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Nebraska Governor-Elect Jim Pillen building cabinet, retaining familiar faces

Posted at 10:44 PM, Nov 30, 2022

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — While he won't take the job until January, Governor-Elect Jim Pillen has plenty of work to do building his administration before he takes office.

"People that have had an incredible impact, Coach Osborne is one of them. Learned a lot of things from him but one of them was there is no such thing as staying the same. We either make ourselves a little bit better, or we get worse," said Pillen.

So far it appears things will stay the same, at least when it comes to state leadership.

The core of Pillen's administration will be his cabinet and if his recent appointments are any indicator, there won't be much difference between Pillen's team and that of his predecessor, Governor Pete Ricketts.

"I think it is perfectly reasonable. They share the same, philosophical and political framework so it really doesn't surprise me at all," said Political Science Professor Randall Adkins with UNO.

Of the seven appointments Pillen has already made, six are carryovers from the Ricketts administration.

  • Tony Goins with the Department of Economic Development
  • Jason Jackson with Administrative Services
  • Eric Dunning with the Department of Insurance
  • John Albin with the Department of Labor
  • John Hilgert with Veterans Affairs
  • Lee Will, The State's Budget Director 

So far the only new face is Nebraska's next Secretary of Agriculture, Sherry Vinton.

All of those being retained have several years of experience in their positions and Adkins says their retention speaks to how motivated they are to continue serving.

"Clearly these are individuals who are happy working in the governor's office and working for the State of Nebraska and want to continue in their position," said Adkins.

Most of Pillen's cabinet though has yet to take shape.

Pillen still has 16 open positions and at least some are likely to be filled with familiar faces.

"I wouldn't be surprised if there are additional appointments that Governor Pillen makes that are serving under Governor Ricketts. But that doesn't mean he won't bring in his own people," said Adkins.

Pillen will officially be sworn in as the governor of Nebraska in early January.

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