Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series called “Campaign Breakthroughs.” Campaign Breakthroughs will highlight races that are breaking glass ceilings or shine the spotlight on the campaign worlds ground breaking achievements. As an openly gay candidate for office, it might seem wisest to flock somewhere with a prominent LGBT community that already enjoys representation in politics. After all, it’s common sense that an LGBT person campaigning in more urban, liberal strongholds would face substantially fewer challenges than they might elsewhere. But James Michael Bowers is not interested in hedging his bets. Uninterested in what the conventional wisdom might say, he remains focused on effectively serving the community he calls home. That’s why he decided to run for Nebraska’s 46th State Legislative District, which encompasses the north side of Lincoln. A lifelong resident of the city and a longtime homeowner in the neighborhood of Havelock, James is motivated by the pride he takes in his hometown and the desire he feels to improve the lives of his neighbors. Ever since he was a student at Northeast High School, civic engagement has been a huge priority for James. His involvement in local issues can be traced back to those school days, when he helped operate a food distribution site in North Lincoln that provided low-income families with supplemental groceries. James brings years of social work and non-profit experience to the table, both of which have helped him develop a keen ear for his would-be constituents’ biggest concerns. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Northeast Family Center for the past five years, and is a member of the Board of Directors for Fresh Start, a transitional living facility for homeless women in Lincoln. His work helping youth and families navigate foster care leaves him well-positioned to advocate for improvements within the child welfare system. If elected, James will become the first openly LGBT person to serve as a state legislator in Nebraska. Having an authentic LGBT voice in the statehouse would be critical for advancing equality in the state; alongside a statewide ban on same-sex marriage, Nebraska currently does not offer any protections to discrimination in housing and employment practices based on LGBT status. Although one candidate isn’t enough to ensure equal representation, even a single LGBT voice goes a long way towards bringing equality to the forefront of the political conversation. Have a Campaign Breakthrough? Email [email protected] with your breakthrough ideas.