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State Sen. Anna Wishart running for re-election in District 27

(KOLNKGIN)
Published: Apr. 13, 2020 at 3:31 PM CDT
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> Anna Wishart

Preferred political party:

Democrat

Current or most recent profession:

Director of Partnerships at Beyond School Bells - Nebraska's afterschool and summer learning network.

Tell us a little about yourself:

I was born and raised in Lincoln and District 27 and attended Lincoln Southeast High School where I met my husband Joe Coleman. I received my bachelors degree at Middlebury College in Vermont and always knew I would come home to live and work in Nebraska. Currently I work at a nonprofit that helps communities across the state provide after school experiences for youth. My husband Joe is a former Lincoln Police Officer and now works for Lincoln Public Schools. We have served as licensed foster parents through Cedars Home for Children. I have a twin sister who lives in Madison, Wisconsin. My father has been a geography professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for 45 years. My mother is retired now, and spent much of her career as a book editor for a publishing company. They both still live in our childhood home. In my free time, I love spending time outdoors, long distance running, gardening, cooking with family and watching classic movies.

Why are you running for this office?

I came to the Legislature to create an environment where elected leaders listen to every one of their constituents. I tried to be that public servant, but there is still more work to be done to bring peoples’ voices into the legislature. My priority bills over the past four years have been brought to me by constituents. I have met most of the families I represent at their doors or over the phone. I am committed to building that trust between Nebraskans and our Legislature.

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?

I support federal, state and local efforts to respond to COVID-19 through social distancing, increasing the production of testing and personal protective equipment (PPE), providing relief to people and small businesses who have been negatively impacted, and developing a vaccine and treatment.

As the Senator of District 27, I worked with the Governor and Legislature to pass an $83 million emergency budget in March to respond to COVID-19. This funding works similar to our flood and natural disaster response, and includes funds for local community health departments, as well as funds to expand our testing and PPE capacity.

My legislative office has also reached out to families, businesses, nonprofits, public health and safety workers, senior living facilities and other agencies to be a resource. In the past month, we have:

Connected small businesses with financial resources

Helped people recently unemployed sign-up for unemployment

Raised money and supplies for the City Mission

Advocated for the safety of state and correctional employees

Helped children with disabilities qualify for telehealth services

Held an AARP tele-town hall to connect with seniors

Met virtually with UNMC and public health to work to increase testing capacity

Connected people who want to help with local nonprofits

What we could have done differently:

The most important thing we could have done differently is to prepare before the pandemic even started. We need to make sure that our healthcare system is in good shape during the good times so that we are ready to handle these types of crises. I co-sponsored legislation in the last session that would have brought the first national pandemic response hospital to Nebraska. If we are prepared ahead of time, we can minimize the stress on our economy.

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

This emergency has impacted all aspects of daily and commercial life for Nebraskans and I am proud of the way our community has come together to help each other. There will be hard work after this to rebuild our lives and our economy, just like there is after any disaster. I have all the confidence in the world that Nebraskans are up for the challenge. If you need anything, please don’t hesitate to call my cellphone at: (402) 314-5688 or email my office at: awishart@leg.ne.gov. Take care. We will get through this together.

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

I helped the state to become economically sound enough to withstand these tough times through careful budgeting and setting enough money aside in our rainy day fund to prepare for financial uncertainty. Moving forward, I believe we will have to be extremely careful about spending and focus on programs to help those who have been most affected. Small businesses are the backbone of our community, and I believe we need to help them so that they can open their doors and hire people again. This could take the form of additional loan programs and reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens.

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

Nebraskans want a balanced budget that does not rely on raising taxes or jeopardizing essential services. They want a high quality and affordable healthcare system. Nebraskans want clean water and to protect our environment for our grandchildren. I have a record of leading on these issues and will continue to lead moving forward.

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

I have the experience to lead Nebraska through tough times. I have spent my career working side-by-side with public servants regardless of their political beliefs. Look at my track record, I get things done. And I will always put the people of District 27 and Nebraska first.

How has your experience prepared you for this job?

I believe that progress happens at the speed of trust. I have spent four years building strong relationships with Senators and have built a reputation of being honest, hard working, positive and innovative. This experience has helped me successfully introduce and pass bills that help reduce property taxes, fix our broken mental health system, and improve healthcare for seniors and people with disabilities.

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

I have experience. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I helped lead our state through a billion dollar revenue shortfall without raising taxes or jeopardizing essential services. This experience has prepared me to lead our state through these uncertain financial times.

I am committed to working with Senators from across the state and all political parties. In 2018 I collaborated with Senator Mark Kolterman of Seward to pass legislation that improves access to healthcare in assisted living facilities, earning us the National AARP Caregiver Award. I have a record of being a Senator who is trusted, hardworking, and collaborative. I believe Nebraska needs me to help cut through divides and keep our legislature moving forward.

I have taken the time to build meaningful relationships with the people of District 27. I have personally connected with almost every member of our district. Just this month I have made thousands of phone calls to talk with families and make sure they are doing okay.

I lead by example. My commitment to the welfare of children is demonstrated not only in my leadership on policy, but also in my actions to step up as a foster parent and provide a safe space for a child in need while his mother got back on her feet.

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

Reach out and connect with me if you need anything: (402) 314-5688

Find your Nebraska Legislative District here.

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