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Do you know your candidates?

Nebraska Catholic Voter Guide Coming Up!

Note: As sometimes happens, I write this column before some big event occurs and you’ll read this column after that event has occurred. This means I can’t always be as up-to-date as I want. The event this time around is the historic debate on LB933, the Human Life Protection Act, which would protect preborn babies from the moment of conception when Roe v. Wade is overturned. If you receive our CANN (Catholic Advocacy Network of Nebraska) e-mails, you’ll know how the vote went down. But if you don’t, I invite you to join CANN at

I’m praying it was a successful debate. If so, we have two more rounds of debate ahead of us. Keep up the advocacy efforts. If the debate was not successful, then I leave you with these words of Father Richard John Neuhaus: “[U]ntil every human being created in the image and likeness of God is protected in law and cared for in life, we shall not weary, we shall not rest. And, in this the great human rights struggle of our time and all times, we shall overcome.”

Primary Elections and Scrutinizing Candidates. It’s that season, once again, where candidates across the state are vying for our support to serve in public office. Whether somebody is running for the proverbial city dog catcher or President of the United States or anything else in between, elections matter. The people who serve us in public office make decisions that impact us in any number of ways, some smaller and others more substantial. They have influence on those around them, including other public officials in different elected bodies, as well as community and business leaders. Not to mention, any number of candidates who successfully run for lower public offices end up running for higher public offices.

Who serves us matters. And we shouldn’t take any of this for granted. To repeat: elections matter.

But the problem is we too often take elections for granted. Many of us are distressed, distraught, fatigued, and frustrated at the very thought of a political election. Elections can sound like the same old empty promises with no perceived delivery of those promises, cycle after cycle. Lots of shaking hands, kissing babies, all for earthly power and self-gain. Perhaps this might be true from time to time. But the overarching fact is that it is not the true state of things.

In my experience, nearly everybody running for public office does so with the best of intentions. They are serious about serving their community. And they think they are best suited for the job, even if it took some others to convince them of this fact. They also believe they hold the right values that are needed to advance their elected district’s welfare. In short, even if you don’t agree with them about their principles and approaches to policy matters, they are doing it for “the right reasons.”

That said, as voters and particularly as Catholics, we have a solemn responsibility to be vigilant of those running for public office. We must discern their values and vote our well-informed conscience accordingly.

While not every one of us can go through each race with a fine-tooth comb, we should set aside some time to review trusted resources. For me, I typically review a candidate’s website, check if local newspapers have done interviews with the candidates, and look to organizations I align with and those I don’t (good to know what the opposition thinks!) and see if they’ve compiled voter guides that the candidates have answered.

And, better than all those options, speak with the candidate face-to-face. Candidates, especially those running for more local races, are typically accessible and very willing to talk with voters. You may find them at a local community gathering, candidate forum, or some other such event. And nothing should stop you from looking up their phone number or e-mail and contacting them directly.

For those who want the trusted help of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, we invite you view the Nebraska Catholic Voter Guide, which will go live online Monday, April 11, at There you can learn about state and federal legislative candidates, gubernatorial candidates, and State Board of Education candidates. We asked the candidates about a variety of issues we think Nebraskans find important. We also invited each candidate to share some background information about themselves and to provide their “message to Catholic voters.”

Take a few minutes to easily look up your candidates and share the resource with family, friends, and parishioners.

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