Democrat Megan Stock, 32, is an art and computer-science teacher vying to represent District 2 in southeast Lincoln on the City Council.
She faces Republican Richard Meginnis in the May 7 general election. Reporter Riley Johnson recently interviewed Stock about her upbringing, path to politics and challenges in a district represented by a Republican for 20 years.
Growing up: She grew up in Snyder, the oldest of three children. Her father worked in maintenance at Smeal Manufacturing, which makes fire trucks, and her mother worked as a dietary manager at a nursing home. She attended Scribner-Snyder Community Schools. Five days after graduating from high school, Stock moved to Lincoln to study at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
There she forged her love of photography and interest in education into a career as an art teacher, she said.
Family: Megan and her husband, Andy Stock, met while both worked at a law firm. They moved to North Platte after she got hired to teach in Wallace and he worked at Legal Aid of Nebraska. There they had their daughter, Izeyl. After three years in North Platte, they moved back when she was hired at Lincoln Public Schools.
Politics: Stock realized she was a Democrat during high school, when she often had to give extemporaneous speeches on George W. Bush's policies. She'd never thought about getting involved in politics even though her grandmother served on a city council and became the first female mayor of Dodge. "You don't actually run for those things, you just pick the shortest straw," she joked. Following her husband's unsuccessful run for Lancaster County treasurer last year, she saw how local elections work, and she realized she had a lot of thoughts. She saw how his campaign propelled issues he ran on into action. She was drawn to city council since it's a hyper-local governing body, and as the city considered adding more school resource officers, she worried about inadequate representation.
"You guys got any teachers in that room, or are you just making decisions based on the last time you were in school?" she recalled thinking.
Government should be representative of its constituents, she believes.
Her key priorities: First, she believes the city should look at ways to invest in early childhood education, which she believes would help middle-class people and draw families to Lincoln.
Second, the city should fully implement zero-fare busing so there's one fewer car on the road, she said. She believes that would increase ridership while reducing stress on the roads and traffic congestion and benefiting the environment.
Third, ensuring environmental sustainability and how Lincoln can be resilient amid a changing climate are front-of-mind in the city's decision-making process, she said.
Running for a longtime Republican seat: She knew campaigning for the seat Lincoln businessman Jon Camp has held for 20 years would be a challenge, but the moment was right and it was her district, she said. "This was a good time for us familywise, so we decided to go for it."
Defining moment: The birth of her daughter changed her life, she said.
She believes there's a lot of truth in the quote "Having kids is like watching your heart being carried around by someone else, and they're really reckless with it."
City growth and role of government: Stock believes the city shouldn't be letting developers siphon property tax dollars through tax-increment financing in projects where the developers are capable of building without an effective public subsidy.
"Maybe we need to hold off (with TIF) and see if they don't build it," she said.
The city's growth has been a important but an overemphasized focus in recent years, she said.
"Residents in my district feel like that's all that people care about, is building and growing, and what a lot of voters feel is that we also need to be taking care of the people we already have."
Why vote for her: "I don't have any conflicts of interest. I'm not representing any commercial companies downtown or anything like that, so I will actually be looking out for families and residents of Lincoln."