Write-in candidate sees opportunity amid scandal
September 17th, 2012
Omaha, NE- The race to represent North Omaha in the Nebraska Legislature has turned on its head in the wake of incumbent Brenda Council’s admitted illegal use of campaign funds for gambling. Her opponent, Ernie Chambers, has not called for her to leave the race, and Council has pledged to stay in. But a write-in candidate is viewing this as a potential opportunity to win a place at the Capitol.
Susan Smith is an admitted underdog in the District 11 race. The North Omaha resident filed for write-in candidacy after the Primary votes had been counted in May. She said after filling out a mail-in primary ballot, she was unhappy about the choices of candidates.
“That bothered me ‘cause I just felt screwed as a citizen,” Smith said. “Something just clicked in me and said you know what, I need to run. I need to run and let the citizens up here make the decision, give them that choice, and I can feel good about that.”
Smith is a staunch conservative and an anti-illegal immigration activist. She founded Nebraskans Advisory Board, an anti-illegal immigration advocacy group that pushes for zero-tolerance policies towards illegal immigrants.
She wants to see prenatal care and in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants cut off, voter ID laws put in place, free lunch programs cut in schools–schools which she called “bloated and ineffective” and a “cesspool” of wasted funds. She said schools are taking on too many social problems rather than focusing on “reading, writing and arithmetic.”
“I think the education system is really encroaching on parental rights,” she added.
Smith said the current economic struggles of North Omaha are persuasive reasons for voters to abandon what she called the “liberal policies” of Council and Chambers, both Democrats. She also took aim at the revelations last week regarding Sen. Council’s abuse of campaign funds for gambling.
“I was shocked at her shallowness in her apology, her arrogance in continuing to run, thinking she could represent the voters, thinking that she would have trust of voters…I think it’s folly and I think it’s clouded judgment again,” Smith said.
Brenda Council issued a statement of apology in light of the charges, saying “I made an error in judgment and I take full responsibility for that error.” Council said she is currently getting treatment for a gambling addiction, and pledged to pay back the remaining amount of campaign funds she borrowed. Chambers said he would not call on Council to leave the race.
In an act of solidarity on Friday, supporters of Sen. Council such as Douglas County Commissioner Chris Rodgers, Councilman Ben Gray, and teachers’ union Nebraska State Education Association came out in support of her decision to stay in the race. Council will continue campaigning and participating in debates.
Smith is participating in a debate at 7:00 p.m. tonight on CTI Channel 22 between herself, Council, and Chambers. The debate is sponsored by the NAACP.
More Election 2012 Coverage: