Lincoln legislative winners: Bolz and incumbents Coash and Haar

Colby Coash addresses a crowd of his supporters at Barry's Bar and Grill in Lincoln, Neb., on Tuesday. Coash, next to his wife, Rhonda, said it had been a long campaign, but the night was about his supporters. On Wednesday, Coash plans to drive around Lincoln, picking up his yard signs. "If there wasn't an end, you wouldn't do it," Coash said. Photo by Emily Walkenhorst | NewsNetNebraska

Story by Bryce Arens, NewsNetNebraska

Two Lincoln incumbents won re-election Tuesday night to the state Legislature while an open seat went to newcomer Kate Bolz.

Incumbent Sen. Colby Coash, a Republican, won re-election by a wide margin over Kyle Michaelis, a Democrat.

In District 21 incumbent Sen. Ken Haar, a Democrat, squeaked by challenger Mike Hilgers, a Republican.

Kate Bolz, a Democrat, was victorious over Larry Zimmerman, a Republican, in another close race, this one for District 29.

For the latest updates on Nebraska legislative races, see this Secretary of State election results page.

The next step for the elected legislators will be deciding what to do with the state’s budget, said UNL political science professor John Hibbing.

“Conversation about the budget will dominate as it has over the last few years,” Hibbing said.

In his second term, Coash said he wants to continue his work with the child welfare system and implement differential response into the programs. The constitutional amendment to extend term limits on legislator’s to three consecutive four year terms did not pass, which Coash sees as a challenge to get things done in his second term.

“Lincoln as a city is losing leadership over the next four years, which puts a responsibility on me to get things done with other leaders in Lincoln,” Coash said.

Coash, 36, introduced a resolution that looks at Nebraska’s child welfare system. He also has advocated for people with disabilities by securing funding for people at the Beatrice State Developmental Center to receive treatment they need.

Coash graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a bachelor’s of arts degree in theater.

Michaelis, 31, is an immigration officer for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. His priorities include working for tax fairness because he says the current tax plan benefits the wealthy and hurts the middle class. He also would promote renewable energy initiatives and look to make childhood education a priority in the state budget.

Michaelis graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a bachelor’s of arts degree in English and political science and a law degree from the University of Nebraska College of Law.

Haar, 68, was the first state senator to call for a special session on the Keystone XL pipeline and has been a leading proponent of environmental issues in the state. He has served on the Legislature’s Education and Natural Resources committees. He was a member of the Lincoln City Council from 1989-1997. He graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in educational administration.

Hilgers, 33,  is the c0-owner of the law firm  Gober Hilgers PLLC. He is a first-time candidate who grew up in Nebraska, went to college at Baylor University and started his business in Texas before moving back to Nebraska to raise his familyHilgers graduated from the University of Baylor with a bachelor’s degree in economics before getting a law degree at the University of Chicago.

His priorities were to cut taxes for working families and small businesses. He also opposed government mandates on the county, city and schools.

Bolz, 33, works for the Nebraska Appleseed Seed Center for Law in the Public Interest, a nonprofit family advocacy organization. She plans to work for tax fairness in the state budget and advocate for a formula that will reduce the dependence on property taxes. She will also work for initiatives that better train workers in the healthcare and manufacturing industries.

Bolz graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan University with a bachelor’s degree in communications and sociology and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan.

Zimmerman, 67, was the former vice president of the Nebraska Farm Bureau. He wanted to lower taxes for workers, families and seniors and  prioritize spending to essential services, education and public safety. He opposed state-funded benefits or in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. He did not want educational solutions to increase property taxes.

Zimmerman graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in secondary education, both from Truman State University.

Elected legislators will begin their terms on Jan. 9, the start of the 2013 legislative session.

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