Elections are being held for 26 of the 49 seats in the Nebraska Legislature this year, and the May 15th primary is the first step in narrowing the field of candidates. The race in Lincoln's 29th District provides a good example of a competitive primary that will narrow the field for November.
Photo by Fred Knapp, NET News
District 29 candidates (from left) Kate Bolz, Don Mayhew, Susan Scott, Larry Zimmerman and Mike Smith appear at Lincoln radio station KZUM.
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The latest campaign finance reports for District 29 candidates (as of May 7th), via the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission:
To find campaign finance reports for candidates in other districts, visit the NADC's website.
That still leaves 10 races with three or more hopefuls. In the 29th District, five candidates are vying to represent a area that stretches through south central Lincoln, encompassing everything from modest bungalows to brand-new suburban developments. Unlike some races that are lopsided in terms of financing and support, in District 29, campaign reports show the candidates fairly evenly matched. So the results of the primary here may be a good indicator of the kind of issues voters will be concerned about in the general election this November.
Over a wide-ranging career, Scott has worked in social services, as a management training consultant and as executive director of the YWCA. She's now a substitute teacher. She includes that experience as part of her pitch to voters.
"I think a lot of the things that the Legislature is really responsible for are things that I've actually had some experience in," Scott said. "To me, it has to do with assuring that the most vulnerable people are taken care of that's really important to me. And we have to, at the same time, generate enough income to be able to provide those service."
Scott described herself as socially liberal but fiscally conservative. She opposes the death penalty, supports tax incentives to recruit new businesses but opposes repeal of the inheritance tax, and supports community colleges and the DREAM Act, which gives in-state tuition to children of illegal immigrants. She's a registered Democrat, but in nonpartisan legislative races, that information will not appear on the ballot.
"As the country has been becoming more and more polarized, I think that there are a lot of people like myself in the middle who just kind of feel left out," he said. "Regardless of party registration, I think that there are a lot of people out there who just want their government to work well and are looking for leadership that knows how to get things done." br>
Mayhew said he decided to run after Lincoln lost state school aid last year despite growing by 900 students. He said the aid formula needs to be made more fair, and more resources need to be devoted to schools. To do that, he wants to study other states' experiences with expanded gambling, to see if the benefits outweigh the costs.
"I developed the long-term financial plans for capital improvement programs, for modernization programs, for investment-type programs" while in the Army, he said. "So my mind is set at looking 10 and 15 years down the road to try and develop iterative, long-term solutions to complex problems."
Smith advocated for lower taxes, saving health care costs by emphasizing prevention and investing more in roads and infrastructure.
"I really want to see Nebraska values represented in the Legislature," she said. "I think those values are good stewardship, common sense and focusing on family issues and family values. And I think I can contribute to making education and economic growth and family services the best that they can be."
Bolz said the state can save money by doing things like combining the Departments of Labor and Economic Development. She said that while roads are important, the Legislature may need to revisit its decision to divert part of sales tax revenues to that purpose, in order to have enough for education and other expenses.
Just as voters in District 29 are choosing between these five candidates, voters in the other 25 districts up for election have another 63 to choose from. After the May 15th primary, voters will know who has made the cut to appear on the ballot in November.
Map by Hilary Stohs-Krause, NET News
Click on each legislative district to learn which candidates are running in this year's election.
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