Rsz 7a1a6585

Why I’m Running

En espanol: Conozca a Tony

Tony Vargas has devoted his career to public service and advocacy. He was elected to serve in the Nebraska Legislature in 2016 and began his first term on January 4, 2017.

Prior to his election to the legislature, he served an appointed term of three years to the Omaha Public Schools, serving more than 52,000 students and 86 schools across the city. As both a school board member and a legislator Tony has been a tireless advocate for closing the achievement gap, addressing systemic inequities, and for increasing parent and community engagement. Since his election to the Nebraska Legislature, he has successfully passed legislation on a variety of issues, including equity in education, encouraging technology and innovation, juvenile justice, reforming predatory lending practices, improving consumer protections, and healthcare access. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, he has led efforts to prioritize state funding to benefit the most vulnerable in our communities, especially children and families from low-income backgrounds.

Tony is the son of Peruvian immigrants who worked in manufacturing -- his father, Antonio, a machinist, and his mother, Lidia, an assembly line worker in a factory. Living paycheck-to-paycheck as a young Latino family in New York City shaped his perspectives on jobs, education, and opportunity. Because of these experiences, Tony has always stood up for working families and fought to protect the American Dream.

Tony learned the values of community, hard work, and perseverance from his parents, who, despite their humble beginnings, sacrificed everything to provide their children with an opportunity for a brighter future. His two older brothers also played a key role in his life, paving the way for what was possible. Tony’s oldest brother, Gene, proudly served our country in the United States Navy, and his middle brother, Charles, works in a public school as a bilingual math teacher. As strong community leaders, both brothers mentor, coach, and advocate for underserved youth and their families.

Tony began his career as a public school teacher in New York City with Teach for America. He received the award of “Most Outstanding Teacher” in 2008 from the New York City Council and also received the “Teacher of the Year” award from the local Lions Club. His next role was as an instructional and leadership development coach, where he worked with teachers and school leaders across the highest-need public schools in the New York City Department of Education. As a result of his work, he was appointed to serve on the New York State Board of Education Professional Teacher Standards and Practices Board, where he advised state leaders on education policy impacting teacher support and development. Since then, he has worked in the non-profit and education sectors, striving to improve the quality of life and educational opportunities for thousands of children across the United States.

Vargas is proud to serve as a founding board member for New Leaders Council-Omaha. A first generation college student, Tony earned his Bachelors of Arts degree at the University of Rochester and a Masters in Education at Pace University. He, his wife, Lauren Vargas, and their daughter, Ava, live in the Little Italy neighborhood of South Omaha and are proud Catholic parishioners of St. Frances Cabrini Church.

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