A senator’s life: politics and pizza

Above: Sen. Murante and wife Melissa enjoy the view atop Pikes Peak.

Having just been named CEO of his family’s restaurant, new Sen. John Murante and wife Melissa have a lot on their plate. The Gretna senator will divide his time between the Capitol in Lincoln and Big Fred’s Pizza in Omaha.

This leaves little time for cooking at home.

“As business owners, we definitely eat out a lot,” Murante said. “It’s fun to try new places and see what other business are doing in the area.”

While the role of senator certainly creates a more hectic schedule, Murante is accustomed to dividing his time between pizza and politics. Prior to being elected, he worked for five years as a legislative aide to Sen. John Nelson after having managed his 2006 campaign.

“Working here before becoming a senator really gave me a good appreciation of the process,” he said. “On the other hand, there are a lot of meetings and briefings that staffers don’t get to see. That’s definitely been interesting.”

Murante says politics has been a lifelong passion for him. As a student, he read all the books on former President John F. Kennedy that he could get his hands on.

“He’s a person who appeals to folks who have a grand vision of what society could be,” Murante said.

He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Nebraska — Lincoln.

With regard to his first legislative session, Murante is taking a thoughtful approach. He named tax reduction and the Learning Community of Douglas and Sarpy County as his primary interests, but said he intends to focus on listening more than talking his first year as a senator.

“I want to make sure to become an expert before diving in and tackling the tough issues,” he said.

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