Nebraska legislative attorney Jennifer Carter running in primary for open district 29 seat

Published: Apr. 13, 2020 at 4:07 PM CDT
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The following responses have not been edited
Name (also include name you’d prefer to be called):

Jennifer Carter

Preferred political party:


Current or most recent profession:

Legal Counsel, Nebraska Legislature, Health and Human Services Committee

Tell us a little about yourself:

I am a long-time Lincoln resident with more than fifteen years of experience in public policy in Nebraska. Prior to working in the Legislature, I worked as a consultant to organizations such as the Food Bank and as the Director of Public Policy for Nebraska Appleseed. I hold a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and a law degree from Boston University School of Law. I serve on the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Lied and have served on the boards of HopeSpoke and the Prairie Hill Learning Center. My husband, Andy Barry, and I have two children, Cate and George.

Why are you running for this office?

I am running because I believe in the importance of public service. I believe our policies should be driven by our values and by facts. I believe we can and should have a real and reasoned dialogue about important issues, even if those conversations are difficult.

Do you support the actions taken by federal, state and local government officials to combat the spread of COVID-19?

Nebraska and Lincoln have done a good job working with the public health experts in the state and taking critical steps early to promote and require social distancing. Additional steps may be required. But I am hopeful that the actions taken thus far will reduce the chance that our health care system will be overwhelmed and will result in fewer people getting sick and dying. The administrations at the state and city level have also done a good job keeping the public informed. States seem to be leading during this crisis. At the federal level, more should have been done to prepare when the potential for the crisis was known including manufacturing and securing additional personal protective equipment and ventilators and ensuring that enough testing was available.

What, if any, changes would you propose?

At the federal level, I would like to see additional action taken, perhaps through the Defense Protection Act, to continue to increase the availability of PPE and to increase the availability of testing. If a test for antibodies is created and proven, that should also be made widely available. At the state and local level, the situation must be regularly reassessed so that more even restrictive steps can be taken if necessary to contain the spread.

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

We will get through this, together. I am proud of how Nebraskans have come together to help each other. I am so grateful to our health care workers, our first responders, and all the essential workers who can’t stay at home, including the grocery store clerks continuing to help us get what we need. I am grateful for our teachers who are working to teach our children in a totally different way and environment. This will pass. And we will continue to work together and support each other as we recover from this extraordinary time. I hope and believe we will be stronger for it.

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

First, we have to shorten the timeline of the pandemic through enough testing, medical equipment, PPE, as well as strict social distancing, quarantines, and stay at home orders. Second, we have to support the economy now by supporting workers and small businesses through a robust unemployment insurance system and low-interest loans or grants through the Small Business Administration. We have to utilize the flexibility granted in our federal support programs - ADC, SNAP, and Medicaid - to ensure that the most vulnerable members of our community, and those who are newly vulnerable, are able to meet their basic needs. Third, post-pandemic, each sector of our community - government, schools, businesses - must have pandemic plans in place to prepare for a potential future pandemic. We must also do more to ensure our healthcare system is accessible, affordable, and that our health care professionals have what they need if we are ever faced with this challenge again.

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

This crisis has made it clearer than ever before how critical it is to ensure that everyone has access to affordable healthcare. This is an issue I have worked on for over 15 years and will continue to work on. Related to that is the importance of mental health care. There is already a great need in Nebraska and, when unaddressed, creates additional pressures on our schools and corrections system. I am passionate about increasing access to mental health care. I also care deeply about maintaining a strong education system in Lincoln and Nebraska and know from my conversations with people in District 29 that this a priority they share, while also wanting to ensure that we ease the pressure on property taxes.

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

There is no one better prepared to step in and represent the people of District 29. I have worked on state-level policy at the Legislature for 15 years. The combination of my work experience, having children in our elementary and secondary school system, a husband who is a partner in a small business, and my volunteer work, has given me a perspective on and understanding of the challenges that may face the people I want to represent.

How has your experience prepared you for this job?

I have developed and shaped policy for fifteen years, first as an advocate and now as the legal counsel for the HHS Committee. I have worked with legislators from all backgrounds and corners of this state to find compromise and advance legislation that impacts the lives of all Nebraskans. I know how the legislature works and will be ready to serve the people of District 29 on day one.

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

With such a crowded field of candidates, I could find issues that I agree on with each one of them. The greatest difference, however, is my experience working on policy outside and inside of the Legislature. This experience sets me apart from all of the other candidates and puts me in the best position to serve effectively from day one.

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

Thank you to the people of District 29 who have been willing to share their stories and perspectives with me. Hearing from them has been the highlight of this campaign.

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