Republican primary

An Omaha woman is challenging Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts for the Republican nod in the state’s gubernatorial race.

Krystal Gabel, a freelance writer who grew up in Akron, Iowa, said she is challenging the current Nebraska governor in the May primary election because she is concerned about the current executive’s leadership priorities and lack of accountability.

“Government is meant to be ran by the people, not the elite,” she said. “The office of governor was designed to seat a common Nebraskan.”

Gabel said she believes the defunding of the state education system has directly harmed the public school system. Educational funding is among the three issues Gabel said she believed were priorities in the race.

“If the state doesn’t readjust its budget to fully fund our public schools, our school districts will fail, students and taxpayers will pay more for education, and our college towns will turn into ghost towns,” she said. “I strongly believe Nebraska’s tax dollars should go directly into front-end investments that give Nebraskans better opportunities.”

Gabel said she would like to expand the state’s economy by legalizing medical cannabis and industrial hemp farming, which is another of Gabel’s top priorities in the election.

“Thousands of Nebraska patients are driving every month to purchase their natural medicine from Colorado,” she said. “Nebraska farmers are losing money on each acre of biotechnology corn and soybeans they harvested this past fall.”

In addition to education and legalizing cannabis, Gabel said she believes it is a priority to serve, protect and respect the rights and freedoms of all Nebraskans.

Gabel said she believes she is a candidate worth supporting because her platform is based on the needs and wants of the many Nebraskans with whom she has spoken throughout the course of her campaign.

“I work to keep money out of politics and budget our tax revenue according to the people,” she said.

Ricketts, the incumbent, was elected to serve as governor of Nebraska in 2014: “Nebraskans elected me to put my experience to work making state government run more like a business,” he said.

Ricketts said he is seeking a second term to continue the work of the past three years.

“We’ve made tremendous progress to grow Nebraska, create opportunities for our young people and make state government work better for Nebraskans,” he said.

Touting some of his accomplishments in office, Ricketts said he has worked to cut government spending by more than 90 percent and cut roughly four percent in his agencies’ headcount, all while improving services and providing $840 million in property tax relief.

“We’ve led the nation in economic development projects per capita for two years in a row, and Nebraska has attracted more than $1 billion in new investment and jobs,” Ricketts said. “We need to maintain our state’s momentum.”

Rickets said the state is still facing high property taxes, which he believes is a priority in the race.

“The key to lowering property taxes is controlling spending, both at the state and local levels,” he said. “I will continue to restrain the growth of state spending and reduce the size of government wherever possible.”

At the same time, Ricketts said he believes it is a priority to generate more economic opportunity for young people to retain and attract their talents to the state.

“Remaining competitive requires us to constantly assess how we can become a better destination for business,” he said. “We’ve seen real results over the last three years and have achieved national recognition. ... Our track record is strong, but we have to compete every day to continue growing Nebraska.”

Ricketts said the continued need to make state government more efficient, effective and customer-focused is another priority.

“Through innovations like our first-in-the-nation re-employment program, we’re working to improve Nebraskan’s lives, save taxpayers money and strengthen our economy,” Ricketts said. “In ways big and small, we must keep making advancements to create a more prosperous, safe and bright future for Nebraska.”

Ricketts said he believes he is a candidate worth supporting because he has kept his promises to the people of Nebraska. He points to his work on property tax relief, his work to cut government spending and his work to transform the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

“...Today, by a variety of metrics, we are serving those who rely on DHHS better than ever before,” Ricketts said. “There is always more work (to) do, but we’re getting the job done.”

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