Melissa Temple Announces Candidacy for State Legislature

Melissa Temple Announces Candidacy for State Legislature
February 26th, 2024 | Melissa Temple for Legislature

Melissa Temple of Norfolk publicly announced today that she would seek election to Nebraska’s 19th Legislative District, which includes Madison County and Southern Pierce County. This district is currently represented by Rob Dover who was appointed in 2022 to fill the vacated seat of Congressman Mike Flood. “I want to give voters an alternative choice outside the boxes of our two party system,” said Temple. “I believe leadership is first and foremost about service. I am running for the legislature as an independent candidate in order to make thoughtful decisions on behalf of my constituents, not tied to partisan politics. Being conservative and compassionate are not mutually exclusive, and my faith tradition compels me to work towards justice for the most vulnerable in our community and address social issues with empathetic solutions.”

A daughter of two veterans, Melissa’s family moved to Norfolk over twenty years ago. After college Melissa worked as a special education teacher for ESU #8’s Eastern Learning Center in Norfolk for five years and co-founded and served as the vice president of a local non-profit that worked to combat human trafficking and rehabilitate survivors in Nebraska.

Melissa followed a call to seminary, and after graduating, she returned to Norfolk where she continues to serve her community today as a chaplain with St. Croix Hospice and as an educator for children on the autism spectrum. “Nebraska’s children are our state’s most precious resource and wisest investment. We must prioritize their education, protect their physical and mental health, and carefully manage the natural resources they will inherit. By making this corner of our state a great place to grow up, we can encourage young folks who have left the region for education or career opportunities to return like I did and re-invest themselves back into our community.” In November 2022, Melissa was elected to the board of directors for the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District where she has worked to address District 19’s high levels of nitrates. As a director, Melissa has advocated for good stewardship of the groundwater, regenerative ag practices, flood protection, and outdoor recreation opportunities for our region. As a leader, Melissa stands up for our constitutional freedoms. She has fought for increased government accountability, integrity, and transparency, and is a fierce defender of our First Amendment rights. She filed a federal lawsuit last year to help protect those civil liberties for others.

Melissa currently serves as the vice president of the Norfolk Parks and Recreation board and recently joined the board of The Connections Project, a peer-run non-profit for individuals with mental health and/or substance abuse challenges. Melissa is active with the Norfolk Community Theater, Norfolk Connect, the Nebraska Organizing Project, and was
selected as one of Norfolk’s 2024 “Top 20 Under 40.” In her free time Melissa coaches gymnastics at the YMCA, enjoys walking the Cowboy Trail with her family, and recently completed the Norfolk 101: Citizens Academy.

These many community connections have shaped Melissa’s perception of life in the 19th District and the diverse challenges and needs of this area. “I have spent the past few years listening to and learning from citizens in our community who represent all walks of life. In the legislature I will work to promote rural healthcare access, keep our public schools and community colleges well funded, address our affordable housing and childcare crisis, be an advocate for folks with disabilities and mental health challenges, recommend responsible tax reform, and partner with producers to mitigate the rising nitrates in our groundwater. I hope to be an independent voice for the people of this district and help
make it a place everyone wants to come back home to.” A lifelong learner, Melissa first attended Northeast Community College before eventually transferring to Indiana Wesleyan University where she graduated with a B.S. in K-12 Special Education. She holds an M.A. in Social Justice and M.A. (ABT) in Innovation and Leadership from Kilns College in Bend, Oregon. She most recently attended Princeton Theological Seminary, where she earned an M.Div. with a focus on ethics and political theology and an M.A. in Christian Education with a focus on ecology. While at Princeton Melissa worked on a farm and took classes in political leadership and public policy at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs and was a fellow in Religion, Diplomacy, and International Affairs at Princeton University’s Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination. Melissa is an alumni fellow with the Fellowship at Auschwitz for the study of Professional Ethics (FASPE) and a candidate for ordination with the Presbyterian Church (USA).

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