Nebraska’s incoming governor filling cabinet posts

Governor-elect Jim Pillen retaining several in Ricketts’ administration
Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 5:43 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - In the days since he was voted into the state’s top office, Nebraska Governor-elect Jim Pillen has been assembling his cabinet.

Friday, Team Pillen announced that Tony Goins, currently part of Gov. Pete Ricketts’ administration, will continue to serve as director of the state Department of Economic Development. He has served there since 2019, according to the news release from Pillen’s team.

“Tony has a proven track record of executive experience that has created value and a business mindset for the state of Nebraska,” Pillen said in the release. “I look forward to working with Tony to grow Nebraska and continue to make our state the best in the country to work and live.”

On Thursday, Pillen announced that Sherry Vinton would be taking over as head of the state’s Department of Agriculture.

“Sherry will be a key partner in helping implement my vision of growing Nebraska agriculture,” Pillen said in that release. “As a lifelong Nebraskan and livestock producer, she is a leader in Nebraska agriculture who knows the importance of the industry for the future of our state. Sherry will work to protect farmers and ranchers against anti-agricultural policies & groups, promote free & fair trade, ensure competitive markets, and defend our land.”

Vinton currently serves as the first vice president of the Nebraska Farm Bureau.

“Since 1983, she has run her family cow-calf operation near Whitman where she manages the business end of the ranch’s operation,” Pillen’s release states.

Pillen will also be keeping John Albin as the head of the Department of Labor, according to an announcement he made Monday.

“John has a long history of focusing on process improvement and delivering results during his three decades at the Department of Labor,” Pillen said in the release. “He will continue doing an excellent job helping government run more like a business and remain customer-focused as he continues in his role as commissioner.”

Albin has served in Nebraska’s DOL for more than 30 years, becoming the Labor Commissioner in 2014.

The governor-elect also announced on Monday that Eric Dunning would continue on as head of the state Department of Insurance, a position he’s held since 2021.

“Eric will continue out state’s track record of being the best place in the nation for insurers to do business. He has decades of experience, both public and private, that have resulted in strong relationship within the industry and a clear knowledge of how to help businesses thrive in Nebraska,” Pillen said in the release.

Pillen’s team made its first cabinet announcement last week, noting the governor-elect would also retain Lee Will as the state budget director — a post he’s held for two years.

“Will has done an incredible job for Nebraska by growing the culture within the State Budget Office of fiscal conservatism, trust, and confidentiality,” Pillen said in that release. “Will is a public servant focused on the betterment of Nebraska. I look forward to working with him and his entire team to continue cutting government spending so that we can provide transformative property tax relief for Nebraskans.”

On Veterans Day, Pillen announced that John Hilgert would be retained as director of the Nebraska Department of Veterans’ Affairs, a position he’s served in since 2001.

“John has decades of experience working to improve the lives of veterans across the state of Nebraska,” Pillen said in the Nov. 11 release. “His experience and steady leadership will be invaluable to continue providing high-quality services to our veterans and ensuring Nebraska remains the best place in the country for veterans to live, work, and raise a family.”

Ricketts was also making appointments this week, announcing dozens of selections to state boards and committees — picks that are subject to Legislative confirmation.