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Nebraska Conservation leader Eliot Bostar running for legislature

(KOLNKGIN)
Published: Apr. 14, 2020 at 5:01 PM CDT
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The following responses have not been edited.
Name (also include name you’d prefer to be called):

Eliot Bostar

Preferred political party:

Democrat

Current or most recent profession:

Executive Director of Conservation Nebraska and Nebraska Conservation Voters

Tell us a little about yourself:

Currently, I serve as the Executive Director of Nebraska Conservation Voters and Conservation Nebraska -- nonprofit organizations that work to protect our state’s communities and environment. Before I took on leadership of these organizations, they had been dormant for several years. We now employ 25 people, working across the state to ensure we have clean air and clean water, and prepare our communities for the future. I am also a member of the Lincoln Electric System Board (appointed by former Mayor Chris Beutler) and the Climate Resiliency Task Force (appointed by Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird). Earlier in my career, before coming home to Nebraska, I worked in the New York Governor’s office, where I helped close a $15 billion deficit, found innovative ways to fund infrastructure projects to fix roads and bridges during the 2008 recession, and forged public-private partnerships to expedite the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site after 9/11.

My Nebraska roots reach back five generations. Purchasing land under the Homestead Act, my family settled near McCool Junction in York County in 1873. I am a graduate of St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy and earned a Business degree from Embry-Riddle University, where I met my wife, Carrie. We are new parents to our son, Dexter.

Why are you running for this office?

I believe that we deserve to have elected leaders who will work for all Nebraskans and who are focused on finding solutions to our most serious problems. Especially in these uncertain times, we need to think long-term about the challenging issues we face: education, healthcare, property taxes, jobs, caring for vulnerable Nebraskans, and our environment. We need leaders who are focused on making sure we have strong schools, good paying jobs, and growing opportunities in our state. We need to work together for our shared future.

Do you support the actions taken by federal, state and local government officials to combat the spread of COVID-19? What, if any, changes would you propose?

Local, state, and national officials are operating in largely uncharted territory. Due to the length of time it takes for people to become symptomatic, government officials only know weeks later whether the actions they took were enough to slow the spread of the virus.

Recognizing that challenge, it’s now clear that we were not prepared. The United States now has the most reported coronavirus cases in the world. But together, we can flatten the curve and beat this pandemic. I strongly support actions taken by state and local officials to urge people to stay home. It was important for the State Legislature to come together to pass a bipartisan bill to support Nebraskans. Federal action to provide paid family medical leave has allowed many workers to prioritize their wellbeing without fear of losing their job or missing a paycheck. Small-business assistance is critical to ensure our community can thrive after the pandemic is over. Moving forward, we need to immediately increase testing capacity, especially for essential workers, and ensure that our hospitals have the resources they need to provide treatment.

What is your message to the people of this district and all Nebraskans during this time of crisis?

We can fix the economy but we can’t bring back those who we’ve lost. We need to prioritize the health and safety of Nebraskans and take robust precautions that are advised by our medical professionals. We will rebuild the economy and get Nebraska back to work. We will make it through this together even if that means being apart for a while.

How will you support the economy now and after social distancing requirements end?

The health and safety of Nebraskans is the most important thing for us to focus on as we look at how to stabilize the economy and rebuild in the wake of COVID-19. Most immediately, we need to ensure our critical infrastructure - medical facilities, utilities, and supply chains - is secure and reliable as the pandemic spreads. We also need to be compassionate towards those who have been impacted by illness or job-loss. As a member of the LES Board, I advocated to suspend disconnections. All of our utilities must continue to provide this relief to those in our community who need help.

Once this public health crisis is over we need to get Nebraskans back to work. We must support our small, local businesses -- those places that really form the identity of our community and create thousands of jobs. We need to invest in our roads, bridges, dams and levees. We also have to invest in our human infrastructure, by supporting quality schools, paid family medical leave, and access to affordable healthcare.

What other issues facing voters are most important to you as a candidate?

Ensuring quality education for our kids.

Creating good-paying jobs.

Making healthcare affordable and accessible.

Protecting our environment.

Enacting a fair tax system for working families.

Why do you consider yourself the best person to address the needs of voters in your legislative district?

I get things done. Throughout my life and career, I’ve pulled people together, hammered out solutions and made sure they were effectively implemented. This is how I took two dormant organizations and grew them into a 25-person team that’s helping communities across our state protect their drinking water and air quality. It’s how I helped forge partnerships to rebuild at the World Trade Center site after 9/11. And it’s how as a Lincoln Electric System Board member, I advocated to halt disconnections during this pandemic to ensure our community could count on electricity when they need it most.

I will bring that same collaborative and effective approach to the state legislature. I will find solutions and I will get things done.

How has your experience prepared you for this job?

I am particularly prepared to serve our community at this moment. My entire career has focused on responding to crises, helping communities bounce back and succeed after challenging times, and preparing for the future. Early in my career, when I served in the New York Governor’s office, I helped close a $15 billion budget deficit while protecting funding for education, healthcare, and other critical services that people need to survive. I forged partnerships to help rebuild the World Trade Center site, and helped get the economy moving again. As a member of the Lincoln Electric System Board, I am working to ensure our electrical grid stays reliable and secure as we face the challenging months ahead of us. I advocated for LES to suspend all disconnections for nonpayment to ensure we weren’t placing additional hardship on families in our community. And as a member of the Climate Resiliency Task Force, I work to make sure our community is prepared for the impacts climate change will have on our infrastructure, economy, and society.

What separates you from your primary challenger(s)? What about your potential general election challenger?

Out of all the candidates running for this race, I am uniquely prepared to ensure Nebraska comes out the other side of this pandemic successfully. As I wrote about above in detail, I know how to rally people together from across the public, private and nonprofit sectors to put people back to work. I’ve done it before and I am ready to do it again, if given the chance, as your state senator.

Is there any other message, statement or concern you’d like to address?

Thank you for taking the time to interview candidates and thanks to everyone who is taking the time to inform themselves during these uncertain times.

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