An Omaha attorney who served as legal counsel to two major legislative committees — the Judiciary and Health and Human Services committees — will kick off his campaign for the Legislature on June 13.
Josh Henningsen, 37, announced his candidacy Monday to serve District 8, which includes midtown, eastern, northern and some southern neighborhoods in Omaha. He is the first person to formally announce for the district now served by Sen. Burke Harr.
The district is a snapshot of Omaha, because it has upper class and working class, immigrants and refugees and younger progressives, Henningsen said. It is also politically active and engaged.
Henningsen is a Democrat, but legislative races are officially nonpartisan.
During his time working in the Legislature, Henningsen worked with Hastings Sen. Les Seiler and Lincoln Sen. Kathy Campbell. He also was a staffer with the Legislature's Justice Reinvestment Oversight Committee, the Department of Correctional Services Special Investigative Committee and the Intergenerational Poverty Task Force.
He has also done policy work for the Nebraska Center for Rural Affairs and currently works for Inspector General for Child Welfare Julie Rogers.
Being a senator is work worth doing, Henningsen said of his decision to run for the legislative seat.
"I was fortunate to work on some pretty big, quality initiatives while I was there," he said.
Those initiatives included juvenile justice reform and prison oversight, areas that still need work and followup, he said. He could add continuity to that work because of his experience with the issues.
Henningsen said he witnessed firsthand how much the Legislature can accomplish when senators work together to put the state's interests first.
He lives on Franklin Street in the Metcalfe-Harrison neighborhood in District 8 with his wife Christine and their three children. He's been president of the neighborhood association three years.
The primary election is May 15.