We live in the most unequal society on Earth and in the history of Earth. This society’s waste and consumption has led us to the ecological collapse and mass extinction that is currently underway. We must make a plan for Nebraska to address the impact of Climate Change and to prevent the extinction of the human race on Earth along with countless other animal species – and that plan must not be funneled through a lens of economic growth and “jobs”. We must listen to what scientists tell us and make a plan accordingly, even if it means disrupting the economy and our standards of living. We must not only transition to a renewable energy production grid, we must change from consumption and growth to an economy that is built to meet the needs of people, not just endlessly search for more profits at the expense of the health and well-being of Workers and the environment.
Fighting Climate Change starts with transitioning to a renewable energy production grid and ends with us disrupting and replacing our outdated, wasteful, and racist economy with one built to meet human needs first before the needs of corporations and land owners.
Mark calls it “The Housing Struggle” and not the Housing Crisis, because there is no crisis – there is only the struggle between Workers needing affordable housing and corporations and Landlords recklessly seeking excessive short-term profits. Republicans and moderate Democrats call it a “crisis” because they imagine that Capitalism could work right for Working Class People if we only restrained it properly or tweaked it just right. Mark believes that allowing Housing to be left to the whims of “the market” instead of assuring that every person is guaranteed shelter every single night no matter what – is a reflection of our society’s greater love of money than for people.
Mark believes that housing is a human right. If Democrats believe that too, then it’s time to aggressively challenge the current structure of housing policy in Nebraska and Omaha. That won’t happen by continuing to elect moderate Democrats who accept tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from real estate developers and architecture firms, or Democrats who praise developers and millionaires for their investment and “risk” when they reshape and destroy Working Class neighborhoods with their gentrification.
Instead, Democrats should be praising the Workers who make those same corporations great, and criticizing wealth and income inequality that turns the Housing “Market” into more of a cutthroat, high-stakes investment business that’s less accessible to first-time home-buyers and working class folks seeking affordable housing. But it also won’t magically happen by electing a Working Class Democrat Socialist as the next State Senator for District 9. Even after a Worker like Mark is elected, the landlords and developers will still have most of the power and money to affect their policy in Nebraska and Omaha.
That’s why Mark organizes with tenants and other local activists with the goal of building People Power among tenants all across Omaha. Profiteering slumlords like Dave Paladino and reckless developers like Urban Village have abused the Working Class of Omaha too long, and People are starting to wake up and organize. Mark has worked with tenants to fight back against harassment from their landlords, to win back hundreds of dollars of overpriced cleanup fees and other scams profiteering slumlords use to squeeze as much profit out of their tenants as possible with, and often just helps people move out of one bad situation into whatever they can afford next. Mark has been on the ground, organizing with folks in desperate situations – he’ll take that experience to Lincoln as State Senator and intends to continue his organizing activities while serving as State Senator for District 9.
Housing is a Human Right. This shouldn’t be a radical statement, but it is, and the change required and what the policy and infrastructure of Housing guaranteed as a Human Right will look like will be radically different from what the “Housing Market” looks like today. Mark will take that vision to Lincoln as State Senator for District 9, but it’s up to the Workers and Tenants of District 9 to decide they want that radical future and to start doing things radically differently. If we truly believe in that radical future, we must take responsibility for it.
Public Mass Transit
Everything the Nebraska Unicameral does must be viewed through the lens of Climate Change, and that is no less fundamentally true of every mass transit initiative and project from now into the near future; our plans to connect workers to employment opportunities and to create a society where true freedom of movement is realized must all be funneled through the reality of our Climate Change struggle. How does our transit help reduce our carbon emissions to zero as quickly as possible? Are we still investing in technology that is outdated or that relies on any form of carbon emission? If so, that is the wrong path to be on if we are to avoid ecological collapse and the extinction of the Human Race on Planet Earth. All of our transit development must be focused on building cities and connecting communities for an economy of the future – one that focuses on meeting human needs and not endless growth and profit. Are we building transit that connects workers and neighborhoods, or are we just building transit for the short-term profits of developers in certain affluent neighborhoods?
Public Transit and the Housing Struggle have much in common – both issues must be put through the Climate Change Lens: how will current development allow future generations to live sustainable lives based on renewable energy and build an economy to meet human needs? Neither building single-family houses in suburban west and north Omaha, nor infill development of nothing but luxury condos the Working Class cannot afford to live in are the solutions.
The solution is to input Workers’ opinions and needs and wants as much as possible into plans for a Statewide transit network, as well as local transportation plans – all while accounting for Climate Change and the needs of Nebraska’s most vulnerable citizens who need good public transit the most. The Poor and the underemployed, as well as those differently-abled who rely on public transit because they cannot or do not have access to cars, need public transit to survive – literally. Public transit effects how well students do in school, the air quality from neighborhood to neighborhood, and the success of local businesses. Good or bad public transit means life or death for Working Class people, and Mark understands that.
Mark has not owned a car for nearly five years – he rides a bicycle or takes public transit like the city bus or uses ride-sharing applications on rainy days. He rode the city bus and his bike to high school, and has ridden the Amtrak train across Nebraska and across the country. Mark believes in the power of public transit, from rail lines to bike lanes, and will prioritize a commuter rail line between Omaha and Lincoln if elected State Senator. He works in public transit, he uses his skills as a community organizer to advocate for climate change focused public transit initiatives, and if elected will prioritize bold mass transit initiatives for both Nebraska and Omaha. The Nebraska Legislature needs the perspective of a Worker who doesn’t rely on cars to get around Nebraska – so that in the future anyone across Nebraska could also live that life – not just a young able-bodied person in the inner-city.