Problems are solved only after abandoning party lines and working together toward a solution.
It’s a philosophy that Brad has learned through countless experiences in the public and private sectors, and is the driving force behind his candidacy for Mayor of Omaha. Brad is running as an Independent because he wants to put the focus back on the people of Omaha and leave party labels behind.
Brad is the second longest serving senator in the Nebraska Legislature. As Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, he continues to pursue the goals of keeping our communities safe and reducing expenditures. Due to common-sense legislation, he helped bring the state through the national recession and avoided the level of job losses that other communities experienced.
Brad has spent nearly 16 years working with fellow state senators in the Unicameral to advance legislation for Nebraskans. Using the Nebraska Unicameral concept of non-party politics, Brad will incorporate this framework into how he leads the Omaha administration.
“Collaboration and teamwork are the cornerstone of how we will operate,” Brad says. “I will never allow an iron curtain to descend around the mayors office.”
Born on November 10, 1949 in Omaha and raised in a 5th generation Nebraskan family, Brad attended Westside High School and Colgate University. He returned home to receive his JD from Creighton University.
Brad comes from a family with a long tradition of hard work and commitment to social justice. The Ashford family, one of the first European settlers in Dakota County, Nebraska immigrated from Ireland to escape the Irish famine in 1852. Brad is the eldest son of Don Ashford and Ellen Swanson. Don, a Bronze Star recipient and decorated WWII bomber pilot dubbed his B26 The AkSaBen Knight. The plane was manufactured at the Martin Bomber plant, now Offutt. Ellen’s family immigrated from Sweden. Her father Otto Swanson owned and operated the Nebraska Clothing Company. Otto was a well known entrepreneur and philanthropist in Omaha. He established the Midlands NCCJ chapter, now known as the Inclusive Communities.
Brad quickly rose through the ranks of state and federal government. During college, he worked for bipartisan master Senator Roman Hruska of Nebraska, later settling in Omaha to join the law firm Bradford and Coenen to focus on Government Relations and Labor Law. Ashford is an AV-Rated Attorney. In 1984, Governor Bob Kerrey appointed him as Judge to the Commission of Industrial Relations.
In 1985, Brad was elected to represent District 6 in Nebraska’s Legislature. Brad took control of creating jobs during a time when many corporations were looking to move their headquarters elsewhere. Co-sponsoring groundbreaking legislation, LB 775 established a tax friendly platform still used today, spurring economic growth across the state and strengthening key industries.
The young senator fought crime, taking on illegal handguns and developed a permit-to-purchase system while ensuring Nebraskans’ Second Amendment Rights. Brad also directed his attention towards education, raising standards for special education and ensuring fair pay for Nebraska’s teachers. His unique, bipartisan approach to legislating proved useful, working successfully under Governors Ben Nelson and Kay Orr.
Local issues have been the focus of Brad’s civic career, aiming to strengthen tight-knit Nebraskan communities to ensure a long lasting impact for future generations.
“I will always put Omaha first,” says Brad. “Our challenges can be met if we focus on solutions and not on partisan politics.”
In 2004, already deeply involved in Omaha affairs, Mayor Hal Daub appointed him to the difficult task of running Omaha’s Housing Authority. Under Brad’s supervision, the Housing Authority (OHA) went from operating in the black to creating over 300 units of affordable housing, ensuring that all of Omaha’s residents have a safe place to call home.
Mayor Daub called on Brad again to help develop a downtown arena and convention center. Together they secured financing for the Qwest Center, won voter approval for the facility and Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority (MECA), helping to establish Omaha as a leading 21st century river city. The world-class arena was completed on time and on budget. They continue to work together to improve funding for the Qwest Center/Century Link Center and the Lincoln and Ralston arenas.
In 2006, Brad was reelected to the Unicameral in the midst of a crisis involving the protection of boundaries of the 11 school districts in Douglas and Sarpy Counties. With the creation of his landmark Learning Community program, a major blowup was averted and an innovative platform was established to address the achievement gap in the metro area while holding schools accountable for success.
Last session Brad and his colleagues worked to pass legislation on career academies for Nebraska. One of his highest priorities in public office is the development in career education for young people who do not wish to follow a traditional college curriculum. His dream is to have a well-coordinated program for high school students to gain 21st century job training and readiness skills.
“We will create a 21st century city so that years from now, our children will not be burdened by mistakes from the past,” Brad says. “We will always look forward, and we will always look for real, long lasting solutions to tough issues.”
For the last 3 decades, Brad Ashford has been a champion for Omaha’s causes. He has broken down barriers, defied labels, and dedicated himself first and foremost to its people. His success has proven that the solutions necessary to move forward are not partisan but founded on the principles of transparency and efficient collaboration.
Brad is married to Omaha Business Woman Ann Ferlic Ashford. He is a father of three, John, Ellie, and Thomas.
Featured Profiles of Brad Ashford
The Omaha World Herald: Mayoral Candidate Views Independence as a Virtue, March 20, 2013