Get to Know Your Unicameral: Sen. Carol Blood
February 26th, 2019
In the next installment of a series of reports profiling Omaha-area state senators, KVNO Student Reporter Emily White speaks with Senator Carol Blood about her journey to the Unicameral and her approach to being a legislator and public servant.
“Policy makes me giddy. I have this thing because of how I think that if you give me a problem, I absolutely positively have to solve it. So it’s a blessing and a curse. But it keeps my brain very activated, it keeps me really motivated, and it keeps me excited about what I’m doing.”
Carol Blood, active in her community for decades, decided to run for the Bellevue City Council in 2008 because—as she put it—“why not me?”
“I was watching the council meetings televised and I saw that there was no planning and I was very surprised that the third largest city in Nebraska had no strategic plan,” she says. “If you don’t have a strategic plan when you’re a municipality, you’re basically just writing checks. You really can’t budget effectively without a strategic plan.
“And I found myself yelling at the television, giving them answers, when, of course, they could not hear me.”
Blood ran and won the election, and then won again in 2012. And then she looked ahead.
“I realized that a lot of the issues that we had at the municipal level was because of how state statute is written.”
After a narrow defeat in the election of 2014, Blood took another shot at the Legislature in 2016 and defeated the incumbent.
“I feel really proud of my first two years,” she says. “Everything I promised I would accomplish, I’ve already accomplished. And I’m pushing forward and working quite hard for my community—especially for our veterans and our military families that play a very important role in my district.”
Blood represents District 3, located in Sarpy County and covering parts of Bellevue and Papillion. Because of the close proximity of Offutt Air Force Base, her constituency includes many active and retired service members and their families.
“No matter where you’re located in Nebraska, you have to understand the fact that we need Offutt Air Force Base. I make that a priority, because for myself and Senator Crawford, who’s in District 45, Offutt Air Force Base is literally our backyard.”
Right from the start, Blood knew that more must be done to support, in particular, military families. Among the measures she has supported are those that would help people in military families find work, education, and affordable, reliable health care.
“Keeping these people here in Nebraska, we’re keeping a highly educated workforce, we are keeping tax dollars, and we are keeping jobs.”
Blood has her eye on other policy areas this session as well, including women’s health. A measure she introduced in January would exempt the sales tax for supplies related to breastfeeding and would also exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws.
“We really need to embrace our moms here in Nebraska,” says Blood. “When we push initiatives like breastfeeding, we should be doing everything in our power to make women feel safe and wanted in our communities if they choose to breastfeed in public.”
Now halfway through her first term, Blood thinks the two most important things she’s learned in this role are to stay above politics and focus on policy, and to listen to every voice, not just the ones that are loudest.
And for those who are the loudest:
“Don’t acquiesce,” she advises. “I face each and every angry person, and I tell them why I don’t support what they want me to support, or vice versa. And I can say, maybe fifty, sixty percent of the time, it’s diffused.
“Now, they may never vote for me and that’s okay, but I think they walk away with the respect that screaming at me and calling me names isn’t going to change how I feel about anything. It’s just going to make me want to sit down more and talk with them and get them to understand my reasoning, because I’ve certainly heard theirs.”
Bottom line, Blood says her bills revolve around solving problems.
“I don’t have a lot of sexy legislation, because it’s not really important to me to get the headlines all the time. It’s important for me that my constituents come up to me and say, ‘Hey, I really appreciate this bill; this made a difference in my life.’ That’s why I’m a public servant.
“And I think that’s the difference between a politician and a public servant—why are you here?”
Listen to the full interview with Sen. Blood below (in three parts), conducted Jan. 5, 2019:
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