It’s been a year since William Raggio resigned from the Nevada Senate after four decades as district attorney and a high-powered state senator. Raggio, seen in the photo with daughter Leslie at a Reno High all-class reunion, talks about decompressing.
What has life out of the limelight been like?
I’ll have to say I think it’s rewarding. I look back on a long career. I’m grateful I had that opportunity. But, you know, now I have more time to do other things.
When things happened like the Legislature failing to get redistricting done, was it difficult to be on the outside looking in?
I suppose once you have been there, done that, that you have your own ideas as to what you would have done if you had been there. I think it could have been done and should have been done during the session. This way, it is a court-ordered redistricting, and I think it takes away some of the legislative responsibility.
And you held your tongue when things like that were happening. Was that hard?
I have purposely not made a lot of statements … unless I was asked, because I think once you don’t hold a position, if you’re not asked, I don’t know that your opinion is worth much.
A lot of people turn down the chance to run for office these days, because it has become so mean-spirited.
I would certainly put an explanation point after that. I’ve made it quite clear that I deplore the political attitude that exists today at all levels of government. I do believe that extremism in partisan politics is a disservice to the process. I think that there is a real need for expressing views and maybe making strong arguments, but then sitting down and working together. And you can’t have everything you want, whatever side or position you take, and that was my mantra for 38 years. Now, I know people criticize me because some of these people think that if you have a principle, you just can’t get off that position. But it that were so, they’d have never framed a Constitution.
Looking back on your political career, what would you tell somebody who was looking at running for political office?
Well, you know, I think politics is interesting, it’s essential, it’s a process that ensures that we will retain a democracy unless we just abdicate the process and insist that it’s going to be one way or another. I think democracy means you listen to other people’s viewpoints, you adjust your own to do what’s best for the common good and retain your principles as fully as possible. I guess I’m not considered a tea party person because I’m a person who believes in free enterprise, I believe in limited government, and that’s why I’m a Republican. But the Republican Party today has been, I think, my word is “hijacked” by extreme views, and so has the other party. It’s not the way to get things done for the majority of Americans.