There is concern that ours has become a government of political parties - and not a government of, by and for the people. One viewer writes, I'd like to know what each candidate is going to do to help reduce partisanship and work with the opposite party to get things done in our country.
Q: Do you believe it's possible for Democrats and Republicans to work together efficiently and effectively? And if yes, how would you work to make that happen?
A: Senator George Norris envisioned the non-partisan Unicameral specifically to solve this issue. It has served Nebraska well and is an example which every state could emulate and adopt.
On the national level, partisan politics have been a disaster for the nation since the 2000 election. Compromises worked out by the parties in the l980s and l990s would never be implemented or adopted in the poisoned atmosphere of today's Washington. Yet every individual I visit with about the elections yearns for a time when the parties resolved their differences through compromise.
I will work with everyone, regardless of party, to institute programs which will benefit District 43. It's the paramount duty of every legislator to represent his constituents and not to follow the dictates of his party.
Many Nebraskans tell us the Economy is their #1 concern. They are worried about staying employed or finding work, keeping up with the cost of living, and supporting their families. One viewer simply stated. "If we don't fix the economy, it really doesn't matter what your opinions are on anything else."
Q: How do you propose to improve the U.S. economy and increase the number of jobs for Nebraskans?
A: The US economy dominated the world for over 60 years, but new competition from developing countries like China and India are one of the primary reasons why the US economy has stalled. Consumers are usually prone to purchasing cheaper products if they are of equal value and overseas production of goods is almost always cheaper than US production due to higher wages and benefits in the US.
Nebraska's vibrant agricultural industry has been driving the economy of Nebraska for many years and is one of the reasons why unemployment here is so low. Nebraskans should not take it for granted that our agricultural production will always drive a healthy state economy because many of the South American countries are ramping up cattle and feed production.
Agriculture is Nebraska's #1 industry. With the current proposed Farm Bill in limbo, there is much uncertainty about how it will affect the future of our farmers and ranchers.
Q: What do you believe is holding up a decision on the new Farm Bill and what do you think it will take to get it passed? What is the one thing you would definitely like to see included in or eliminated from the Farm Bill?
A: Over 70% of the money in the Farm Bill is funneled into transfer payments like food stamps. Segments of Congress want to reduce these benefits, while other segments of Congress want to slash perceived subsidy programs to farmers.
Farm State legislators will have to work very hard to institute a farm bill which is favorable to ag interests, since we are outnumbered by a vast majority in the House of Representatives. Good leadership is essential if the ag community is going to see a bill which works for us.
The paramount issue which Nebraska faces is drought and I would like to see drought assistance included in the farm bill for the nation's livestock producers who are bearing the brunt of the current dire climate conditions.
Social Security and Medicare
There has been a lot of talk about a funding crisis for Social Security and Medicare. Several of our viewers/users/followers are concerned about what it will mean for their futures. One woman asked if she could just withdraw what she has put in and take her chances in 25 years.
Q: Is maintaining these programs realistic? If yes, how? If not, what other options would you offer?
A: The nation made a promise to its youth that social security would be there for them if they paid the mandatory payroll tax for their working lives. We cannot break that promise to our seniors.
Federal Healthcare Mandate
It's been called many things: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Obama's Healthcare Plan, and even "ObamaCare". Most agree it has been both controversial and confusing. Even the Supreme Court struggled with the plan's constitutionality.
Q: What is your solution for making certain Nebraskans have quality, affordable healthcare for themselves and their families?
A: We need to establish a Nebraska Health Exchange which will serve the needs of all Nebraskans, rural and urban. Healthcare is particularly challenging in my district and I am concerned that rural Nebraska will be short-changed when the Exchange is developed in January. I intend to make sure that this does not happen.
Civil Rights/Social Issues
Equal Rights, Same Sex Marriage, and the Separation of Church and State are all civil rights issues that tend to inspire strong feelings from those on all sides of the issues.
Q: Do you believe equal rights should be equal for everyone regardless of religion, race or sexual orientation? What is your stance on legalized abortion? How important do you think social issues will be in this election?
A: Yes,I believe that the Constitution guarantees equal rights for all, regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation.
I do not support abortion but would make an exception in the event that the life of the mother would be threatened by carrying the baby to full term.
Economic issues are most on the minds of Nebraskans according to all the interviews I've conducted with my constituents.
One of the most divisive issues in Nebraska is immigration. There are many strong opinions varying from immediate deportation for those here illegally to amnesty for all.
Q: Where do you stand on current immigration policies? Do you favor providing healthcare and other benefits to families who are here illegally?
A: I believe that Nebraska and the United States need to enforce the existing laws on immigration.
I believe that a Christian nation should not deny healthcare to anyone simply because they are in the country illegally. It is our duty to God to look out for those who are less fortunate than we.
More than 300,000 of Nebraska's residents are school-age children. They account for about 16% of the state's total population.
Q: What do you believe are the greatest challenges facing Nebraska's Education System, and how would you work to meet those challenges?
A: In rural Nebraska the most significant problem is funding. In my district over $10 million in state aid has evaporated since 2007. Since costs have not decreased, these monies must be made up through increased property tax. I will fight to redress the state aid formula to bring equity to my constituents.
Nationally, I believe that parents need to be more involved with their child's education. Too many parents expect the teacher to handle the full load. That is not a realistic expectation and is counter to the way most Nebraskans were raised in prior generations.
The controversy over where, or even if, to build the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is primarily centered here in Nebraska. Many believe it's the solution to ending dependence on foreign oil, while others say it's not worth the cost to the environment or their property.
Q: Do you think the pipeline should be built? Why or why not?
A: I support the construction of the pipeline provided the structure is safe and secure and that the company is able to provide a sufficient bond to clean up any spill taking place as it moves through Nebraska.
Special Interest Groups
Many residents have a negative perception about the political influence of Special Interest groups and "big money". They worry many of our elected officials are out of touch with the average citizen. According to the latest census, the median household income in Nebraska is about $49,000 per year, which is lower than the national average.
Q: How would you assure Nebraska's low and middle income families that you have their best interests at heart?
A: I have a long history of representing all my constituents regardless of income in my roll as a school board member. I will be open to the concerns of all residents of the 43rd district in attempting to solve the problems of the district.