Issues patchwork

Assembly district 27



The race for Nevada Assembly District 27 has two political polar opposites running against each other—Democrat Teresa Benitez-Thompson and Republican Bonnie Weber.

Assemblymembers are elected to two-year terms. The legislature meets for four months every other year. Assembly District 27 includes Northwest Reno and Sun Valley.

Benitez-Thompson has been District 27’s assemblymember since 2010. She voted against state money for the Raiders stadium during the recent legislative special session.

When the Legislature is not in session, the mother of four works as a social worker in Reno—a profession she’s worked in for more than 11 years.

Her introduction to politics came when she was in high school. She co-founded the Nevada Empowered Women’s Project, where she advocated for low-income families. Benitez-Thompson was crowned Miss Nevada in 2002. This she attributes to her activism and advocacy work.

“I wasn’t great at pageantry, but I always won the community service award, and I always won it because of my work with the Nevada Empowered Women’s Project and my advocacy work with them,” she said.

Benitez-Thompson received an undergraduate degree from the University of Nevada, Reno and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan.

“You have to go down there, and you have to work across the aisle,” Benitez-Thompson said. “And you have to engage all your colleagues—from wherever they are in the state—in a conversation for the greater good of the state.”

She is currently working on legislation to address the backlog of sexual assault kits in the state. Planks in her platform include evaluating education funding by making sure funds are used efficiently for student achievement, and addressing Nevada’s mental health system by addressing housing and services available for those struggling with mental health issues.

Benitez-Thompson’s opponent, Bonnie Weber, has been living in Reno’s North Valleys area for 34 years. She has been a member of the Republican Party for many years. One detail of her campaign is that, although she served as a Republican on the Washoe County Commission for 12 years and has also worked in county GOP headquarters, a recent mailing she sent out in this race did not contain the word Republican.

“Although I’m a Republican and have those beliefs, I’m able to work with the other side,” Weber said.

She took office as county commissioner in 2003 and was reelected two times. She said her experience has prepared her well for the legislature. In 2014, she ran unsuccessfully for the Reno City Council Ward 4 seat.

The conservative politician mainly hopes to look at taxes in Nevada and how to lower them.

“We’ve got to take control over our state’s budget,” Weber said. “I’m not in favor in increasing taxes. And I believe in smaller government. And I believe in a common sense solution.”

Weber’s plans for her work in the Assembly are not as concrete.

“I don’t really have anything,” Weber said. “Honestly, I feel that as a freshman legislator, I want to take it all in. I don’t want to go in there with preconceived ideas. I want to go in, be fresh, and work for the people. I want to go in with an open mind and work for the people.”

Weber’s interests include transportation issues regarding elderly and disabled people, especially in rural areas. She also expressed interest in improving the state’s infrastructure and preserving individual property rights.

Early voting in Nevada has already begun and continues through Nov. 4. Election day is Nov. 8, with polls open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

(Weber was not available for a photo.)