Senator features

Bostar follows own path to the Capitol

Above: Sen. Eliot Bostar with son, Dexter, and wife, Carrie.

Before Lincoln Sen. Eliot Bostar decided to run for the Nebraska Legislature, he asked for guidance from an old friend: Bill Moyers.

Moyers, a journalist who served as press secretary in the Johnson administration, is a family friend who Bostar said has played a “significant and deeply important role” in his life. Moyers, an ordained Baptist minister, even officiated at Bostar’s wedding.

“He was exceedingly supportive,” Bostar said, “and I’m exceedingly grateful for that.”

Bostar said his mentor has always encouraged him to work hard, learn as much as he can and help people whenever he can — to push himself.

It’s a directive that Bostar followed as early as his high school days, when he chose to attend a military academy in Wisconsin. There he joined the flying program with the goal of becoming a naval aviator.

“It seemed like the most challenging,” he said. “I’ve never been particularly good at trying to find the easy path.”

A failed eye exam ended that dream, but Bostar studied aerospace engineering and business at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida, where he met his wife, Carrie.

After graduation, Bostar returned to New York, where he worked on infrastructure, homeland security and economic development projects — including reconstruction of the World Trade Center site — as a special advisor in the governor’s office.

As a state senator, Bostar’s portfolio is even broader, which is good for someone who says he likes learning something new every day. Whenever he wonders how something works, Bostar said, he picks up the phone and asks.

“People are more than happy to tell you,” he said. “That’s the biggest perk of the job.”

Right now, Bostar said, he is trying to keep up with the bills that come before his committees — Revenue and Banking, Commerce and Insurance — a task made more difficult by the pace of all-day hearings.

“You feel very fortunate to be in a position to do this work at all,” he said. “You just want to do the best job you can, even on the hard days.”

Back in 2013, Bostar brought that work ethic to Nebraska when he moved here to start his current job, as executive director of two conservation-related nonprofits.

Although he was raised in Brooklyn, it was a homecoming of sorts. Every summer growing up, Bostar traded his “fairly regimented” life in the city for the freedom of his family’s farm in southeastern Nebraska, where he built fences and carried irrigation pipes with his cousins.

Bostar, whose son, Dexter, turns 2 in March, said most people — especially farmers like his family — care about the natural environment and want to conserve it for future generations. Although his fellow senators might disagree on how best to do that, he said, many of them will measure their success in the Legislature in the same way.

“Are we making a better place for our children and our grandchildren?” Bostar said. “Let’s start from that.”

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