Less than a week after winning the District 24 legislative seat, Jana Hughes was in orientation.
“Here we go,” she said Nov. 15. “I’ve hardly had time to be excited about it.”
Hughes will replace Mark Kolterman, who served two terms as the District 24 senator. The district includes Seward, York, Polk and part of Butler counties. Both Hughes and Kolterman are from Seward.
Hughes is a 1989 graduate of Seward High and a 1993 graduate of Texas A&M with a degree in industrial engineering. She is married to John Hughes and has three children, Lena, Anna and Hank.
The family stayed up Nov. 8 to see if she won, Hughes said. They started the evening at Bottle Rocket, but were back home before midnight. Both Lena and Anna were home from Kansas City and Kansas University, respectively.
Lena is an ICU nurse, and Anna is an accounting and finance major at KU. Hank is a junior at Seward.
“We kept refreshing the website,” Hughes said.
She said it took some time for York County to post its results, which was what she was waiting for.
“About 1:45, Dr. (Patrick) Hotovy texted his congratulations,” she said.
Hotovy, who lives in York, ran against Hughes for the District 24 seat.
By 8:30 Wednesday morning, Hughes had already received a phone call from another senator.
“Wednesday everyone was texting,” she said.
She taught her boot camp class, which lasts about an hour, and when she got back to her phone she had 43 messages and three missed calls.
She said orientation has been interesting, with sessions on leadership styles, mediation and negotiation, how to track expenses and the different offices in the capitol.
A history of the unicameral, budget making and a mock session were still to come, she said.
Hughes said, whether she had won or lost the election, she felt she’d won.
“I love our district so much,” she said. “I’ve always loved Seward. This made me get to York.”
Throughout the district, she said she met great people. Her favorite thing about campaigning was going door to door and meeting people.
“We have awesome people and awesome places,” she said. “The small-town pride is so Nebraska.”
She said she found the district to be cohesive and loved going to “the old farmer coffees.”
“They remind me of my dad and grandpa,” she said.
Hughes said she won’t know her office assignment until after she’s sworn in Wednesday, Jan. 4. Katie Quintero, who was Kolterman’s administrative aide, is staying on Hughes’s staff, and she was looking for a legislative aide.
Senators are able to request committees on which to serve, and Hughes asked to be on the education, telecommunications/transportation and agriculture committees.
She chose education because “I want to help be part of the solution for funding schools,” she said.
Telecommunications and transportation was at the top of her list because she wants to see rural broadband across the state.
As she looks ahead to her first term in office, Hughes said she plans to schedule times to meet residents around the district.
“I can’t wait to represent us,” she said.