Nebraska National guardsman Joseph Couch running in Legislative District 21 primary

Published: Apr. 13, 2020 at 3:39 PM CDT
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The following responses have not been edited
Name (also include name you’d prefer to be called):

Joseph Couch

Preferred political party:


Current or most recent profession:

I am a soldier in the Nebraska National Guard and I've been a retail worker most recently at Lincoln True Value.

Tell us a little about yourself:

I studied mathematics at Doane College; I'm the fourth of five children in my family; I'm a bisexual atheist, and I like to play chess.

Why are you running for this office?

I was listening to the Revenue Committee hearing last year when the entire committee laughed at the prospect of Nebraskans eating less food. The callousness in the face of food insecurity drove me to this race. Our representatives are out of touch and scientifically illiterate.

Do you support the actions taken by federal, state and local government officials to combat the spread of COVID-19? What, if any, changes would you propose?

Nebraska needs a stay at home order as soon as possible. We've known for months that COVID-19 has a long incubation period which lets people transmit the virus without knowing.

What is your message to the people of this district and all Nebraskans during this time of crisis?

Look for the helpers and listen. But also, this should be manageable, we have the tools. If we had paid sick and family leave, if we had universal healthcare, if it weren't the case that 40% of Americans can't afford a $400 emergency this wouldn't be the same disaster.

How will you support the economy now and after social distancing requirements end?

Now is when we see just how essential the minimum wage retail workers are. The working class deserves a tax break and workers making $30k shouldn't be in the same tax bracket as Warren Buffet.

But part of the economic issue we're facing is due to Russia and Saudi Arabia messing with oil prices. In a global economy, there will always be that risk, but we don't need to be dependent on this market when we should be investing in carbon-free energy.

What other issues facing voters are most important to you as a candidate?

Nebraska voters, and members of the legislature like to pretend to be nonpartisan. The legislature obviously isn't, and that means the voters can't actually voice theirs. The way we currently vote will always result in two factions vying for power, that needs to change. STAR voting, score then automatic runoff, lets voters rank their choices in a fair and honest way that more accurately voices their opinion.

Why do you consider yourself the best person to address the needs of voters in your legislative district?

I don't know that I'm the best person, I just believe I'm the best one who stepped up. Everyone has a unique and important voice to offer. Mine is one that understands how to use science and problem-solving.

How has your experience prepared you for this job?

Every senator I've talked to said there's no way to be prepared for the job. So all I need to be prepared is the courage to stand for what I believe in, the humility to admit when I'm wrong, and confidence in myself when I'm right. I'm the candidate who suffers from depression, the candidate who knows what it's like to have sleep for dinner, and I'm the candidate with experience working paycheck to paycheck. I may not have experience in law or debate, but I know empathy and will work tirelessly to prevent suffering.

What separates you from your primary challenger(s)? What about your potential general election challenger?

I am the candidate who knows the struggle of feeding my family and keeping them healthy. I know what it's like to be buried in student debt and not have health insurance. I know what it's like to be hungry with no hope in the future. I don't want that for myself, my family, or any Nebraskan. I wouldn't be in this race if I believed the same for my opponents.

Is there any other message, statement or concern you’d like to address?

Climate Change will be the defining issue of our time. It and so many real issues never see action because partisan politics doesn't care about truth, it cares about power. To change the power in politics we need to change money's role in politics and give the voters real choice with ranked-choice voting. Visit for more.

Find your Nebraska Legislative District here.

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