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Jazari Zakaria
Jazari Zakaria(Jazari Zakaria)

Jazari Zakaria

Candidate for Nebraska Representative in Congress, District 1

Democrat

Tell us about yourself.

I was born here in the United States shortly after my family immigrated here as refugees from South Sudan. I grew up in Lincoln, attending elementary, middle, and high school in this beautiful city. I am currently a double major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I will be the first college graduate in my family with not one but two degrees. In broadcasting media production and journalism, with a minor in English.

Over the years, I have used my talents to creatively give back to the community. I am a videographer, photographer, live streamer, and all-around content creator by day. I have worked with several different media publications as a contributor and correspondent. I take pride in being a community reporter and covering events and topics affecting our community.

In addition, I have advocated for various groups and causes using my online presence, reaching a broader audience.

I participate in many hunger relief efforts here in Lincoln. For example, I am a co-founder of LNK Freedges, which aims to eradicate food insecurity by placing mini-refrigerators around town full of food for those who need it to take. My team members and I created this venture during our enrollment in Leadership Lincoln’s 14th Advocates cohort.

I currently sit on two different non-profit boards and have received back-to-back nominations for a Young Lincoln Leader Award.

I, myself, see running for office as a form of service. A responsibility to take our energy and passion to the next level and create the change we all seek. There are so many issues that I am passionate about fixing that affect my community and me. That adds so much gravity and relatability to my run in this race.

If we give up the fight and lay down our pens, we are renouncing our rights as the authors of a bright and golden future.

I truly hope the people of Nebraska’s First Congressional District grant me their vote and trust me to represent them in the hallowed halls of our nation’s Capital.

Why are you running for this office?

Congress has not been reflective of what America looks like today. Diversity among minorities and age groups is diminutive within the federal government. Young Americans make up a large part of our country’s population, yet there is only one person under 30 in Congress.

My mission is to focus on legislation that affects the future of many young Americans, including, but not limited to, climate change, healthcare, college tuition, housing & food, criminal justice, and social justice & equity.

These days, people are distancing themselves from politics because they feel they do not have a voice or anyone who has their best interest at heart, fighting for them and their families. However, this is the time we have to exercise our constitutional rights to elect people who will do so.

I have done a lot of volunteer work and advocacy for my community, and being in Congress will be a way to elevate and amplify the good I have done and continue to do.

I am running for this office because I will be there for Nebraskans every single day and every single time.

What would be your top three priorities if elected?

Affordable college tuition

Climate Change

Legal immigration reform

What relevant experience would you bring to the office?

My background as a journalist and social media creator has made me a leader within the community as a trusted source of information on current events and an advocate for social and political issues.

Being a working-class citizen, I have faced the same challenges many Nebraskans face. I have had to work three jobs at once, struggled to pay rent, for food, and afford my college bills.

I have taken the pain and struggle of my life experience and turned it into advocacy for our community through social media.

When it is cold outside, my friends and I hand out hot meals to those who do not have a roof over their heads. We also help them seek shelter and relief from the bitter cold.

I help those in need whenever I can and as best as I can. That is the kind of neighbor we need, and that is the kind of representative we need in Congress. Someone who lives in the same reality as the people they campaign to represent.

Nebraskans are paying more for food, gas and rent. How do you plan on addressing concerns over the rise in inflation?

I believe we can combat inflation by giving the American people a true tax break. 0T40, “Zero Tax after 40,” would eliminate federal taxes from overtime pay.

Nebraska has a lot of production jobs where overtime is required. I would support legislation to eliminate federal tax on overtime pay so that workers can pay off their debts, save for a down payment on a home, save for their children’s college tuition, or start their own business.

Tipped employees have significantly struggled throughout the pandemic, and 0T40 would halt federal tax collection on tips.

Before 1984, a federal tax on social security checks was non-existent, and this legislation would reverse that taxation.

Lastly, increasing the federal minimum wage so that Americans can make a living wage will help them meet their needs.

What is your message to Nebraska business owners who are dealing with supply chain issues and labor shortages?

Supply chain shortages and inflation have negatively affected our country. The current state of the world has proven we need to be more self-sufficient. Investing in our economy, specifically local and small businesses, and creating more jobs for the American people will help address these issues.

Infusing more capital into agriculture will help Nebraska farmers and us become more self-sufficient with our food production. We need to limit the number of imported foods and increase our production and export of it to help decrease the cost.

A recent Pew Research Poll found “strengthening the economy” should be the number one priority for the president and congress. How would you help make that happen?

To strengthen the American economy, we must build from the ground up. So often, federal politics focuses on helping large corporate industries while forgetting about smaller businesses. Yet, working-class and middle-class Americans and small business owners are the lifelines of our economy. Investing in local economies will help build state economies, which will then help strengthen our national economy.

Do you believe Nebraska’s elections are free, fair and secure?

Yes.

Is illegal immigration a problem? What changes to current policy would you propose?

Security at our borders is essential and needs to remain. However, illegal immigration has become an issue associated with terrorism and used to evoke fear. When people are trying to get into the United States, they pursue a better life for their families. Immigrating to the U.S. or even visiting requires documents and monetary requirements that some countries either do not issue or people cannot afford. Our immigration system has become complex and inaccessible to so many people. We need to reconstruct our immigration policies and procedures to safely open our doors to bright, ambitious, and talented individuals who can help our nation progress.

Should any additional steps be taken by the federal government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic?

The federal government should take more action with the eviction moratorium. This will continue to impact low-income households for years to come.

Staffing shortages and lack of necessary resources have affected the quality of education for k-12 students. Congress should now focus on the recovery from COVID-19 by investing more in our public education system and youth mental health.

Do you support President Biden’s response to Russia’s attack on Ukraine? What other measures, if any, would you propose?

Russia’s attack on Ukraine is a delicate situation, but I believe President Biden has done well. At this time, we are still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. So we must avoid any aggression that may lead to the United States entering a war with Russia. We must continue to focus on humanitarian aid to Ukraine, which will be less costly than our American military fighting a war.