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Nebraska State Legislature - District 23

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  • Bruce Bostelman

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    Helen Raikes

Biographical Information

Does Nebraska need to change its method of redistricting? Why or why not?

Do you feel there is a need for voter ID? If so, why and how should it be implemented?

How should the problem of prison overcrowding be handled?

Does Nebraska need a paid family medical leave program? Why or why not?

Should there be increased restrictions on money in politics? Why or why not? What specific restrictions would you support?

What is your plan to ensure Nebraska’s infrastructure and economy are stable during and post pandemic, such as COVID-19?

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Occupation Professor (retiring)
Education BS Journalism MS Human Development PhD Child Development
Current Public Office, dates held NA
Past Public Office, dates held NA
Address 684 North Forty Drive, Ashland, NE 68003
Marital Status Widowed, Married to Senator Ron Raikes
Age 77
Military experience NA
Volunteer experience Boards of Directors: Nebraska Children and Families Foundation; Sixpence Early Learning Fund; Buffett Early Childhood Fund; Nebraska HIstorical Foundation; Lincoln Community Foundation; Omaha Early Learning Centers; Nebraska Jazz Orchestra
Twitter @hraikes2
We are upon another decade with need/opportunity to redistrict. I witnessed the redistricting that occurred following the 2000 Census and it was not admirable. Despite efforts such as those of my late husband, who was in the Legislature at that time, there was some gerrymandering to meet the aims of dominant political powers. Political power should not be driving the redistricting process. As someone who is running to powerfully represent a rural district, I, of course, do not want to see the rural portions of Nebraska lose representation, though I know recent population shifts lead in that direction. Currently, rural landholders are paying more than their share of taxpayer costs and they need representation. There needs to be a check/balance (e.g., the Nebraska Supreme Court) to ensure fairness and lack of partiality to political parties for the redistricting process.
Unnecessary ID procedures have been used to block persons from voting, especially low-income, minority and elderly voters. Not everyone has a drivers’ license. The goal is to make voting accessible and easy, but also legal. I am not opposed to Voter ID, if it is reasonable to ensure you are the person on the voter list, and there is opportunity for a provisional ballot. No legal resident should be prevented from voting.
I promote more efforts on the "front end" of incarceration. Two "front end" action steps that have the potential to reduce overcrowding are sentencing reform and faster trajectories towards work or education release. Sentencing reform involves a more varied sentencing approach when it comes to minor offenses as opposed to flat sentencing. Moving more quickly towards work or education release involves identifying early on the prisoners' potential for work or education release. Next, we need to complete remediation programs early after evaluation is completed not waiting until near final release date. Then, when the remediation program is successfully completed, more speedily allow the inmate to transfer to work or education programs. Housing inmates in work or education release facilities earlier together with sentencing reform can move inmates, as appropriate, through the system more quickly, reducing overcrowding. Some new prison facilities probably will still need to be built.
There are many reasons for paid family medical leave, including childbirth (with leave for both mothers and fathers) and family illness. Our medical policies need to be humane and to lend themselves to practices that lead to the best outcomes for all. During the post partum period, trajectories for children’s development and relationships are established. There is nothing more important for the parent/s than to form a relationship with their newborn, as this early period sets the stage for the child’s life to come. It is also important to spend time with ill family members. It is impossible to undervalue these supports, and the tensile strength the family brings to our society.
Absolutely. Currently, outside interests dominate Nebraska politics. Two opponents for the Legislature may be authentically battling it out, when an outside interest dumps $100,000s to a single Legislative race. The amount is insurmountable to local political aspirants and the tactics are unfair. Moreover, the simple $25 - $100 donations of Nebraskans in support of their candidates are totally eclipsed by the tsunami of outside funding, frequently referred to as “Dark Money.” I support caps and absolute restriction of outside PAC funds in Nebraska races.
This is an important question. I do not think any of us know at this point what the specific challenges of a (hopefully) post-COVID 19 world will be. The leading industry of the state, agriculture, was already reeling before COVID and even more so today. Many of our ag economy issues could be solved by trade—removal of tariffs, new markets for our products, re-energizing the ethanol market. Perhaps we develop our own international policies and pursue them vigorously. On the other hand, the food we produce is a key commodity; we need to get out in front of the demand. We will need more funds to support the small business and ag economy (e.g., we still have crippling local property taxes). Infrastructure, including schools and their functioning, needs to be assured, and we are still rebuilding after floods, so, bridges will require additional state funding. We will probably need to tap into reserve funds for the rebuilding period, but a leading edge will be to reestablish markets.