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Editorial: Biden, Sasse, Bacon, Bolz are among our 2020 endorsements

Editorial: Biden, Sasse, Bacon, Bolz are among our 2020 endorsements


Just two days away now. That’s certainly a big relief for the many Nebraskans wearied by this seemingly endless election season.

Below are our endorsements for this year. As we have noted previously, some of the contests — for the Legislature, Douglas County Board and the Omaha Public Schools board — stand out for having two capable, qualified competitors in a win-win situation for voters in those districts. It’s encouraging to see Nebraskans of such depth step forward to serve.

» Joe Biden, president. It’s time to end the pettiness and recklessness of the past four years and turn the presidency toward a responsible attitude, stability and broader outreach.

» Sen. Ben Sasse. He is a highly knowledgeable and capable Nebraskan who makes sound points about constitutional government and market economics.

» Rep. Don Bacon, 2nd District. As a member of the bipartisan Problems Solvers group in the House, Bacon strikes the right message of balanced approaches and cross-party cooperation, citing numerous examples.

» Kate Bolz, 1st U.S. House District. Bolz has demonstrated tremendous leadership and sound judgment in the Nebraska Legislature. Voters have an important opportunity to select Bolz, whose strong, capable service shows she would make a dynamic, effective advocate for the 1st District.

» Maureen Boyle, Douglas County Board, District 5. Boyle, a physician, speaks well to local public health issues and emphasizes the need for fiscal discipline.

» Mike Friend, Douglas County Board, District 7. Friend, a former state senator, developed a wide-ranging understanding of local government issues in chairing the Legislature’s Urban Affairs Committee and serving on the Revenue Committee.

» Ricky Smith, OPS Board, Subdistrict 1. Smith, the director of Omaha 360, an anti-crime community collaborative, was appointed to the board in 2018. A former OPS coach, he emphasizes helping students catch up academically in the wake of the COVID complications. He points to his accessibility to the public.

» Nick Thielen, OPS Board, Subdistrict 3. Thielen is an attorney who demonstrates a solid understanding of OPS issues. His service with child advocacy organizations, including the Foster Care Review Board, gives him insight into the social challenges facing many OPS students and households. He does an excellent job describing the district’s need to strengthen career readiness, plus the importance of greater transparency for board decision-making.

» Jane Erdenberger, OPS Board, Subdistrict 7. Erdenberger combines a professional understanding of government finance (she was a public finance bond lawyer in Omaha for 22 years) with direct OPS teaching experience (she was a teacher at North High School for 16 years). Her deep understanding of finance is especially valuable for OPS as it continues to work through its pension fund challenges.

» State Sen. Carol Blood, District 3. Blood shows impressive energy, participating strongly in committee work and floor debate. She has deep community roots and has vigorously stood up for her district’s interests.

» State Sen. Mike McDonnell, District 5. McDonnell is an independent thinker who does an outstanding job working with lawmakers across lines of party and ideology.

» State Sen. Tony Vargas, District 7. Vargas is a thoughtful lawmaker who has been a leader in helping the Legislature understand issues of social justice. As chairman of the Legislature’s Planning Committee, he shows an impressive understanding of his district’s and Nebraska’s long-term needs.

» Marque Snow, District 9. Snow, the president of the Omaha Public Schools board, speaks confidently and in detail about a wide range of Nebraska issues. He has devoted much energy to understanding legislative matters. Snow points to his OPS leadership in describing his ability to work constructively with others.

» Terrell McKinney, District 11. McKinney, has coached wrestling at Omaha North High School, has focused on community hunger issues for the Nebraska Appleseed advocacy group and is studying law at Creighton. He knows North Omaha well and speaks knowledgeably on issues such as juvenile justice, education and housing. McKinney stands out for his keen attention to economic development concerns.

» Rich Pahls, District 31. Pahls has represented the district previously at the Legislature, chairing the Legislature’s Banking Committee. He currently is a member of the Omaha City Council, where he has shown great energy and independent-mindedness, qualities of value for service as a state senator.

» State Sen. Lou Ann Linehan, District 39. Linehan is an exceptionally hardworking state senator with a firm understanding of state government revenue issues.

» Rita Sanders, District 45. Sanders showed impressive leadership and dedication as mayor of Bellevue, indicating her capabilities for effective service in the Legislature.

» Jen Day, District 49. Day, a small business owner, stands out in many ways. She expresses balanced views and emphasizes the need for consensus-building in a Legislature too often marked by political ill will. She has done extensive work to prepare herself for service at the Capitol. She is a serious-minded Nebraskan who would be an enthusiastic, informed advocate for the area’s school districts.

» FOR Initiative 428, the payday lending proposal. The measure, capping the annual interest rate on cash advances to 36%, is fully justified.

» FOR Initiatives 429, 430 and 431, legalizing casinos. Casinos in next-door Iowa draw great participation by Nebraskans. It’s appropriate for Nebraska to capture some of that revenue for real needs here.

» FOR Amendment 1, relating to a slavery provision in the Nebraska Constitution. The section allows slavery as punishment for a crime, and some states used a similar measure to justify convict leasing. It’s the 21st century — the provision needs to go.

» FOR Amendment 2, a measure aiming to help Nebraska’s low-income areas. This is a practical, much-needed proposal that would use tax-increment financing as it was meant to be, to boost economic development in low-income parts of the state.

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