Interview with Scott Zimmerman, candidate for Nebraska Governor

The Libertarian candidate is running against Republican Jim Pillen and Democrat Carol Blood
Published: Nov. 3, 2022 at 4:34 PM CDT|Updated: Nov. 3, 2022 at 4:48 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - 10/11 NOW sat down with Scott Zimmerman to discuss his candidacy for Nebraska Governor ahead of the election. Here’s the full interview:

Bayley Bischof, 10/11 NOW: If there’s a viewer out there who doesn’t know anything about you, what would you want them to know ahead of the election?

Scott Zimmerman, running for Governor: That I’m just a regular person. I’m just a regular guy that got tired of being swept up in politics as usual and feeling very powerless. I just couldn’t sit by idly and watch decisions being made that impact my life and those around me on a daily basis. I couldn’t see that continuing any longer without taking some kind of action. So I decided that I would do what I know I can do which is run for run for office. So that is our power. That is our voice. We are government of the people and I am people.

Bayley Bischof: Tell me a little bit about yourself. What is your background? How long have you lived in Nebraska?

Scott Zimmerman: I was born and raised here in Nebraska. I did take a jaunt out of the state for a few years to go try and live a rockstar lifestyle. I tried to go make it in the music industry. I never achieved that. But I did meet my wife out there and when we decided to start a family, we thought Nebraska was the best place to do that. We picked up and we relocated back here. I’ve been back now in Omaha for 12 years and no looking back. I love it. I missed Nebraska so much and so tremendously. Four years ago, I made a decision to make a major career switch, I left sales and management and training and development and decided to become a teacher. I already had a Bachelor’s degree at the time. So in order to become a certified teacher in the state of Nebraska, I decided the best path would be to get a Master’s in elementary education. So I went back and I got my Master’s in elementary education and became a certified K-8 teacher and I currently teach fifth grade in Omaha Public Schools.

Bayley Bischof: Why do you want to be governor?

Scott Zimmerman: You know, again, I feel like there’s a big miscommunication between what a leader of a state should be doing versus what the leadership of a state currently does. They have a responsibility when you’re in a position of power and executive role. You have a responsibility to represent all of your constituents, not just the elite class that you’re associated with, not just those that have contributed to your campaigns. Those individuals that live and work on a daily basis, in some cases will struggle to know where their next meal is coming from. You also represent all of those people. So as governor, my primary target would be to step into that role and eliminate as much of the political rhetoric and the political divide, and the political positioning in order to accomplish the things that we need to get done. Rather than focusing on things that we’ll never agree on, let’s focus on the majority of the things that we can do advance our state to the next to the next century, for lack of a better term.

Bayley Bischof: What would be your top priorities if you were elected?

Scott Zimmerman: Number one priority would be to ensure that all state businesses conducted effectively and efficiently and equitably for all that are involved in the in the decision making process, making sure that all voters have their voices heard, have an opportunity to have an open line to the Governor’s office and to let me know what those concerns are. Beyond that, I would really focus on the efficiency of our government spending within the state. We have some major expenses that we put on to property taxes, that are a major burden and are a major concern for a lot of people. So my priority would be to work on creating a more efficient education model and a more equitable judicial system, thereby reducing some of the expenditures that we’re carrying through the property tax system. So we could then seek to reduce some of that burden as well.

Bayley Bischof: Your website lists your take on a few different topics, gun rights, criminal justice, medical rights, what would you want Nebraskans to know about your stance on those pretty contentious issues?

Scott Zimmerman: Personal freedom and personal responsibility. You know, happiness is rooted in that concept of people being responsible and accountable for their own lives in their own dealings. As long as they’re not impacting somebody else from living their life to the fullest, they should be free to do that. So when you look at my campaign points that I’ve covered on my website, the issues, it all seems to resonate back to personal choice, personal responsibility, and giving the power back to the people. We’ve become so overly dependent on the state and government as a whole, on providing decisions that are highly personal for us, that we should be able to internalize those and individualize those at home.

Bayley Bischof: How are you feeling a couple of weeks out from the election?

Scott Zimmerman: I’m feeling really optimistic. It’s been a couple of years. You know, I’ve been on the campaign trail for two years now, almost two and a half years since I declared that I was going to run for Governor. I made an effort to travel the state, east, west, north, south, trying to visit as many communities as I can and be accessible to people. And overall, the welcome reception that I’ve received, and the candid feedback I’ve received from people that have heard me speak and have talked to me. The one thing that they really appreciate the most for me, is that I’m unfiltered. I’m just a regular guy. I’m not touting a political talking point. I’m not pandering to my political elites. I’m simply a basic guy that wants to do better for the state of Nebraska, I believe Nebraska deserves better than politics as usual. That resounds very well with a lot of people I think a lot of people are, are frustrated, they’re fed up. My biggest challenge has not been the red versus blue, my biggest challenge has been voter apathy. The concept of well, why vote, it doesn’t matter, because the they’re just going to win and for me, that’s been the hardest thing for me to fight against. But it’s also been something that I’ve got a lot of people to step up and say, You know what, I believe in you, I support you, people reaching out to me all the time looking for campaign materials and, and yard signs and, and just responding to questions. Every question that comes through my website, I personally field all of those, I respond to each and every one of them. And I think that there’s some value to that in the eyes of the voter, because it’s time for a real person to step into that role and be a strong leader. Before my time, as an educator, I worked in leadership and management roles, 25 years of experience and my greatest strength was always to build on a highly effective team. To accomplish the goal that we need to accomplish. I put right people in the right places at the right time and I provide them with the resources they need to accomplish the desired outcome, regardless of their demographic background, as long as they had the experience and the skill set to accomplish that task. Those were the individuals I would tap and then retaining those talented individuals in those roles and helping them grow and develop and become stronger team members has always been a tremendous focus as well.

Bayley Bischof: You said this earlier that your campaign has been pretty unorthodox. What do you mean by that?

Scott Zimmerman: You know, I don’t have access to the resources that the big elite parties do the Republicans, the Democrats, they just have so many resources at their mercy. You can’t turn on a TV, you can’t turn on a YouTube channel without seeing a political ad right now. You can’t do that. I don’t have those resources. I don’t have access to the voter data. I don’t have access to all those things. I don’t have thousands of workers that are out there campaigning and knocking on doors. It’s pretty much been me and a small army of people spreading the message and spreading the word. So my focus has been on what I do best. For several years I’ve done marketing promotion and the arts and entertainment industries, really specializing on rock shows and stand up comedy shows, and gaining attention and performing in front of sellout crowds. You market it you get out there. So my meme game is strong, people love my memes are getting a lot of traffic. My Tik Tok channel is hot, we’re getting lots of views and lots of shares. I’m doing a lot of videos, personalized videos that I’ve made, I’ve edited the music for them, and I’m putting them out there in the public eye. So you know, you go to my YouTube channel, you go to my Tik Tok, you go to my Facebook page, you’re gonna see all of that, that media that’s there that you’re not seeing on the television. Beyond that, everywhere I go, I’ve made it a point to go to shows and be present. I go up and I introduce myself to people and I basically say, hey, look, if these millionaires can pop up on your TV whenever they want, I can certainly show up at your local restaurant, I can certainly show up at your local bowling alley. I’m Scott Zimmerman, I want to talk to you about what I’m doing and we usually engage in dialogue. The majority of the people that I’m talking with are very receptive and very open to this concept because they’ve been looking for an alternative, because they don’t want to have to plug their nose anymore and vote for the lesser of two evils. They really want somebody that they can get behind and trust to do the right thing by the people of Nebraska.

Bayley Bischof: Nebraska has never had a Libertarian governor and nobody has third party candidates typically advanced that Far, why is it worth it for you to run? Why are you optimistic?

Scott Zimmerman: I’ll tell you, you know, I was raised in a Republican household. I was president of the Young Republicans club and all of these things, and over the years, the Republican Party have kind of left me, they left me behind, I wasn’t willing to follow them where they were going. If I look at them today, I’m absolutely not even willing to take that step in that direction. So then I looked at the Democrats for a while, and I worked with the Democrat Party and looked at that, and I was really supportive. Then they started to leave me a little bit more behind. I’m a very moderate individual and very middle of the road and when I found the Libertarian Party in the mid 90′s, about 96-97, I did some campaign work on a governor candidate in Arizona at that time, I just fell in love with the people because they were just like me. They were people that understood that the size and the scope of our government has gotten too big. We’ve put in a trust in a system that has failed us for far too long, which is that two party duopoly for 150 years, it’s been back and forth, red versus blue, right versus left, and people are done with it. They’re fed up watching this pendulum swing and regardless of who we put in those positions of power, we always seem to see tax increases on the working class, we see infringement on our personal freedoms and then restraints on our financial independence. It’s almost like a forced dependency on government to make decisions and provide for us when in reality, that’s not what our Founding Fathers intended for us. They wanted us to have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Through that was the personal responsibility component. Let’s go out, let’s live, work, let’s innovate, let’s create and let’s do the best that we can do with the resources that we have available to us, and then relying on the communities to support each other in those areas.

Bayley Bischof: Those are all the questions I have listed, is there anything else you want people to know?

Scott Zimmerman: Sure. Well, I’ll tell you a big part of my focus, obviously, as an educator is innovating education in the state of Nebraska and one of my primary targets, in my first term as governor is to put Nebraska on the map as a leader in the education sector, not only in public education, because obviously we have to have public education. That’s a right that people have in our state constitutionally, we have to provide that. But I would say that the way children live and develop and learn has changed so dramatically in the last decade and the giant ship that is the Department of Education, that is public education is failing to move to where those children are. So my focus would be on creating a fiscally responsible model for education for our state, which would allow more opportunities for private education organizations to sprout up in Nebraska, and innovate and create new and creative methods for educating. And then thereby we’re giving parents more oversight and more input on what their children are learning, where their children are learning and how their children learn. You know, what works for for child A does not work for child B and what we’ve done over the last, I wouldn’t even say 40 years, although we’ve done a standardized education, and we’ve created this uniform box that we’re expecting children to live within and it was fine for a time, but now with access to internet and technology, these kids have a plethora of knowledge at their hands and they don’t know how to process it. So we need to take a more individualized approach to educating children and making sure that we are accommodating their needs. If they’re reading at a second grade level than they need to be working at second grade level reading and developing, we can’t take them and plug them into a sixth grade classroom and expect them just to get it at some point in time. So I think we could do a lot better. I work every day with some amazing education professionals. And I’ll tell you right now, they do great things with the resources that are provided, but their hands are tied. In a lot of situations between pacing guides, and testing requirements. There’s really no wiggle room in any of those things. So teachers feel trapped and like they’re really just a vehicle to transport these kids from point A to point B in the year that they have them. So I’d like to take a step back and look at how we could we could innovate education, and establish Nebraska, put Nebraska on the map, let’s let’s end that flyover state mentality, let’s make us a destination location where people want to live and work and play. Then a part of that education platform, though does require me to look at broadband experience, broadband access throughout the entire state, making sure everybody has access to high speed internet and technology so that if they are a rancher out in western Nebraska, and they want their child to do an online class, or they can be home and help around the ranch, well, by all means they should be able to do that they should be able to access that. Then still be able to access the local community schools for things like sports and music and arts and those kinds of things. So that’s a long range vision for the education plan. It’s something I’m very passionate about. Then attacking the prison overcrowding problem. We’ve got 152% capacity last I heard and I teach math every day and I last I knew 100% was 100%. So I don’t know what they’re doing with this extra 52%. I imagine they’re having them sleep standing up or the cafeteria is putting them in broom closets, but we have to evaluate well, who we’re criminalizing and who we’re incarcerating incarcerating because incarceration in our state prison system should be an absolute last resort reserved for our most violent offenders of crimes. We should really be focusing on rehabilitation and re-assimilation back into our communities. Let’s help them become better citizens in our state, with focus on mental health, obviously, being a big component of that which we have to do a better job because mental health matters.

Bayley Bischof: Great. Well, thank you so much.

Scott Zimmerman: Thank you. Yeah, check me out at, #backthebeard.

Watch 10/11′s interviews with Democrat Carol Blood here and Republican Jim Pillen here.

For more information on the General Election, visit 10/11′s Voters Guide.