It was a full house at the First UMC Commons on October 6.  OTOC leaders Mark Hoeger of Augustana Lutheran and Sarita Penka of St. Leo the Great chaired a 95 minute Candidate Accountability Session with a candidate for Lt. Governor and 6 candidates for the Nebraska Unicameral. OTOC Action Teams made short presentations and told personal stories about 5 issues and then ask candidates to commit to:


Assure Health Care coverage for all Nebraska families

Improve Mental Health Care delivery to those who need it

Make Driver’s Licenses available to immigrants qualified under federal law

– Begin dealing with climate change in Nebraska

– Increase State share of Public Education costs to reduce local property taxes

The Omaha World Herald Story on October 7 reported on the session as follows:

OTOC candidates’ forum explores views on Medicaid, driver’s licenses for immigrant kids

 Tuesday, October 7, 2014 1:00 am By Alia Conley / World-Herald staff writer

Six candidates for the Nebraska Legislature and one contender for lieutenant governor spoke to a packed room Monday night at a forum sponsored by Omaha Together One Community at First United Methodist Church.

The candidates talked about five topics: Medicaid, mental health, driver’s licenses for immigrant children illegally brought to the United States by their parents, climate change and public education funding.

Nearly 200 people attended to hear each candidate talk one minute on each issue.

Only legislative District 8 was represented by both candidates.

Gwenn Aspen, a property manager, will face Burke Harr, a former criminal prosecutor and an incumbent who has served four years in the Legislature. Aspen is a Republican and Harr is a Democrat, but the Legislature is officially nonpartisan.

In the primary election on May 13, Aspen edged out Harr, receiving 2,091 votes to Harr’s 2,001.

Both candidates for lieutenant governor were expected to attend, but State Auditor Mike Foley, who is the running mate of Republican candidate Pete Ricketts, had a last-minute obligation, Ricketts’ organization said in an email.

Jane Raybould, a Lancaster County Board member and Democratic candidate Chuck Hassebrook’s running mate, spoke for their ticket at the forum.

Other legislative candidates attending were Stacy Ryan, John Stalnaker, Greg Hosch and Matt Lathrop.

None is an incumbent.

On Medicaid expansion and reform, all candidates said they want to help people who fall through the cracks. Aspen said she doesn’t want Medicaid expenses to siphon money from education, while Harr said he would continue to work with the organization to expand Medicaid.

All candidates except Ryan said they favor giving driver’s licenses to immigrant children who arrived illegally with their parents years ago but now have temporary legal status.

Nebraska is the only state that doesn’t allow driver’s licenses in such cases.

Omaha Together One Community is nonpartisan and doesn’t endorse candidates.


“The questions are geared at candidates, asking ‘Will you work with us on making improvements?’ ” said Carol Beaty, a member of the organization.

Hassebrook appeared at the end of the session and was introduced to applause.



OTOC leaders appreciate the willingness of the following candidates to answer our questions and commit to working with OTOC to develop solutions to the issues that were raised at the Session.

Lt. Governor Candidate             Jane Raybould

Dist 4: West Central Omaha    Stacey Ryan (R)

Dist 6: Central Omaha             John Stalnaker (D)

Dist. 8: Benson, Dundee           Gwen Aspen (R)             Burke Harr (D)

Dist. 12:  Ralston                      Greg Hosch (D)

Dist. 20:  Southwest Omaha    Matt Lathrop (D)

OTOC is non-partisan and never endorses candidates or political parties but does ask candidates to state clearly how they would address issues which are important to OTOC member institutions.