Nebraska Farm Bureau Candidate Forum: Opinion

Sunday, Dec 5th, the Nebraska Farm Bureau hosted a forum with a full table of candidates for Governor of Nebraska. Our founder & Leader, Allie French, made the few hour trip to be in attendance as to provide an in person take on the day’s events.

Let’s jump right in! The following videos are clipped down to each section: opening statements, question & answers 1-7, and closing statements. We have highlighted our takeaway as well as a summary of thoughts for each candidate.

Opening Statement

Theresa Thibodeau – Experience with every level of Government

Brett Lindstrom –

Jim Pillen –

Charles Herbster – Member of the Farm Bureau, 5 companies 5 different states

Michael Connely – We need apprenticeships in schools

Breland Ridenour – Misspoke, rough start

Question 1

Theresa Thibodeau – Everyone is suffering a labor shortage, make the state more attractive to young people, tax reform, economic development, rural medical care

Brett Lindstrom – Unemployment is bad, but not that bad. “In last couple years” preferred over due to pandemic. Rural broadband #1 thing Governor should be involved in, lead.

Jim Pillen – Stop the brain drain. Broadband, selling our products, bring people here.

Charles Herbster – Was just at the border. Importance of legal immigrations, how the country was founded. Property tax to encourage people to come. Market Nebraska

Michael Connely – Shortages due to Washington DC, no problem in 4-6 mo, worked in foreign countries – ours more complicated, make small office on other side of the border to register. Brain drain. Initiatives.

Breland Ridenour – Do not prioritize immigrants over Americans. We grew by 5k. People able to work should not get benefits. Use technology.

Question 2

Theresa Thibodeau – Rewrite entire tax code. TOSA not working. Must happen on the local level – Governor must lead and help elect down ballot bold leaders to work together. Stand up to lobbyists.

Brett Lindstrom – Amidst doing that as Senator. Disconnect between rural and urban. Go back to original intent of TOSA. No 1 on agenda, tax reform.

Jim Pillen – Equitable. “We’re Nebraskans, we’re about being fair. We’re about treating each other equitably.” TOSA, incredibly complicated, no one can fully explain it, to outdated. Nebraska has an obligation to have funding for every student.

Charles Herbster – “We have worked very hard” who’s we? Senator Erdman endorsement. Rewrite the entire tax structure for our state, entitlements, consumption, property, TOSA. Parents empowerment to choose education for THEIR children: including homeschool.

Michael Connely – Educational Director high-level academic school, Japan accomplishes much more than us, initiatives to remove NDE with Office of Education under the Governor’s control. Excessive amounts of technology in classrooms – lazy educators and pupil attention.

Breland Ridenour – Governor does not have authority to change property taxes. Direct the legislature. Top priority. Stop it with the “use it or lose it”, incentives to give the left-over money back to aid other schools.

Question 3

Theresa Thibodeau – We need to have a vision. Is broadband really our future? Maybe satellite. More safe and secure. Broadband is now but we need to look at the future.

Brett Lindstrom – “The goal is to become Silicon Prairie.” We have ARPA funds. Nebraska will, in the next year, have more money than we’ll know what to do with. The next governor must take over the current governors plan.

Jim Pillen – Broadband access is essential. Grow economy. Fiscal conservative, bonding. Market holes – state step up. Pandemic left kids behind.

Charles Herbster – “Wouldn’t it be great if Nebraska was the Silicon Valley of the Midwest? We can do that.” Soooo, did Herbster pay for broadband in Falls City?… that great public to private relationship. Broadband package from the east to west. Attract tech, ag business, change tax base. 135k in last 10 years increase in population. Brand and market Nebraska.

Michael Connely – It’s important how we do it (implement broadband). Schools cause radiation detectors to sing. Fiberoptic cables, NO towers anywhere. Federal Communication Commission lost 11k pages of dangers of 5g.

Breland Ridenour – How do we have accountability? I’ve worked with service providers for years. People need to receive the promised speeds. I will ensure there is oversight over such projects.

Question 4

Theresa Thibodeau – If no tax reform, must continue with incentives. Skeptical of incentives, must ensure not picking winners and losers. Give to people just getting started or with new ideas. No monopolies taking advantage of new and emerging farmers.

Brett Lindstrom – Very pro ethanol. Passed a tax credit bill. Algae for salmon farms. ADM, companies built around it. Incentives until tax reform is done.

Jim Pillen – Our AG has flourished since 08. Local level needs to stand up and have less government involvement. Business can solve the problems, get government out of the way.

Charles Herbster – Ethanol is huge. Takes 35% of our corn, 25 facilities. We just have to make sure is that we get a return on investment. US is the only place of business that can print money and spend, doesn’t work for the state, doesn’t work for local businesses. Gonna be open minded. Add jobs, add benefits, pays itself over time.

Michael Connely – We are not secure in our cattle industries. Made some comment to Herbster. Need biodiesel and ethanol. In emergency we need base industry. Cut wasteful spending in government to cover new costs.

Breland Ridenour – Easy yes, we should re-invest into our own state ventures. Let’s consider everything that helps Nebraskans. Where is the money coming from? If federal, comes with string, we need to be sure the money won’t come back to bite us.

Question 5

Theresa Thibodeau – Taxes out of balance for years. Affected ag/rural communities. Reform entire tax system. Inheritance tax makes passing down farms burdensome. Needs to be done at the city, county and local school board. Look at spending, reduce government waste.

Brett Lindstrom – 1967 tax code with band aids over 175 exemptions. Break it down to fundamental core. Can no longer penalize people. A little problem with consumption, lose county control. Passed largest tax cut in last 2 decades, phased out over next 10 years. Tax reform long overdue.

Jim Pillen – It’s time for transformative tax change to become competitive. Transformative change for Nebraska. Have an income based approach. Control at the local level for spending.

Charles Herbster – Rewrite, restructure tax base. As Governor, not gonna be in Lincoln, gonna be all across the state. Consumptions based tax. SD SC TX TN as examples.

Michael Connely – When the government sets something up, you know they always screwed up. The balance isn’t the problem. We waste a tremendous amount. Change welfare into a work program. Change programs and save a lot of money. Overall balance unaware, feel free to tell me. Sends to website to comment about taxes.

Breland Ridenour – I don’t think we need to balance taxes. We need to have taxes that work for Nebraskans. Suggests consumptions taxes, brings in more revenue, reduces taxpayers bill. Governor must lead legislature to prioritize, eliminate inheritance, income, and property taxes.

Question 6

Theresa Thibodeau – Our famers are good stewards of the land. They care the most about our land. No need for regulation. In favor of the free market to take care of things. Federal government is encroaching. Leading on making ethanol carbon neutral.

Brett Lindstrom – Ogallala Aquaphor, vitally important. Next governor may have to file lawsuit against Colorado. Incentives for conservation. Good stewards but new, good technology. Not mandatory, voluntary. Precision AG.

Jim Pillen – Don’t need federal government in the way. Ogallala Aquaphor is the pot of gold. Nebraskans protect our water and surface waters. Most stringent environmental law. Sustainable. Process here. We feed the world, we save the planet.

Charles Herbster – Less taxes, less (federal & state) government, less control, committed to less of all of that.

Michael Connely – Farmers want to make their land the best it can be. Coming out of a mini ice-age into an average period. Carbon credits made other countries a lot of money.

Breland Ridenour – Be open to what communities need and what they’re trying to accomplish. Keep state and federal government out of the way. Travel across the state to determine local needs.

Question 7

Theresa Thibodeau – Invest in projects that increase revenues for farmers. Look at funds and what area, no funding new pet projects, focus needs to be tax relief.

Brett Lindstrom – 1 time spend: broadband (#1), roads (rural highways)

Jim Pillen – Roads and broadband is great, but our federal government is outta whack. BIG Gov SOCIALISM. We’re not gonna take all federal money, not while they’re printing and spending.

Charles Herbster – The US is broke. Anytime we take even 50 cents from the federal government, it comes with strings attached.

Michael Connely – Brentonwoods agreement. Government can print anytime they want and the rest of the world carries the burden. If no strings attached, look for the greatest return.

Breland Ridenour – The country is broke, but we can’t ignore Nebraska’s needs. We need better roads, broadband, re-investment for processing and tax relief, build infrastructure to attract business.

Closing Statement

Theresa Thibodeau – Wants endorsement of Farm Bureau. Next Governor must report to the citizens and listen to the citizens and give them a seat at the table. Work with all other local authorities and legislature. Servant’s heart. Passion for Nebraska.

Brett Lindstrom – This election is about the future generations. In this for my kids. Experience and next generation leadership. I have relationships with current senators. Political will, rising above special interests in NE, success in legislature – 60 bills passed, energy to accomplish these tasks, bold, competitive

Jim Pillen – Next 10 years more impactful than the founding of our state. Whole life is Nebraska. Make sure our kids are skilled, need internships, decrease taxes, strengthen ag

Charles Herbster – Because I’m concerned about the entire country, in the last 7 months as we left Afghanistan, crisis on the border, open border affects every state and city. Affects culture. Drugs coming over the border. Put state logo on everything we manufacture and produce. We have to go outside the state and country.

Michael Connely – Be nice to the candidates. I have a team running with me. Important things to me, medical freedom, election integrity. All the other candidates should love them…

Breland Ridenour – I am the youngest candidate, I have the energy and passion. Must be able to work with others. Fighting alongside Nebraskans at meetings, rallies, etc, shoulder to shoulder.


Theresa Thibodeau – Theresa was a much more confident at this forum. Her platform focus hits: experience and connections within all levels of government, and the need for local and citizen input. She noted the understanding that no one cares more about Nebraska than Nebraskans and that they don’t need government interference. She was the only candidate to suggest an alternative solution to internet access other than broadband, as she called out looking to the future and not ending up behind. This forward thinking rather than reactive thinking was refreshing. While satellite might not be THE ANSWER, it was good to hear someone coming at it from another angle. Her stance on standing up to lobbyists, monopolies, and new pet projects in leu of additional federal funding were very well stated.

Brett Lindstrom – Typically Brett does a wonderful job working the stage and presenting his message to the public, maybe it was due to the additional candidates that were present, the only explanation acceptable for his Silicon Prairie comment. After assessing his responses, it seems Brett’s plan is to continue with the current plans of our state government on through his potential service as our next Governor. It is important to have a working relationship with one’s colleagues. In consideration to Lindstrom mentioning his record as a Senator, one must ask themselves, whether that record is the direction Nebraska wishes to continue on and if being buddy-buddy with these colleagues has been serving in the best interest of Nebraskans? On the flip-side, due to his personal work with and understanding of Nebraska’s agricultural and tax related law, his insight on the plans for this upcoming session likely leads him to answer differently than the candidates that are not privy to such information. This could absolutely provide the smooth transition into service as governor that Lindstrom alludes to.

Jim Pillen – This is the first interaction had with Pillen. There were prejudices due to his position as a Nebraska State University Regent and his allowance of CRT within the state universities outside the specific class. It was not until Jim Pillen was called out that he took any position or level of action against the CRT occurring within the public educational institutions. However, he further confirmed his comfortability with the indoctrination occurring within our public school systems when he referred to Nebraskan’s desire to be “equitable”. This is a term used within CRT that sounds a lot like equality but is more closely relateable to redistribution of opportunity, wealth, etc. His insistence for less government regulation, interference and acceptance of federal dollars was a great thing – he answered with confidence in that area. Unfortunately, the good was clouded by the leftist terms scattered throughout his answers.

Charles Herbster – We too want Nebraska to be successful and prosperous, but not at all costs. The desire for Nebraska to be the Midwest Silicon Valley is cringe-worthy to say the least. Marketing and branding a company are an important part of growing a business, but businesses can have many different goals. The goal being picked up by Herbster’s message is that we need to grow our population quickly by bringing in more people… while more people is good… consider the expansion that occurs when massive numbers of people come here, and who are these people going to be? If the intention is for Nebraskans to continue to be able to pass on their home, business, land, etc – where will all the new people go? Herbster also took a strong stance on less government interference, EVEN at the state/local level. He also made note to mention school choice as well as including homeschooling. Herbster has great answers for those with a desire to expand but comes up short on those hoping to retain our humble, small town feel, personable and unique communities. The idea of him not being in Lincoln much but continuing to travel across the state was an interesting idea he suggested, we wonder how that might work.

Michael Connely – It is clear that Connely does not cater to any level of the leftist’s narrative. He touts the education in Japan as far superior and encourages the implementation of agriculture and apprenticeships into our school curriculums. He also calls for the cutting out and replacement of wasteful or abusive systems within our government. Lastly, Connely mentioned his running team and that they have initiatives available for people to sign (you can read more about these initiatives here.)

Breland Ridenour – A little bit of a rough start, not typical for this candidate. He did however show a solid understanding of the responsibilities of governor, the legislature, and that of We the People. With a “lack of experience” and “young age”, he is proving he’ll take the time to ensure he has a thorough grasp of how he can best serve Nebraskans. Ridenour encourages the embracement of technology and notes the importance of ensuring a system that provides oversight and accountability as technology is implemented across the state. He reiterates a few times the importance of prioritizing the will and needs of Nebraskans over special interest groups and non-citizens of Nebraska with a 360° view on the issue at hand and the solutions taken in response.

Until Next Time!

Thank you for taking the time to be involved in the race for our next Governor. With the current climate in our society, those we elect to serve We the People, is vitally important to our success and happiness within our communities. NAGO will continue to provide updates and share our thoughts throughout the next year as we aim to preserve our Liberty and hold government accountable.

NAGO currently supports the Ridenour campaign, however, NAGO has not endorsed any one candidate. It is far too early to place all our eggs in one basket. NAGOs support is extended to those whom show to uphold our values, goals and participate in efforts to halt government overreach. Our support does not signify collaboration or insight of the inner workings of any campaign. Support may be rescinded should the actions, culture, etc. of the campaign goes against the values, goals, and/or efforts of NAGO.

If you would like to be considered for NAGO support or know somebody who should be considered, feel free to reach out to We are happy to support candidates in all races that aim to serve Nebraskans and Preserve our Liberty.

Please consider making a donation towards our many efforts!

Published by Nebraskans Against Government Overreach

Nebraskans Against Government Overreach is a grassroots group dedicated to halting the government overreach affecting citizens across Nebraska, preserving the Liberty of Nebraskans and raising public awareness on informed consent and individual civil rights.

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