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Legislature - District 07

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    Jorge Sotolongo
    (R)

  • Tony Vargas
    (D)

Biographical Information

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

How should the problem of prison overcrowding be handled?

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

Should there be increased restrictions on money in politics? Why or why not and what specific restrictions would you support? (Online only)

Does Nebraska need a paid family medical leave program? Why or why not? (Online only)

Current Public Office, dates held None
Past Public Office, dates held None
Education Bachelor's Degree in Biology from Saint Louis University Master's Degree in Business Administration from University of Nebraska at Omaha
Military experience None
Volunteer experience Mayor Stothert's Millennial Advisory Committee (3 years)
I am in favor of a fair, balanced, and bipartisan process of redistricting. The question is whether an independent body, outside of the legislature, would do a better, more equitable, job of redistricting. There may be constitutional implications and/or hurdles to this type of decision. If the legislative committee can uphold transparency and bipartisanship, I support its activities, but would also suggest the involvement of outside experts like the Metro Area Planning Agency.
Despite alternative solutions that seek to relieve the number of incarcerated individuals in Nebraska, several of which I do support, I still believe we will need to build new facilities in the future. For example, changes to restrictive housing alone will necessitate more space. Construction of new facilities raises questions about staffing, construction costs, operating expenses, and how these facilities will improve our current system.
As a Hispanic citizen, I hope to be a unique, informed, and pragmatic voice for District 7's Hispanic constituents. This involves supporting policies that help newly arrived residents to feel part of our community. Obtaining proper ID and other official documents can be daunting, but ultimately important for creating a sense of belonging and peace of mind. My plan would be to consult the data on voter fraud and voting patterns in District 7, in order to come to a fair decision on voter ID.
As a candidate, I have familiarized myself with Nebraska's rules and guidelines enforced by the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission. I have been pleased by the level of transparency that these rules provide. I will continually assess these guidelines and practices, as I move forward.
I think paid family leave is extremely important, because it allows families to care for their loved ones without fear. However, a universal mandate for paid family leave would be detrimental to many small businesses in my district. The demand for better maternity/paternity leave and other paid leave has increased in the market, and companies continue to respond to these demands, in order to remain competitive. I support solutions that incentivize employers to continue this trend.
Current Public Office, dates held Nebraska Legislature, District 7 (January 2017 - Present); Member, Appropriations Committee; Chair, Legislature's Planning Committee; Vice Chair, Executive Board of the Legislative Council
Past Public Office, dates held Omaha Public Schools Board of Education, Subdistrict 9 (Dates: October 2013 - December 2016)
Education Bachelors of Arts, University of New York - Rochester; Masters of Education, Pace University
Military experience None
Volunteer experience Board Member, NE Children’s Home Society; Member, Douglas Co. Community Response; Board Member, South Omaha Business Assoc. (SOBA); Member, Dahlman Neighborhood Assoc.; Member, Sons of Italy and GI Forum; Eucharistic Minister, St. Francis Cabrini
Nebraska has a long history of supporting fairness, transparency, and nonpartisanship in government. Our current redistricting process is contrary to that culture. Allowing politicians to draw political district lines leads to partisanship and an erosion of confidence in government. I would support recent movements to put that process in the hands of an independent commission. If an independent commission is not successful, I will work to make the process better within the Legislature.
Our prisons are dangerously over capacity and have been for some time, which is dangerous for both staff and inmates. At its root, this is a problem in our justice system. We need to focus more on community based solutions, like diversion programming and other alternative courts, which have proven to be cost effective ways to reduce recidivism and keep people out of jail. If these things don’t change, we’ll just keep needing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build more prisons.
I do not support Voter ID legislation or any measures that would make it more difficult for Nebraskans to exercise their constitutional right to vote.
Most candidates for public office are required to file regular reports that show where their money comes from and how it is spent. The biggest gap in that transparency is for other groups that spend money on our elections, in support of or in opposition to a candidate or ballot initiative. Voters deserve to have that information at their fingertips, just as it is present for candidates for elected office, and I would support increasing those reporting requirements.
Absolutely. The entire country needs a paid family medical leave program. Every worker will go through a time when they need time off to care for themselves or a loved one. No one’s household financial stability should be endangered by illness or welcoming a new little one into their family.