Election 2022: Nebraska Governor’s Race candidates participate in forum

10/11 NOW at Ten
Published: Feb. 3, 2022 at 10:17 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - If you’ve seen any ads lately you know the race for Nebraska’s next governor is taking shape.

Thursday, the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce hosted an event for six candidates talking about priorities when it comes to things like job creation and the economy.

The format of this event was a forum, instead of a debate-style, which means candidates knew questions ahead of time and there was no time for rebuttals or to respond to each other’s answers. It resulted in a pretty tame first-showing as a group.

In attendance today were six candidates, five Republicans, and one Democrat. Over the course of about an hour and a half, the group was asked three questions.

The first: We are a relatively high-tax state, both in terms of income taxes, which affect all our businesses, and property taxes, which particularly affect our agriculture businesses. We are also a state that values quality schools, infrastructure investment, and local control. How would you specifically address taxing and spending as governor to create a better environment for all businesses in Nebraska?

“Our local government because of the state are so overwhelmed and overburdened with underfunded mandate no matter what sexy talk you enter about taxes you will never see real property tax relief until that is resolved,” said Carol Blood, a Democrat and current Nebraska state senator.

“What we need a tax cut for is for teachers, hospital workers, small business owners, people on the street that are the engine of our economy,” said Charles Herbster, a Republican businessman and farmer.

The second question: With historically low unemployment rates, Nebraska businesses identify the workforce as their most significant obstacle right now, especially 18- to 34-year-old talent. Our communities say enhancing housing, childcare, community amenities, and immigration policy can help, in addition to building Nebraska’s welcoming reputation. Describe your plans to grow the workforce and population, and would you please speak specifically to at least one of these community priorities?

“Working with local communities and the legislature to build a foundation with investing in economic innovation and giving the tools to our entrepreneurs, but also building on our tax code,” said Brett Lindstrom a Republican and current Nebraska state senator. “Building that foundation to continue to grow Nebraska.”

“The biggest issue of all is getting people to understand the government’s not going to come in and solve your problems. Each community is going to figure it out for themselves,” said Jim Pillen a Republican who currently serves as a Regent at UNL and a farmer.

The third question: Blueprint Nebraska identified two key areas for Nebraska to become more economically competitive – attracting talent and accelerating innovation, research, and technology. What ideas do you have for making Nebraska more competitive in innovation over the next decade?

“Quality broadband to the entire state that can be used from large businesses and corporations and local businesses. Next thing is a ready infrastructure - build it and they will come,” said Breland Ridenour a Republican who currently works as an IT manager. “Next thing is to get the government out of the way. We know innovation flourishes when the government reduces regulations.”

“The Nebraska Innovation Campus. but why should that just be here in Lincoln? Why can’t we partner that campus up with incubators that I mentioned earlier so that we can have innovation and agribusiness and technology all over the state?” said Theresa Thibodeau a Republican and former Nebraska state senator.

This race will be narrowed to two candidates in 96 days.

Nebraska’s primary is May 10 and the general election is November 8.

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