SENIOR ONLINE REPORTER
Since 2004, District 3 candidate Cammy Watkins has been involved with community organizing and worked with various non-profit organizations like Sierra Club, Habitat for Humanity of Omaha, and Inclusive Communities. She also produced a special concert performance of the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” as a senior at Cornell College to benefit LGBTQ+ youth to working in many nonprofit organizations
Watkins is inspired to connect the community with the City Council after attending non-profit organization, Inclusive Communities on a tour of the city of Cleveland lead by their City Council Members familiar to their districts.
“I was just blown away by how connected these two men were to their community and the economically enhancing ideas and policies that they were putting in place, and one of the guys, as we were driving down the neighborhood waved at the people and they knew him,” Watkins said. “He was super connected to his community and that drove the policy decisions that he was making, and I don’t think we have that as much here or not enough.”
Watkins said her community involvement within many facets of the city including business, education, government agencies, and schools while creating a grassroots movement with the neighboring associations makes her priorities her goals for running in District 3.
“My work with Habitat for Humanity is when housing really became a passion for me after recognizing how it can be life changing for people, so I know that housing was definitely something that I wanted to do,” Watkins said.
Watkins’ campaign focuses on essential demands from constituents in District 3 including equitable housing, food security, expanding public Wi-Fi access, and community care after the impact of COVID-19.
“COVID for all of the curses that has brought us shined light on the vert stark realities of many people in our community that not all of us are okay about,” Watkins said. “My community engagement shaped all of the policies including, housing, of course to know for sure for what I wanted to do.”
Watkins plan to expand public access in cultural centers like the library along with exterior access in public places like the Old Market and Midtown through public and private partnerships with many local businesses modeled after Council Bluff’s public access model.
“Not only is there lack of access for affordability for some people to have internet in their homes but our infrastructure and broadband speeds are so low in certain areas in our town and it’s pretty strenuous to the lower income areas of the town,” Watkins said. “With better infrastructure put in place in our eastern areas of town, it can then increase the broadband, which then makes it better for businesses in and for entrepreneurs because I think we’ve got a lot of brilliant people in our communities that don’t have access to tools to maximize their talents.”
Watkins said food insecurity is an issue that can be solved in Omaha with community-based agriculture supported by organizations like No More Pots, The Big Garden, City Sprouts, and Whispering Roots, who invest in these community gardens.
“If we look at a community-based agriculture of eight people, they were able to grow and produce their own foods when we have crisis like COVID-19 and it’s not just vegetables because people were also able to be their own butchers and local producers,” Watkins said.
Watkins plans to encourage the community to invest in locally sourced food to create job opportunities for entrepreneurs and to decentralize the food network in addition to public health concerns of meat packaging plant workers.
“We should not be putting people’s lives at risk for food, that shouldn’t have be a decision to make,” Watkins said.
“As we think about our public power and investing more renewables, having decentralized access to these resources in where people in communities are in direct need by growing food in the area can help them support and serve each other,” Watkins said. “There’s no reason for us in an agricultural state with brilliant minds around how we can do regenerative agriculture and community-sourced urban farming for us to have people that are going hungry.”
Watkins hopes to provide a voice for constituents if elected in District 3 but also for many to see the importance of local elections. She said democracy doesn’t stop at elections.
“If you’re a person that understands the value in the importance of the what our City Council can provide like housing and community investments, find a friend and make sure that you become an educator for the next person to you,” Watkins said. “You don’t have to be able to vote to still be an educator and help make sure that everyone has an active part in our participatory democracy.”