Nebraska Legislative District 9 Candidate: Sara Howard


November 4th, 2016

State Sen. Sara Howard (photo courtesy Nebraska Legislature

State Sen. Sara Howard (photo courtesy Nebraska Legislature

The race for Nebraska’s Legislative District 9 pits Omaha lawyer Larry Roland against incumbent State Senator Sara Howard. Both Howard and Roland made it through the primaries in May, but Howard held a significant advantage in the overall vote count. After profiling Roland yesterday, KVNO’s Brandon McDermott takes a look at Sara Howard’s campaign today.

Months of knocking on doors and talking to constituents by Nebraska State Sen. Sara Howard will finally come to an end on Election Day this Tuesday.

But Howard said after all the work and long hours she put in during her campaign, she is ready for the voting to take place. Howard, 34, just finished her first term as state senator for Nebraska Legislative District 9, a place where she grew up.

“Because I’m such a part of this district, I work very hard to make sure that I do what they tell me to do. When I was elected I sort of had this realization that I just got 37,000 new bosses and how in the world was I going to make sure that they knew that I was working for them? ,” Howard said.

When talking about her district, Howard mentioned the names of places where she played and ate ice cream as a kid growing up. She recited the names of the children that she babysat for as an adolescent and the university camp she attended as a teenager. Her mother, Gwen, served as state senator for District 9 from 2005-2012. Sara Howard was voted in, in 2012, becoming the first daughter to replace her mother in the Nebraska unicameral.

“My first year in the legislature one of the things that she sort of pounded into me was that the most important thing you have is your own credibility,” Howard said.

Howard said her mother also told her to keep her word when she makes a promise and strongly defend her stance on those issues she cares most about.

“It’s not about politics – it’s not about a D or an R – it’s really very much about whether or not the issues that are important to you are going to be advocated for in the way that you want them to be by that person,” Howard said.

Howard said District 9 encompasses a lot of unique people and circumstances and there are many important issues to work on. The district has a 47.3 percent home-ownership rate (Nebraska average is 66 percent) and 12 percent of houses in the district are vacant, more than the state average of nine percent. District 9 also has a higher unemployment rate (8.6 percent) than the state average (5.4 percent).

Prescription drug legislative bill hits close to home

Howard said when she makes a decision on how she plans to vote on specific issues; she always has her constituents in mind. One legislative bill which she said made a difference for everyone in her district was LB 471. Howard introduced LB 471 last session, which closed loopholes in Nebraska’s prescription drug monitoring program. It was a bill that hit close to home for her. Howard’s sister Carrie passed away in 2009 from a prescription overdose.

“When that bill passed final reading it was just one of those things where I couldn’t I couldn’t believe that two years of work was over and in about a seven minute stretch,” Howard said.

As the votes were coming in, she said she felt a sense of achievement and loss.

“You almost felt like Carrie was in the room like. I can’t bring her back, I would if I could. I could probably help other families not have the experience that my mother and I had,” Howard said.

In that moment, Howard said, she was reminded what was truly important.

“It had nothing to do with party – it had nothing to do with politics. It just had to do with recognizing that we have a problem in our state and knowing that we had the power to do something that could impact it,” Howard said.

Nebraska Politics ‘is about relationships’

She said she met with thousands of potential voters in her district this spring, summer and on into this fall. She ran into old friends and hopefully, she said, made some new ones.

“I have I have a tendency once I get to know my constituents, we really know them. My family, we’re dropping off baby gifts and going to funerals. People are sending us pet updates,” Howard said.

Howard said she has learned that politics in Nebraska is about relationships. Relating to constituents even when you disagree, and you’re bound to disagree about something, she said. From “who should mow the ditches on the Interstate?” to whether or not the death penalty should exist, she said, you’ll never agree with someone on everything.

“When people feel like they know you and they feel like they can trust you, you can disagree respectfully. Which is maybe not what we see on the federal level but it’s something that I prefer to see in my own district,” Howard said.

Howard and Larry Roland made it through primaries in May, but Howard held a much larger vote advantage. Election Day is Tuesday and hours for voting in Douglas County are 8 am. to 8 p.m.

To hear yesterday’s profile of Sara Howard’s opponent, Larry Roland: Click here

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