Spending a year as president of the Nebraska State Bar Association brought Marsha Fangmeyer closer than she had ever imagined to a political office.
“Most of my life, I’ve been involved in some form of public service, serving on a lot of boards,” Fangmeyer said.
Serving as president of the bar association gave her greater experience and put her in front of various committees of the Nebraska Legislature, she said.
So when state Sen. John L. Kuehn of Heartwell announced he would not be running for another term as the District 38 representative in the Legislature, Fangmeyer was excited about the opportunity.
She lives near Lowell in northeastern Kearney County and practices law in Kearney.
“My plan has been to wind down my law practice in the next couple of years, so this came along and it seemed like a nice fit,” she said. “And I think I’d be very good at it.”
Fangmeyer, a Democrat, is facing off against Republican opponent Dave Murman for the District 38 seat. The district encompasses the entirety of Kearney, Phelps, Franklin, Webster, Nuckolls and Clay counties as well as northwestern Buffalo County.
“I’m a good listener and a good learner,” Fangmeyer said. “I like connecting with the people in the 38th District and finding out what is important to them.”
The Nebraska Legislature is a unicameral and officially nonpartisan body that isn’t organized along partisan lines. Candidates’ political party affiliation isn’t noted on the ballot.
During the course of the campaign, Fangmeyer has participated in parades, attended car shows, and spent a lot of time around District 38, at one point making a tour of 18 towns over 12 days. In that tour, she visited community and county officials, leaders of schools, hospitals and nursing homes along with the citizens to find out their concerns.
“What I’m hearing is people are concerned with property taxes,” she said. “People are concerned with making sure we have a better formula for schools and education funding so we’re not solely relying on property taxes.”
Other concerns she heard about involved economic development in smaller communities, job opportunities to keep young people in Nebraska, and affordable housing to go with the jobs.
“It’s all about how do we keep this 38th District a great place to live and improve it as we go,” Fangmeyer said. “That is the things people want to talk about.”
If elected, she said, the three committees she is most interested in serving on are Education, Judiciary, and Health and Human Services.
“Those are things that are right up my alley, given my 39 years practicing law and the things I think are important to the people of the 38th District,” she said.
Fangmeyer said the continuing concerns regarding health care, access to health care services and health care coverage are why the HHS Committee is of interest to her.
“It certainly is one people want to talk about, and that’s everything from improving access to population not getting it because they can’t afford premiums or they don’t have access,” she said.
She said the hospitals and clinics in District 38 are providing great services, and while there aren’t many gaps, there are some people who still have to drive to get services.
Fangmeyer said she would love to see improvements to access to behavioral and mental health services in the district and across the state.
When it comes to hospitals, she said she wants to make sure everyone has access to primary care like vaccinations, reproductive care and preventive medicine.
And in an effort to ensure those services are accessible and affordable, Fangmeyer wants to make sure that there isn’t too much red tape or regulations that work in Omaha but are hurting smaller hospitals, or vice versa.
Keeping nursing homes in operation across the state also is key as the baby boomer generation is aging, Fangmeyer said.
“We have nursing homes that are closing, and yet the baby boomer population is going to be going into those nursing homes and needing them,” she said. “The census may not be at max now, but they’re going to be at a max soon.”
That’s why Fangmeyer said having the nursing and medical staff necessary to also staff nursing homes will be key into the future.
Overall, she said, she has loved traveling District 38 and hopes to continue to do that long into the future if elected.
“The people have great ideas about how to deal with some of these issues, and I see my role as a legislator to support that,” she said.