Two Democrats in District 7 Race

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August 16th, 2016

Ricketts veto sets up final death penalty repeal vote; packer hog ownership gets first-round approval. (Photo Courtesy Fred Knapp)

25 of Nebraska’s 49 seat Unicameral are up for election in 2016. (Photo Courtesy Fred Knapp)

There are two democrats running to represent Nebraska’s 7th District in the State Unicameral.   


In the May primaries, Tony Vargas won 44 percent of the vote in District 7, making him the heavy favorite against John Synowiecki, who garnered 28 percent of the vote. Synowiecki finished one point higher than Republican incumbent Nicole Fox, who was appointed by Governor Pete Ricketts.

Synowiecki was also appointed to serve in the legislature by Governor Mike Johanns in 2001 and served until 2008. Tony Vargas sits on the Board of Education for Omaha Public Schools. Both candidates said helping people get good jobs is their top priority.

Tony Vargas said his Catholic values prohibit him from supporting things like the death penalty.

Vargas said,”The other thing that is really important is this huge bipartisan coalition of state senators, from all across the state, finding their way to overturning the death penalty. Which shows this is much more than about morality and religion, this is about people. This is about what’s going to be best for our community and what’s going to fiscally make sense for our state and how do we keep our community safe?”

John Synowiecki is also Catholic. He said he’s pro-life from conception until natural death, and everywhere in between.

Synowiecki said, “When I was a member of the Legislature, I voted against the death penalty based upon those beliefs and those principles. So I will be voting in the November election to retain the repeal. I think that is what the correct response would be for those of us who principally don’t believe in the death penalty and would consider themselves pro-life.”

Medical marijuana is poised to be another contentious issue in the upcoming legislative session, but Synowiecki said so far, nobody he’s talked to is concerned about it.

Synowiecki said, “Not one constituent in South Omaha has raised that issue with me. If there is a medical marijuana bill introduced in the next session, I will do like I do with all the bills: research the issue, look to see what the constituents’ pulse is relative to the issue, look at expert testimony and see if medical marijuana can somehow fit into our continuum of care in the State of Nebraska or not? And it would depend on what the data and information tells us.”

 Vargas said you can’t talk about marijuana without talking about criminal justice reform and the school to prison pipeline. On the subject of medical marijuana specifically, Vargas, like Synowiecki, wants to hear as much about the subject as possible before making a decision.

Vargas said, “I want to make sure anytime we are trying to change something that has to do with legalizing marijuana that it’s done talking to stakeholder groups–people in the community, parents, families, law enforcement, medical professionals—so that they’re also informing the conversation around this because it is really critical. But I do want to make sure we’re getting  to a place where we’re trying to improve the school to prison pipeline and the overcrowding we’re seeing in our prisons.”

One way some voters want to improve the school to prison pipeline, is through the creation of charter schools. Nebraska is one of just seven states in the country with laws against charter schools, which take tax payer funding but aren’t a part of public districts.

Vargas said, “For me, as a state senator, I don’t plan on proposing any legislation that’s going to introduce charter schools. I think we always have to have conversations about everything with education, but for me I’m not going to be sponsoring anything regarding this.”

Synowiecki said he doesn’t want charter schools in Nebraska and in his previous term in office, worked to stop them.

Synowiecki said, “I would not at all be interested in diverting public funds away from our traditional public schools for some sort of experiment with charter schools. I would continue to advocate for increased funding for public school districts that have disproportionate poverty, and disproportionate English language learners.”

 District 7 is one of 25 seats up for election this year in Nebraska’s 49 seat Unicameral. Election day, is November 8th.

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