Many Nebraska Democrats have been wringing their hands a bit over the race for the United States Senate. Ben Sasse has proven to be such a corrupt establishment politician, we need to get him out, and the fear is we don’t have a candidate with the stature to take him on. Well, let your hearts not be troubled. After my first two interviews with our candidates for the nomination, I couldn’t be more proud or more confident that we can nominate someone that is up to the task.
My second interview with our U.S. Senate candidates was with an exceptionally sharp woman who has spent her career serving Nebraska as a mental health professional. Alisha Shelton grew up in the projects of North Omaha, but knew at age 12, she wanted to go to college and achieve something remarkable. She said, “I knew a lot of kids my age that had already given up. They had no hope. They’d already decided their life wasn’t going anywhere.”
She started by being an example to her seven brothers and sisters growing-up in tough circumstances. “School became my safe place,” she said. “I knew if I was there, I was going to have a good day.” After graduating from Burke High School, she went to Xavier College in Louisiana to complete her bachelor’s degree in psychology, which she followed with two master’s degrees – one in clinical counseling and one in human services. Since then she’s been working to make peoples’ lives better.
Until she left to devote time to her campaign, she was the Behavioral Health Clinical Supervisor for the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. “It was eye-opening,” she said. “I had no idea the challenges they faced. It’s not just alcohol. It’s meth and fentanyl, and hopelessness.”
Her work experience is a more than appropriate segue to the issue that means the most to her – Health Care. “Our resources are so limited,” she said. “Rural Nebraska doesn’t have the facilities. We don’t have the doctors or other professionals.” When she started to work in Winnebago there were three to five deaths per week of older patients from complications of diabetes. She helped reduce that number, but experienced an increase in suicide attempts by adolescents. The shortage of resources could not seem more dire. It sounds a lot like the Little Dutch Boy trying to run from hole to hole in hopes of holding back the flood.
She agrees with the need to get everyone covered with health insurance, but is not a fan of Bernie or Elizabeth’s Medicare for All plans. Her fear is that throwing away the coverage that is already in place for millions of Americans will create a dangerous situation. “It’s too complicated,” she said. “We need to get coverage to everyone and the best way to do that is by building on the Affordable Health Care Act, not starting over."
I asked her how she was going to beat Ben Sasse, and she was ready for the question. “The people aren’t happy with him. He’s completely out of touch with Nebraska. Just go to his office. Almost no one on his staff is from Nebraska. They’re all East coast elites. How in the world can they relate to the people they serve?”
Something that stood-out to me as I went through my notes, was how many times Alisha used the word “love.” She wasn’t trying to sound affected or parenthetically noble. There was a personal connection in her words that was easy to see. Nebraska, all of Nebraska, was more than just a place to her. She talked about bringing love back to her community. She talked about bringing love to her work and to the people of rural Nebraska. She talked about being an inspiration to people in need. Contrary to the common animus in our Party today, Alisha is all about positive thinking, positive outcomes and positive opportunities. I could certainly use a dose of her thinking everyday!
“I have more in common with the people of Nebraska than Ben Sasse,” she said. “I refuse to be part of the corruption he represents. The people can see I’m an advocate for them, not billionaires motivated by greed. I’d also be the first woman of color representing Nebraska in the U.S Senate. I can do this.”
In an attempt to continue her campaign through the Corona outbreak, Alisha will be streaming live from her Facebook platform every Sunday. I recommend checking her out. She’s got something to say, that we all need to hear.
Photo provided courtesy of democracyforamerica.com.