Omaha school board member Tony Vargas is bidding to become the first Latino state senator to represent South Omaha in the Nebraska Legislature.
Vargas, whose school board term ends this year, credited his primary win to his outreach to voters who felt left out of the political process. He eschewed the playbook of focusing on likely voters for a wider approach of knocking on as many registered voters’ doors as possible, from more affluent downtown neighborhoods to more blue-collar South Omaha.
“About 1,000 of the people who turned out to vote (in the primary) had not voted in the last three cycles,” Vargas said.
He said 18 percent of registered Latino voters in the district, which is about half Hispanic, went to the polls. That’s more than twice what’s normal for a primary.
He’s continuing that effort in the general, campaigning on issues, such as expanding Medicaid, that he sees as helping working families.
Vargas, 32, is a former Teach for America science teacher whose parents came to the United States from Peru. He said he would involve more people in helping to craft policy than had been done before.
“I want to make sure the people who have been disenfranchised are involved,” he said.