Polite race

Senate candidates avoid attacks



This is not typically an election year in State Senate District 13. A special election will be held because of the vacancy left by the death of Washoe Sen. Debbie Smith in February. This election is to fill the two remaining years of the four-year term.

The district runs from Rancho San Rafael Park down to the bottom of South McCarran Boulevard and from Idlewild Park east to the far side of Sparks, representing approximately 128,574 Nevadans.

Sen. Smith’s family asked Julia Ratti to run for the seat on the Democratic ticket. Ratti considered Smith her mentor and friend.

“Debbie and I have a lot in common in terms of our belief system about what’s important to Nevadans, and also our temperament in governing,” said Ratti. She is currently finishing her second term as Sparks City Council member in Ward 1, a position she’s held since 2008.

Ratti’s first priorities are health and human services. She vows to improve the social safety net for families affected by a disability, domestic violence and substance abuse.

Education is her other top priority.

“I just know education is the path out of poverty, and it’s absolutely important not only for low-income families but for all families that we have a strong education system,” she said.

Her Republican opponent is Kent Bailey, a senior specialist with Motorola Inc. Bailey decided to run after learning that more than 1,000 children are held in foster care in Washoe County, primarily as a result of substance abuse issues in their homes.


“There were some areas that I thought could change, and I was going to let Sen. Smith know my opinion on that,” said Bailey.

Senator Smith’s passing left Bailey without anyone to call.

“So I thought, you know, if there’s anyone who is going to take the mantle of looking at substance abuse and looking at domestic violence and all of those things that contribute to having over one thousand kids in a foster care population, I’ll do it.”

His website emphasizes his position on the topics of Nevada education reform, lowering small business taxation and regulation and improving veterans’ services.

Without any formal political experience, Bailey has a degree in political science and a management career in small businesses and corporations on his side. He won the Republican primary by nearly 70 percent of the vote.

As a self-described moderate Republican, Kent Bailey doesn’t quite fit into the archetypal Republican box. His didn’t receive an “A” rating on the questionnaire from the NRA. He’s an openly gay man. He says he would have voted for Gov. Sandoval’s tax package in the last session.

He is a proponent of the education spending accounts that passed last session. Julia Ratti is not. That program is now under court challenge.

“I’m not so girded in the right wing part of my party that I can’t see, understand and take heart with those [issues] the opposing party might find value with,” he said. “I have found that being a Republican in today’s climate, it’s a little difficult for someone like me who takes a pragmatic approach on social issues and tax issues.” But he says that he believes more in pulling one’s self up by the bootstraps—unlike those on the left, who want to redistribute wealth.

Nevada Senate District 13 (formerly Nevada Senate District 1) has never elected a Republican.

A Libertarian, Brandon Jacobs, is also running for Nevada Senate District 13. He was unavailable for comment. We tried to find information on his positions online but were unable to do so.