An internship at the Nebraska Legislature and a career as a civil servant with the City of Omaha are a couple of lines on Joe Hering’s resume he hopes will help him in his bid to become the Unicameral’s next representative from District 12.
A month ago, the 46-year-old Hering became the third candidate to enter the race for the legislative seat representing all of the City of Ralston proper and most of the outlying school district. The seat is currently held by Sen. Steve Lathrop, who is not able to run due to term limits.
Hering, an Omaha Republican in his first run at public office, joins fellow GOP candidate Merv Riepe of Ralston and Democrat Greg Hosch of Omaha in the race, which is officially nonpartisan. Hering said he considers himself to be a moderate on most issues and said if elected he will work hard to foster consensus and build coalitions with fellow lawmakers to do what’s best for Nebraska.
“I do consider myself a fiscal conservative but, as a public administrator, I fully understand we need to take a more moderate approach to what happens in government,” said Hering, who works in inventory control for Omaha. “A lot of that does run counter to what Republicans typically want to see, but I believe in doing what’s best for the public, the community as a whole. (A moderate approach) would be a strong point of mine. One vote won’t pass a bill, you have to build a coalition to even get your bill out on the floor and to do that, you have to work with all the other senators. I’m going to work toward a coalition that’s focused on making life better for all Nebraskans.”
Key issues for Hering, he said, will be the development of a “work-fare” program in the state, a continuing defense of gun rights, support to the state’s farmers and ranchers and keeping salaries for the state’s public school teachers competitive.
While unemployment remains relatively low in Nebraska, Hering said he would like to see the state take a more active role in getting welfare recipients back into jobs. Hering said he spent a brief period unemployed and found there were some roadblocks in trying to return to work.
“I want to make sure we’re giving the unemployed and the people on welfare all the tools we can to get them back into the workforce,” he said. “When I was on unemployment for a little while, it was just aggravating trying to break back in.”
Speaking to more local issues, Hering praised Lathrop’s work in helping to bring the Ralston Arena into being and said he intends on continuing to celebrate Ralston’s past, present and future.
“Ralston is a great community,” he said. “Nebraska has had towns like Millard, Elkhorn, Benson. Ralston has stood resolute and I applaud that independence.”
Hering worked as an intern at the Capitol between 1993 and 1994. He also studied at the Lincoln School of Commerce and later earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in management from Bellevue University.
He said he’s getting into the race to give back to the community and also to use what experience he has had to help position the state for a bright future.
“Really, it comes from a desire to serve,” Hering said. “During my internship at the Unicameral, I got a chance to peek behind the curtain and I feel that was a beneficial experience. I saw that, as a senator, you really only get that one priority bill a year. Everything else, you’re tied to procedure and only so much can get done if everyone’s going different directions. So you do what you can to further things and move forward. There’s a lot of good leadership and good things going on in the legislature and I’d like to be a part of that.”