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Gov. Ricketts appoints Kathleen Kauth to fill Omaha district vacancy

Dist. 31′s new state senator said she is ‘very pro-life’ and supports Constitutional carry
WOWT Kathleen Kauth and Gov. Ricketts
WOWT Kathleen Kauth and Gov. Ricketts
Published: Jun. 6, 2022 at 4:34 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 7, 2022 at 11:28 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - Gov. Pete Ricketts on Tuesday announced Kathleen Kauth of Omaha as his appointee for Legislative Dist. 31.

She was immediately sworn into office, and Ricketts said she is planning to run for the seat in November.

“I never really saw myself as a person who would run for office,” she said. “My master’s degree is public policy; I’ve also been interested in policy and interested in what goes on around it. As we’ve seen, it takes people to actually get involved to make change, to keep things going, and keep the wheels on the bus moving, so I’m thrilled to be able to serve as the senator for LD31.”

Ricketts said five people applied and four were interviewed — but that he “also talked to some other candidates as well.” He said he chose Kauth for her business experience, her expertise in public policy, and her community activism on issues affecting aging residents.

The governor said the new state senator’s family moved to Nebraska in 2012. A graduate of Northern Iowa University, she obtained her degree in criminology and sociology, her master’s degree in public policy, and also holds a certificate from UNO in gerontology. She has served on the Nebraska Aging Advisory Committee as well as other Omaha, regional, and state aging boards and committees. Kauth has also previously served with Millard Public Schools as well as the Omaha City Charter Commission.

“Kathleen is a perfect fit to represent Dist. 31,” Ricketts said.

Kauth will fill the seat representing the Millard area until Jan. 3, but Ricketts said she plans to be on the ballot in November. She said she has been out working to collect the 2,000 petition signatures required to appear on that ballot, in many cases educating the public on that process.

“As she comes to the Legislature, she is going to be looking to be able to continue to control spending so we can continue to provide tax relief. She wants to make sure we have strong schools that support our students, and also wants to make sure that we are cutting the red tape on small businesses that ultimately create most of the jobs here in our country.”

ABORTION STANCE

Asked about whether Kauth’s stance on abortion was also a factor in her selection, Ricketts said: “I always look to appoint pro-life candidates because this is a pro-life state.”

Kauth verified she is “very pro-life” and would have voted for the bill that came forward in the previous session. She said she “thought the bill that was recently presented was a very solid one. And I look forward to being able to vote on something; we need to look at everything that comes forward. ... I consider it an honor to be able to vote on something, and it is the state’s responsibility to vote on these issues. This is something that should never have been a federal issue. Every state needs to decide this on their own, and it needs to be local.”

Ricketts said that if he calls a special session of the Unicameral to take up that issue, “I fully intend it to be successful.”

GUN CONTROL STANCE

She said she supports “Constitutional carry,” also known as “permitless carry,” and would have voted in favor of last session’s bill on that matter as well.

She said she had spoken with several Omaha Police officers on the matter.

“I understood the amendment that was pressed,” she said. “I think there’s a happy medium somewhere where we respect what law enforcement officers are telling us about their specific location and how much that will impact them. But again, if it’s in the Constitution, that is the highest law of the land.”

ABOUT THE DISTRICT

Dist. 31 covers part of Douglas County in southwest Omaha, including most of the Millard neighborhood, and was left vacant after State Sen. Rich Pahls of Omaha died on April 27.

In May, Gov. Ricketts announced his office was looking for applicants to fill the vacancy.

Kauth will serve in the Nebraska Unicam until Jan. 3, 2023. Voters will elect a new member to represent the district during the November 2022 general election. The newly elected member will serve from January 2023 to January 2025.

Digital producer Jacob Comer contributed to this report.

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