Mundo Latino Omaha Interview with Brad Ashford
February 8, 2013
By: Abril Garcia, Mundo Latino Omaha
Mundo Latino got together with Sen. Brad Ashford, a current candidate for Mayor of the City of Omaha. Senator Ashford is a graduate of Creighton University Law school and currently serves on the Nebraska Legislature, he has more than 25 years of experience negotiating sensible solutions to the diverse communities of Nebraska and Omaha; he knows well the challenges that face the state and has faced them as a state senator, as a small business owner and as an attorney.
He has worked with several Governmental Administrations on projects that have taken Omaha a step forward in economic development and social welfare issues.
He is interested in the issues of the Latino community and aware of the population’s demographic changes. For Brad Ashford it is very important to listen to the needs of the community and promote understanding and respect through conflict resolution. The Senator has supported several legislative proposals in favor of immigrants. One of these has been the restoration of prenatal care for pregnant women and another that also resonated nationally was his opposition to LB48, which proposed a scheme similar to that of Arizona’s Legislative proposals.
He firmly believes in the positive benefits brought by immigrants, that is why Mundo Latino wanted to know a little more about the candidate through the following Ten (10) questions:
Mundo Latino: Senator Ashford, I want to thank you for giving us a few minutes of your valuable time. First of all, let me ask what led you to devote yourself to public service and what has motivated you to become a candidate for Mayor of the City of Omaha?
Sen. Brad Ashford: My family motivates me, my grandfather was very active in community service, he started as a member of an organization that is now called Inclusive Communities; since I was a young man I got involved in politics and when I graduated from college I thought government and politics were a way to serve the community. I decided to become a candidate for mayor because my family has done business for many generations here in Omaha and I’ve noticed that there are problems at the government level, especially issues like mental health, juvenile criminal justice, among others and I think it is important to be aware that the work of the Mayor is more complex, as Mayor you must be able to create a system to address all the problems of the community.
Mundo Latino: My second question then is what would it mean for you to become Mayor of Omaha?
Sen. Brad Ashford: As Mayor my role would be to take care of the real problems and come up with solutions, this position will give me the opportunity to speak and be heard, and above all it is a position where people can hear what you have to say and together find the best solutions.
Mundo Latino: The rapid growth of the Latino community in Omaha has changed some of the social, cultural and economic aspects of the city. How important is the Latino vote for your campaign?
Sen. Brad Ashford: It is very important I enjoy the relationship with the Latino community. Since returning to the Legislature, I understand many of the issues facing the Latino community and I want to improve the situation for them. As Mayor I can do that, not just with words but also with deeds; the fact that I sponsored policies for immigrants is part of the benefit I would bring as Mayor. I think it’s important that when there is a need to make changes to any law(s) the Mayor should go to the legislature to state that this is a city with a large population of immigrants and oppose passing any laws that may harm our community, such as restricting voter Registration laws or any other anti-immigrant state law; it is important that the Mayor becomes present at these hearings.
Mundo Latino: You have been a State Senator for many years, how will this experience help you if you become Omaha’s Mayor?
Sen. Brad Ashford: I’ve learned to work and get along with people. No one can solve problems by going to extremes, you solve them by taking them to the center and by avoiding conflict through this process. That’s what I’ve learned, I’ve learned how to deal with people, hear what they have to say, their ideas, without assuming before listening, seeking solutions.
Mundo Latino: What have been some of your greatest achievements as State Senator helping the Latino community?
Sen. Brad Ashford: The Dream Act was one of them, keeping and fighting for it; the opposition to LB48 (an Arizona style law that allowed stopping and questioning immigrants on the suspicion that they were in the state illegally). I will also support, in case they conduct a hearing, issuing driving licenses for young individuals that may benefit from the Dream Act; Another major achievement which I consider important to the Latino community was my support to reset prenatal care to undocumented pregnant women, I think that was the biggest I’ve supported.
Mundo Latino: Briefly describe your campaign plans.
Sen. Brad Ashford: We have been working door to door, walking through the city’s neighborhoods with spectacular results, and to continue to raise money for the campaign.
Mundo Latino: If you are elected, tell me some of the plans on your agenda for the Latino community and South Omaha.
Sen. Brad Ashford: The most important issue is to promote integration with the Latino population and the city. Second is to work with the juvenile justice system; Currently, as a Senator I have been working promoting economic development, promoting jobs that require some skills; linking these jobs with young graduates from the automotive industry, technology and computing are some of the objectives. This will help stop some of the violence among young people; I don’t think there is enough being done currently in these areas.
Mundo Latino: What are the opportunities for economic growth especially in South Omaha?
Sen. Brad Ashford: My compromise is to identify and work creating opportunity zones, innovation zones; having the ability to work with neighborhoods to provide more housing and offer tax incentives to businesses located in areas of opportunity; projects related to housing would generate jobs, businesses, new construction and we would ensure that we would use local workers on those projects.
Mundo Latino: If you are elected, what would you enjoy most as Mayor?
Sen. Brad Ashford: Generating new ideas, creating them, listening to the people and their needs and implementing them into action. Work hard on a path to citizenship so immigrants can contribute with their talents to our beautiful city, I want to see change happen, find solutions.
Mundo Latino: Do you have a message for the South Omaha Community?
Sen. Brad Ashford: I will always stand by you, supporting the Latino community; I want to make things better. I want to share with the rest of the people the contributions made by the Latino community, their history, to Omaha and the State. United, we can resolve conflicts and make Omaha a better place to live.