which left us in a bit of a pickle. Unfortunately the political election system we’ve created doesn’t afford us an opportunity to learn much about how a candidate will truly govern if elected. Websites don’t get into the level of detail we would prefer, and non-partisan voter guides are often filled with shallow responses.

Omaha Public School Board

District 1:  Yolanda R. Williams

  • Wants to change the current management style of the district to bottom up by allowing individual schools to implement effective processes and then share throughout the district.
  • Wants to build transparency by allowing board members to openly engage with schools to check on processes and progress.

District 2:  Niokia T. Stewart

  • Will ensure that OPS has the proper systems and resources so that teachers can be effective as educators. She believes that teachers need some ability to be creative because not all students learn in the same way.
  • Wants to ensure that all students receive the same quality education regardless of what school they attend.
  • Believes that OPS should have a strategic plan that involves input from all stakeholders.

District 3:  Marian Fey

  • Believes in the full potential of public education and wants OPS to work strategically within its diverse populations to identify the gaps in service which may affect student achievement.
  • Focused on communication challenges between OPS and the community and has worked on new processes that bring a higher level of transparency.
  • Will work with the new superintendent, staff, students, and the community to draft and implement a strong strategic plan that articulates academic and operational goals.
  • Will encourage collaborative initiatives with measurable objectives between the district and all stakeholders.

District 4:  Jill Brown

  • Will use data and research-based practices to improve retention and graduation rates while also addressing institutionalized discrimination that contributes to the achievement gap.
  • Increase opportunities for teachers to develop innovative creative responses to the demands of their job.
  • Advocates for adopting more progressive, substantial early childhood initiatives.

District 5:  Jennifer Tompkins Kirshenbaum

  • Wants more engagement with diverse communities to better serve that OPS’s diverse student population.
  • Will work with teachers to gain a better understanding of their classroom and professional development needs.

District 6:  Matt Scanlan

  • Would expand and promote early childhood development programs.
  • Work to create a culture of cooperation and teamwork between administration and teachers.
  • Believes that diversity within the OPS system is an opportunity for the school system to flourish.
  • Would like more teacher input on proposed programs and would like to have their ideas about what would increase student success.

District 7:  Katie Underwood

  • Wants to have a united board that is focused on high expectations and measurable goals for the district.
  • Would like to provide more support for teachers in high poverty areas and focus on cultural proficiency for all teachers.
  • Would like to have policies that allow for more flexibility in certain situations because some circumstances call for alternative teaching methods.

District 8:  Lacey Merica

  • Wants to increase the openness and transparency of OPS and the school board and how they communicate with stakeholders.
  • Would build stronger community partnerships with nonprofits, the business community, and other educational institutions.
  • Will ensure adequate and equitable distribution of funding and resources across the district. Believes that a formulaic approach may not be the best method because it does not address the diverse populations in each school.

District 9:  Sarah Brumfield

  • Believes that transparency in communicating with stakeholders is important to OPS’s effectiveness.
  • Would like to develop programs that encourage greater parent involvement in the school system.
  • Believes that OPS needs a vocational high school to better serve the needs of students.

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Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

The City of Omaha held a public scoping meeting on November 29, 2012 to gather public input on the S-Curve Area Connectivity Project. Project representatives discussed the need for the project, initial concepts, and criteria that will be used to evaluate solutions for the area.

They have provided the 11 concepts here but we feel more information is needed to accurately provide input and feedback and as of the publish date this information was still not available on the site.

Your comments are welcome to the city through January 6, 2013.

Handouts from the public meeting on 11/29/12 which will provide better contexts to the concepts and options.

Powerpoint with history background of project

Why the project is needed (justification/goals)

Comment Card (English/Spanish)

Here was the initial meeting flyer but please note the date for comment is wrong and the correct date is January 6, 2013.

Contact them directly after reviewing:

Mail: Matt Shimerdla
City of Omaha Public Works Dept.
1819 Farnam St
Omaha, NE 68183


Mail: Matt Shimerdla
City of Omaha Public Works Dept.
1819 Farnam St
Omaha, NE 68183

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News, Transparency

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

It is as organizations and members of this community and state that we are unified in a vision for a democracy where access to our fundamental right to vote is unimpeded and all Nebraskans, regardless of their background and geographic location, have equal access to the polls. The right to vote is fundamental and our state constitution requires that it be unimpeded.

Community groups in Omaha have been working diligently to register and educate voters, encourage higher voter turnout, and highlight the negative impact of recent polling place closures in Douglas County.

The Reader’s recent disclosure of emails from Douglas County Election Commissioner David Phipps and others implicates Mr. Phipps in crafting legislation LB 449 which resulted in the closure of an unprecedented number of polling places this year, created barriers to voting, and caused widespread confusion of voters during the primary and the General Election. The emails also reveal Mr. Phipps and other state leaders joking and reveling about their behind-the-scenes work in the crafting and passage of LB 449. “Evil mastermind behind this operation” is how Mr. Phipps is described in one email.

As a community and a coalition of a cross-section of organizations which promote and defend democracy, we are dismayed about the implications of an election commissioner’s involvement in such legislation.  This would be an affront to our democratic process and an affront to the impartiality and fairness that is expected from public officials holding such positions.

We call upon Nebraska’s elected officials charged with enforcing state election statutes to launch a full and impartial investigation into this matter.

We also call upon the Legislature to bring accountability and impartiality to Nebraska elections by requiring that the office of an election commissioner be an elected one – one that will be held accountable to the people it serves.

Heartland Workers Center
Inclusive Communities
Latino Center of the Midlands
NAACP/Black Men United
Nebraska Appleseed
Nebraskans for Civic Reform
Progressive Research Institute

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The day is upon us. Get out the vote!

VOICE’s endorsements are listed below. There are many areas where we did not endorse any particular candidate or position either due to a candidate running unopposed and/or due to a lack of consensus or information on the issue. Nevertheless, all of our endorsements are found below.

Additionally, you can download a sample ballot HERE.

For President Of The United States
Barack Obama

For United States Senator
Bob Kerrey

For U.S. House of Representatives District Two
John W. Ewing Jr.

For Douglas County Clerk
No Endorsement (Candidate running unopposed)

For Douglas County Commissioner (Districts One, Three, Five and Seven)
No Endorsement (Candidate running unopposed)

For Douglas County Public Defender
No Endorsement (Candidate running unopposed)

For Douglas County Register of Deeds
No Endorsement (Candidate running unopposed)

For Legislature (Districts Five, Seven, Nine, Eleven, Thirteen, Twenty-one, and Thirty-nine)
No Endorsement (Did not research/candidate running unopposed)

For State Board of Education (Districts Two and Four)
No Endorsement (Did not research)

For Board of Regents University of Nebraska District Four
Bob Whitehouse

For Board of Regents University of Nebraska District Eight
Ann Ferlic Ashford

For Board Of Governors Metropolitan Community College (District One, Two, Three and Four)
No Endorsement (Did not research)

For Coordinating Council Learning Community (Districts Two, Four, and Six)
No Endorsement (Did not research)

For Board Of Directors Papio Missouri River Natural Resources District (Subdistrict One)
Scott Japp

For Board Of Directors Papio Missouri River Natural Resources District (Subdistrict Three)
No Endorsement (Neither candidate responded to multiple requests)

For Board Of Directors Papio Missouri River Natural Resources District (Subdistrict Five)
Rich Tesar

For Board Of Directors Papio Missouri River Natural Resources District (Subdistrict Seven)
Jim Powers

For Board Of Directors Papio Missouri River Natural Resources District (Subdistrict Nine)
No Endorsement (Neither candidate responded to multiple requests)

For Board of Directors Omaha Public Power District North Subdivision
No Endorsement

For Board of Directors Omaha Public Power District Metropolitan Subdivision (Vote for Two)
N. P. Sandy Dodge Jr. and George Mills

For Board Member Educational Service Unit Number Two District Six
No Endorsement (Candidate running unopposed)

For Board Member Educational Service Unit Number Three District Two
No Endorsement (Did not research)

For Board Member Educational Service Unit Number Three District Four
No Endorsement (Candidate running unopposed)

For Board Member Educational Service Unit Number Three District Six
No Endorsement (Did not research)

For Board Of Directors Metropolitan Utilities District (Vote for Two)
John S. McCollister and Jim Begley

For Board Of Education Omaha Public Schools Subdistrict Two
Freddie Gray

For Board Of Education Omaha Public Schools Subdistrict Four
Oscar Duran

For Board Of Education Omaha Public Schools Subdistrict Six
No Endorsement (Candidate running unopposed)

For Board Of Education Omaha Public Schools Subdistrict Eight
No Endorsement (Not enough information)

For Board Of Education Omaha Public Schools Subdistrict Ten
No Endorsement (Candidate running unopposed)

For Board Of Education Omaha Public Schools Subdistrict Twelve
Patrick Bourne

Shall Judge James Michael Fitzgerald be retained in office?
No Endorsement (Did not research)

Shall Judge James Michael Fitzgerald be retained in office?
No Endorsement (Did not research)

Shall Judge J Russell Derr be retained in office?
No Endorsement (Did not research)

Shall Judge James T. Gleason be retained in office?
No Endorsement (Did not research)

Shall Judge Thomas A. Otepka be retained in office?
No Endorsement (Did not research)

Shall Judge Leigh Ann Retelsdorf be retained in office?
No Endorsement (Did not research)

Shall Judge Joseph S. Troia be retained in office?
No Endorsement (Did not research)

State Of Nebraska Proposed Amendment No. 1
A constitutional amendment to provide that any misdemeanor while in pursuit of his or her office is grounds for impeachment of a civil officer.
No Endorsement (No Consensus)

State Of Nebraska Proposed Amendment No. 2
A constitutional amendment to establish the right to hunt, to fish, and to harvest wildlife and to state that public hunting, fishing, and harvesting of wildlife shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife.

State Of Nebraska Proposed Amendment No. 3
A constitutional amendment to change the limit on legislative terms to three consecutive terms.

State Of Nebraska Proposed Amendment No. 4
A constitutional amendment to change the salary of members of the Legislature to twenty-two thousand five hundred dollars.

Douglas County Consolidation Of County Offices Election
No Endorsement (Did not research)

The End.

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It is with great concern that we share a recent story that appeared in The Reader about apparent voter suppression efforts in Nebraska. Data shows that Dave Phipps, Douglas County Election Commissioner, was strategic in his elimination of several polling places by targeting poor, minority communities at more than twice the rate of other communities. In some instances during the last primary, citizens living in affordable housing units, many with physical disabilities, were forced to vote in alternate locations even though a polling place was located in their building. For more on Phipps and recent Republican gerrymandering see the story here.

In the meantime, our friends at Nebraskan’s for Civic Reform are keeping a close watch on the polls this coming Tuesday and they need more volunteers to help monitor polling places. Visit for additional information.

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Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

United States House of Representatives

Term: Two Years

Candidates: John Ewing, Lee Terry, Jr.

Why you should care:

- The House has 435 members, with the number of representatives per state dependent upon that state’s population. Nebraska has three representatives in Congress:

1. Jeff Fortenberry (R) represents District 1, which is made up of the eastern one-quarter of Nebraska, except for Omaha, Douglas County, and urban areas of Sarpy County, which makes up District 2.

2. Lee Terry (R) represents District 2, which is made up of all of Omaha and the more populated areas of Sarpy County.

3. Adrian Smith (R) represents District 3, which is made up of the western three-fourths of Nebraska.

- While the Senate’s limited membership may seem like it grants senators more power, the House of Representatives has the power to raise revenue through taxes, making each member and each contested election important.  Also, the House has the power to call for impeachment.

- Lee Terry has been serving Nebraska, District 2 since January 1999.

Who you should vote for:

John Ewing (D)

John Ewing has demonstrated commitment and discipline in his public service.  He had a long and distinguished career as an Omaha Police Officer and has made great strides in creating efficiencies in the work he oversees as Douglas County Treasurer.  As Treasurer, he has operated beneath his final allocated budget each year and reduced the number of employees in the office since the economic downturn in 2008 brought in lower revenues.

He led the committee for United Way of the Midlands that oversaw the distribution of funds to the Von Maur shooting victims efficiently and without problems, which was a significant accomplishment given the scrutiny and sensitivity of such a task. In his campaign, John Ewing has demonstrated an in-depth understanding of national issues and is an advocate of practical, smart solutions to our nation’s problems.

After serving Nebraskans since 1999, Representative Lee Terry should have a lot of legislative accomplishments under his belt.  He has the senior position on the Energy and Commerce Committee and little to show for it.  What’s worse, his campaign this year has been surprisingly bitter and mean-spirited, which is saying a lot in this age of negative attack ads.

Representative Terry grossly overstated the impact of the Hill-Terry legislation and took inaccurate and silly pot shots at John Ewing’s budget management record as Douglas County Treasurer.  The Omaha World-Herald wrote that Representative

Terry’s campaign has been marked by “unseemly behavior for a veteran” Congressional representative.  We agree.  It is time for him to go.

John Ewing has demonstrated that he is a candidate worth electing to Congress from Nebraska’s District 2.

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Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

United States Senate

Term: Six Years

Candidates: Deb Fischer, Bob Kerrey.

Why you should care:
- Each state is represented by two senators serving staggered six-year terms.  Ben Nelson (D) is retiring from the Senate after serving Nebraskans since 2001, and this election will decide his replacement.  Mike Johanns (R) is the other Senator from Nebraska.  Sen. Johanns will be up for reelection in 2014.
- The Senate has the powers by the U.S. Constitution, which include consenting to treaties and confirming appointments of Cabinet secretariesfederal judges, ambassadors, and others.
- Due to the six-year term of a U.S. Senator and Nebraska’s smaller population compared to other states, our Senators may be the most important federally elected official to Nebraskans.

Who you should vote for:

Bob Kerrey (D)

Bob Kerrey has experience — and that matters in this race for U.S. Senate.  He ably served Nebraskans as Governor and U.S. Senator.  As Senator, he worked on the Agriculture and Appropriations Committees, as well as others.  He was known as an effective consensus builder across party lines and a practical thinker. In 1993, Sen. Kerrey famously lashed out on a Clinton-era tax hike proposal questioning whether tax cuts can really solve as many problems as politicians think.

Bob Kerrey is principled and transparent.  He has proven that he will vote to protect the interests of Nebraskans, even when our interests may not align with the party line.  He supports government’s role in health care for those who need help and at the same time advocates for restraint of government in health care and suggests specific, smart reforms to Obamacare.  He will preserve and protect the rights of women and has been a gay marriage advocate for longer than many of us have been alive.  He is a big thinker and a big doer.

In contrast, Deb Fischer is a reliable, lock-step Republican.  She has all but guaranteed that she will follow the Republican Party leaders as far right as they wish to go on any issue, without regard to the interests or opinions of Nebraskans.  Sarah and Todd Palin give her a strong endorsement, another sure sign that she will support and expand the ugly partisan grid lock in Washington if elected.

Deb Fischer has questioned the scientific basis for global warming and has signed the Americans for Prosperity No Climate Tax Pledge, limiting opportunities to address climate change through legislative activity.  Deb Fischer has signed Grover Nordquist’s Americans for Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which limits her choices when trying to solve problems for Nebraskans.

Her campaign has been full of platitudes and broad, miserable generalities, many of which are unworkable or impractical, particularly her support of the Ryan budget and its extreme cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.

Steve Martin, the comedian, captured the essence of this race when he said that Bob Kerrey “is sane and his ideas are workable.”  We agree and support Bob Kerrey for U.S. Senator from Nebraska.

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Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

University of Nebraska Board of Regents

Term: Six Years

Board Size: Eight (plus four non-voting student Regents)


District 4:  Bob Whitehouse and Larry Bradley
District 8:  Ann Ferlic Ashford and Hal Daub

Why you should care:

– A strong university system is essential to the educational, economic, medical and cultural health of Nebraska.

- The Board of Regents supervises the general operations of the university and the control and direction of all expenditures. Their decisions determine whether tuition is affordable and education accessible to students from all backgrounds.

Who you should vote for:

District 4:  Bob Whitehouse (R)

Bob Whitehouse has represented District 4 since 2006, and is a former Chairman of the Board of Regents.  We believe his experience in education, his track record as Regent and forward-thinking views on research and the University’s ability to impact the entire state make him the right representative for District 4.

Mr. Whitehouse has worked in education his entire career, including as a high school principal and as an educational consultant.  He is an advocate for early childhood education in particular and notes the potential for the University of Nebraska to become a leader in this area through the Buffett Early Childhood Education Institute.  He plans to continue to prioritize the work of the Institute if re-elected.

Mr. Whitehouse’s greatest concern while serving on the Board of Regents has been to keep tuition affordable.  He has helped launch new programs for students in need of financial aid including Collegebound Nebraska. He noted that when tuition rates increase, financial aid must increase by an equal or greater percentage.

Mr. Whitehouse has demonstrated his commitment to legislation and university policies that provide equal opportunity to students and staff.  He voted in support of the University of Nebraska’s adoption of an Employee+1 benefits package when Nebraska joined the Big Ten.  Employee+1 extends benefits to domestic partners.  He called the move “the right thing to do” and “a big step forward for our University system”.  He also supports the Dream Act, a legislative bill passed in 2006, which allows undocumented students living in Nebraska to receive in-state tuition at public colleges and universities if they meet certain requirements.  He believes these students can “make a great impact” on Nebraska if given the opportunity.

Mr. Whitehouse has “remained steadfast” in his support of adult and embryonic stem cell research on university campuses to keep the University of Nebraska competitive with other institutions. He believes strongly that research conducted at the University should focus on areas that impact Nebraska and its economy, namely fuel, food and water.  He believes Nebraska can be a world leader in agricultural research.

District 8:  Ann Ferlic Ashford (R)

As a woman, an attorney and a business executive, Ann Ferlic Ashford would bring both diversity and a business perspective to the currently all-male Board of Regents.  We believe her strong focus on keeping rising tuition costs in check, matching curriculum to the job market and innovating to make the University system match the changing world around it make her the right choice to represent District 8 as Regent.

Ms. Ashford believes the most pressing issue facing the Board of Regents is the rising cost of education.  To address rising tuition rates, Ms. Ashford would propose a one year freeze on tuition.  She also believes the University system needs to find waste, eliminate duplication and control and monitor spending.  She feels that the University must “turn ourselves into flexible organizations that can address our students’ needs on a global basis in a more cost effective manner”.

With a background in human resources, Ms. Ashford is focused on matching educational programs with the ever-changing job market to ensure students have opportunities upon graduation.  She also seeks to to increase the number of on-time graduates.

Ms. Ashford is supportive of legislation and university policies that provide equal opportunity to students and staff.  She agrees with the University of Nebraska’s adoption of an Employee+1 benefits package when Nebraska joined the Big Ten.  Employee+1 extends benefits to domestic partners.  She also supports the Dream Act, a legislative bill passed in 2006, which allows undocumented students living in Nebraska to receive in-state tuition at public colleges and universities if they meet certain requirements.  She calls the Dream Act “not only an ethical decision but a fiscally sound one as well”.  Ms. Ashford believes that the State should help students study in Nebraska and remain in Nebraska “to become productive and tax paying individuals, adding exponentially to our State’s financial well being”.  Ms. Ashford has served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Inclusive Communities, an organization committed to confronting prejudice, bigotry and discrimination through educational programs.

Ms. Ashford is supportive of both adult and embryonic stem cell research and is against bringing the issue back for a vote. She is committed to listening to her constituents and making progress as Regent.

To view the unedited Q&A from Bob Whitehouse, Larry Bradley and Ann Ferlic Ashford, click here. (Hal Daub did not submit a response to our request.)

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Engagement & Community Involvement, News, Transparency

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District Board

Term: four years

Board Size: Eleven members represented by subdistricts. Five subdistricts are up for election this year.

Candidates: – District 1: Scott Japp, Chris J. Koenig
- District 3: Brandon Clark, Curt Frost
- District 5: Brad Dunbar, Rich Tesar
- District 7: Patrick Leahy, Jim Powers
- District 9: Patrick Bonnett

Why you should care

- The Papio-Missouri River Natural Resource District Board has a budget of around $87 million, $17 million of which is raised in property taxes.

- It is responsible for natural resource management in a 6 county area, including Douglas and Sarpy counties and counties to our north.

- The Board focuses on flood control, ground and surface water quality, soil erosion, public recreation including trails, and to some extent wildlife.

- It is the organization that often funds the construction of a dam, such as the newly approved 135-acre lake near 126th & Cornhusker Road in Sarpy County.

Subdistrict 1: Scott Japp

- Brings a rural perspective to this Board that guides work in 6 counties, along with experience in soil conservation and construction.

- Japp believes a combination of levees and low impact development (LIDs) should be used for flood protection and more natural stormwater management. He will not support the building of large dams because dams harm the stream environment and habitat.

- Japp says that NRD should not be be a funding source for developers, yet at the present time NRD board aids developers with financial support, engineering and planning.  He also believes more procedures for public input and information sharing are needed, as well as more control of the meeting agenda by individual Board members.

Who you should vote for:

Subdistrict 3 – No endorsement (no response from either candidate)

Subdistrict 5: Rich Tesar

- With twenty years of experience on the NRD Board, Tesar understands the issues the Board addresses.

- Tesar believes water is our most important natural resource in Nebraska and advocates for flood protection and water quality as well as recreational access and trails for the public. He wants to use the ‘newer’ concept of low impact development in some instances when it makes sense.

- Tesar was appointed by the Governor to serve on the state’s Riparian Vegetation Protection Task Force, which worked to clear invasive species from the Platte River.

- See for an extensive website on Tesar’s contributions as part of the NRD Board.

Subdistrict 7: Jim Powers

- Powers is motivated to improve the recreational trails system in the district, and specifically motivated to improve trail maintenance and the maintenance process.

- He has a good sense for environmental issues the NRD Board needs to address and brings support for more natural methods of stormwater management such as bioretention areas, to the Board.

- Powers brings nearly 30 years of professional experience as an attorney to the Board, along with a passion for making a positive impact on the NRD Board.  His ability to easily understand contracts and funding mechanisms will provide the Board with an important perspective.

- See

Subdistrict 9:  No endorsement

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