Campaign spending has always been big business on the national level as candidates try to influence the public and gain votes. But now it's even happening at the local level, and it seems it's getting out of control.

Take for example, the race for the District 16 seat in the Nebraska Legislature, which represents Burt, Cuming and Washington counties.

Blair resident Ben Hansen reported spending $70,506 by early October, with more than $101,000 still on hand. His largest donations included $50,000 from the Nebraska Chiropractic Physicians Association, $15,000 from the Nebraska Realtors Political Action Committee (PAC) and $10,000 from Gov. Pete Ricketts.

Hansen's opponent, Chuck Hassebrook of Lyons, reported spending $151,725, with more than $104,000 still on hand. His biggest single donor was the Nebraska State Education Association PAC, which gave him $4,582.

Add that up, it's nearly a quarter of a million dollars spent — with $205,000 left to be spent — to win a position that pays only $12,000 year. That's ridiculous.

While both Hansen and Hassebrook are seeking to serve their community and state, spending that amount of money is still absurd.

In addition to the spending, the mud-slinging has also gotten out of hand. Mailings have been sent on behalf of both campaigns with false statements or half-truths. This type of negative campaigning needs to stop.

The campaigns should be civil. Candidates need to tout their strengths rather than belittle their opponents. Let the voters make an informed decision based on facts, not half-truths and deep pockets.

Voters need to educate themselves before heading to the polls. Take the opportunity to learn what you can about all of the candidates who want to serve and represent you before casting that ballot.

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