Vote to save schools

Nevada Assembly, draft horses of the legislature

Washoe County election info can be found at

Many small state and local campaigns draw little media attention. Blooming crops of signs at intersections don’t help me. That’s too bad. Seems especially important this year to elect folks to, say, the Nevada State Assembly who agree that eviscerating schools and public services on behalf of a short-term budget fix would harm our state now—and for decades to come. I’m interested in electing open-minded candidates who’ll consider many options for stabilizing our economy with long-term reform. Some key assembly races in Reno and Sparks:

State Assembly, District 24 (Old Northwest, UNR, North Valleys): Well-liked moderate Democrat David Bobzien is smart and realistic about finding a balanced economic solution. Endorsements range from Washoe County Sheriff Mike Haley, who notes Bobzien’s role in “fighting methamphetamine, graffiti and other threats to our safety,” to UNR professor Glenn Miller, who’s impressed with Bobzien’s devotion to education at all levels.

State Assembly, District 25 (Double Diamond, Arrowcreek, Caughlin Ranch): Robert “Tuna” Townsend (D)—one of few candidates with the balls to say “yes” to taxes—but not your taxes or my taxes. “We do not need an individual income tax,” he says. “In fact, we need to roll back sales taxes, property taxes and onerous fees, licenses, permits … on small businesses—the businesses that create the most jobs, and generate profits that stay in the community. Instead, we need to be taxing the large, multi-national corporations that off-shore their profits by wire-transfer every night.” Amen, brother.

State Assembly, District 26 (west Reno to Lake Tahoe, Pleasant Valley, north Washoe Valley): Randy Kirner (R) seems fair-minded about Nevada’s economic stability. He has the support of the Nevada Faculty Alliance and the NRA. He also wants to transport nuclear waste across the nation to Yucca for reprocessing. (Better than dumping, but please no.) Like Kirner, Angie Taylor (D) seems amenable to examining Nevada’s tax structure, repairing our education system and helping families facing unemployment and foreclosure. As far as I can tell, her plans don’t include toxic waste recycling.

State Assembly, District 27 (Idlewild Drive, Virginia Lake, Peckham Lane): Teresa Benitez-Thompson (D) is a social worker, endorsed by Nevada State Education Association, Nevada Conservation League, police groups and labor unions. Gabe Jurado (R) is a mortgage consultant endorsed by builders and real estate groups. Benitez-Thompson says helping Nevada’s volatile economy will involve “taking a serious look at our tax structure and setting ourselves up for long-term stability.” Jurado says the state should learn to do more with less. Your call.

State Assembly, District 30 (Sparks): If Debbie Smith (D) is re-elected, she’ll likely be the first Northern Nevada chairwoman of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee. She already chairs the K-12 and Capital Improvements subcommittees. This scares Republicans who’re bent on defeating Smith. It pleases the many, many who endorse Smith. We like the idea of having a powerful Northern Nevada voice—one that’s rational and compassionate—in the Assembly.

State Assembly, District 31 (Sparks): At the Gazette-Journal candidate site created for the primaries, Randi Thompson (R) posted her plan to address Nevada’s budget shortfall: “Education would receive about $1.6 billion in 2011, down from $3.5 billion this year. HHS would receive about $1.3, down from $1.9 billion for this year.” That’s not a budget trim. It’s a hatchet job. Go with Richard Daly (D).

State Assembly, District 32 (Spanish Springs to Gerlach, Winnemucca, Battle Mountain): Choice? Right-wing radio talkster Ira Hansen (R) or Jodi Stephens (R), a staffer for Gov. Jim Gibbons. Are there no Democrats between East Sparks and Winnemucca? That said, Stephens seems knowledgeable and experienced. She’d get my vote.