VOTER VOICES: Nebraskans interested in a wide range of issues

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July 16, 2012 - 7:00pm

Note: Since March, Nebraskans have been recording their thoughts on election-year issues at local libraries for the NET News "Campaign Connection 2012: Voter Voices" project. These "Voter Voices" videos offer varied perspectives on a wide range of subjects like taxes, immigration, bullying and agricultural land values. Visit the project web site to watch some of these videos, learn more about the project and learn where you can record your "Voter Voices" video.



Andra White, Clark Beyer, Wilber and Marlene Fey and Maria Flores are people with little in common. They come from different parts of Nebraska, have different backgrounds, and have a wide range of personal politics. What they share, though, are passionate perspectives on election-year issues, and a desire to talk about these issues as part of the NET News "Voter Voices" project, recording web cam videos at libraries throughout the state.

Beyer is a retiree from Hastings whose background includes serving in the U.S. military and the Peace Corps. He's concerned about the federal budget.

"We're not in good shape," he said in his video, recorded at the Edith Abbott Memorial Library in Grand Island. "(We have) big problems. Medicare costs have to be balanced. We cannot spend more money burying somebody than they have made their entire life. That's just an economic imbalance that will not work. Military, (we're) spending way, way too much money."

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Maria Flores records her video for the NET News "Voter Voices" project at the Edith Abbott Memorial Library in Grand Island.

A couple of issues not normally part of campaign stump speeches were on the minds of two participants. In her "Voter Voices" video, Flores talked about bullying from the perspective of a parent who said her first-grader has been a victim.

"So what do we need to do as a community, as parents, as a community group, to help these kids understand that talking about other kids or even picking on them, it really makes a big change on their lives," said Flores, an insurance customer service representative from Grand Island.

Retired social worker Byron Peterson lives in the community of Minatare in Nebraska's panhandle. He'd like to see some creative thinking when it comes to services for homeless people.

"You're a victim and you're being blamed for your victimhood, so I would like to see some hard, hard work done to intervene with homeless people," said Peterson, who recorded his "Voter Voices" video at the Lied Scottsbluff Public Library. "Many of the homeless people I see are veterans, soldiers that have come back with a wretched outcome, and they're having to exist out there."

Wilber Fey is a retired farmer from Nebraska City. He and his wife Marlene are concerned about rising agricultural land values, saying the value of their land increased more than 200 percent in eight years.

"Hopefully, you understand family farms. Well, they are being rapidly pushed into the past," Wilber Fey said in his and Marlene's video. "They are just disappearing due to all the high-priced land that's being sold, (land) the average farmer can't buy."

Marlene Fey has similar concerns about land values and rising taxes. In a "Voter Voices" video she recorded with her husband at the Morton-James Public Library in Nebraska City, she also talked about voter identification.

"Why doesn't everyone need to have a voter ID card," she said. "If I use my credit card, I pick up tickets in a sporting venue, I write a check, I have to show my photo ID. So why so much against a voter ID? The story (that) it puts a hardship on the minorities is a bunch of hogwash to me. They need it for everything else they get so why can't they just show it at the voting place?"

Immigration issues are on White's mind. She lives in Broken Bow and works for a state contractor, coordinating a statewide scholarship program.

"I do strongly believe in controlling the borders, but I do have a concern about the children and families that are already in this country illegally, especially the children," White said in a video recorded at the Broken Bow Public Library. "Some of their parents are here with them, some of their parents have been deported, and those children don't have any access to employment or education, they cannot pursue postsecondary (education) because they are not eligible for any financial aid, student loans, anything along that line."

NET News has gathered a wide range of perspectives since "Voter Voices" recording began at Nebraska libraries in March. No matter the ideology, background or location, though, there's one opinion we've heard much more than others: frustration with the tone of the election and so-called partisan politics. It's an opinion Tim Johnson of Lincoln shared in a video he recorded at Bennett Martin Library.

"I guess my main concern is that the two parties have become so entrenched that nothing gets done now," he said, "and people are so partisan that they don't even open their minds and listen to the other side."




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