Reshell Ray may not have experience in politics, but serving the community is in her blood.
The associate director of East Campus programs at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln said her family history and love for helping others influenced her decision to run for Lincoln City Council.
Ray is hoping to represent northwest Lincoln in District 4 on the ballot during the primary election on April 9. Currently, she said she’s seeking signatures to allow her to be placed on the ballot.
Her motivation to run was simply to be a voice for her community, Ray said.
“I love people. I care about people,” she said. “I care about building community and relationships between people. I’ve been able to do that across all classifications of people and go beyond those things that divide or separate us."
She drew inspiration from her father’s campaign to run in her hometown of Pacific, Missouri while she was in junior high school. His campaign sparked a tradition in her family of community service.
“I think to follow in those footsteps of public service would be an honor,” she said.
Ray has shown her dedication to helping the campus community in her 30 years working at UNL, Jake Kirkland Jr, Emeritus assistant director for Office of Academic Success and Intercultural Services, said.
“I’ve watched her grow up over the years that I worked here,” he said. “I found her to be very conscious, very serving of students … trying to be very much inclusive in the things that she does. She has very strong values that she brings to any situation.”
Kirkland said Ray’s personality and love for people are what set her apart as a candidate.
“She has a personality that draws people to her,” he said. “She knows how to connect with people, she’s not overbearing, she just has a very calm demeanor about herself.”
Ray worked as a city planner before her time at UNL, and she said the experience would be useful as a council member.
As a candidate, she said she would strive to keep neighborhoods safe and vibrant and repair roads. Ray said she kept her district’s residents in mind when she formed her goals and focus issues.
“I’ve really enjoyed getting to know people within the district and hearing their concerns and finding ways in which I can help improve those areas where they are concerned,” she said.
Kirkland said Ray would show the same dedication to the city of Lincoln as a councilwoman as she has to UNL.
“She really believes Lincoln is home,” he said. “And she wants to do her part.”