On the attack

3-way race, 2-way debate

The man who wasn’t there: Candidate David Colborne was excluded from the RG-J’s Nevada Senate district 15 race debate.

The man who wasn’t there: Candidate David Colborne was excluded from the RG-J’s Nevada Senate district 15 race debate.

The Nevada State Senate District 15 race has the makings of primetime politics, including television ad campaigns, mudslinging mailers and heated live debates. The race is between Republican Heidi Gansert, Democrat Devon Reese and Libertarian David Colborne. Incumbent Greg Bower resigned to take a job with the U.S. Department of Justice, replaced by Jesse Haw until November.

Heidi Gansert was elected to the Nevada Assembly in 2004 and 2008, working as Reublican floor leader, then departing to become chief of staff to Gov. Brian Sandoval. Her experience also provided a voting record for Democratic nominee Devon Reese to attack in last week’s debate, staged by the Reno Gazette-Journal.

“That’s of course what I can do, because I don’t have a record—I’m not a career politician,” said Reese, noting that Gansert has never participated in a debate format like that. Reese is an attorney and a debate coach at McQueen High School.

In addition to education, Reese is concentrating on representing “disenfranchised people” in his campaign, mentioning programs for seniors, veterans and the LGBTQ community.

“There are so many groups out there who don’t have a voice, who are not represented that we can do better by making certain the issues that affect all of us are addressed,” he said.

Balancing the budget, improving access to health care and addressing the opioid crisis are on Gansert’s list of top priorities. But education is first.

“I think education is how we transform our economy, and we make it more sustainable,” said Gansert. “That’s why I’m really proud of the work I’ve been doing at the university.” She left Gov. Sandoval’s office in 2012 to work in the office of the President at the University of Nevada, Reno, but has decided to return to public service.

As revealed in the debate, Reese and Gansert differ on their views about Nevada ballot Question 1 dealing with gun background checks. Reese said that gone are the days of buying guns on Craigslist. Gansert said it’s overreach and incriminating innocent people.

Libertarian David Colborne said in an interview, “I think it’s going to lead to more bureaucracy. I think it’s going to lead to a lot of tax dollars being spent. I don’t think it’s going to get guns off the street.”

Reese said he’s voting yes on ballot Question 2, legalizing and regulating marijuana. Colborne wrote an op-ed in the Reno Gazette-Journal arguing that the ballot measure isn’t perfect but is better than blanket prohibition. Gansert says that repealing prohibition will have a negative impact on the youth and the workforce in the state and she is not voting for it.

In last week’s debate, Gansert and Reese disagreed about the proposed measure for education savings accounts, which Gansert advocates. Reese points to the negative impact on the budget in the already struggling public school district.

However, both Gansert and Reese support Washoe County ballot Question 1—WC-1—raising the sales tax to generate revenue to repair schools and build new ones.

Colborne calls WC-1 “terrible public policy that falls disproportionately on our poorest citizens.”

Colborne was not invited to last week’s debate hosted by the RG-J, but he was in attendance. “I’m disappointed I wasn’t given the opportunity to actually defend these issues,” he said.