Opinion: Here’s what to ask Nevada candidates before they vote

This opinion column was submitted by RGJ columnist Sheila Leslie, who served in the Nevada Legislature from 1998 to 2012.

As the election cycle moves closer to March filing dates, candidates are shaping their campaign messages in ways they believe will help them win. They will try to woo primary voters by tossing enough red meat to demonstrate party loyalty, while leaving room to return to the middle for general election consumption. It’s a little harder than usual to accomplish that feat in the Republican Party this year, as the Trumpian base clings tightly to extreme ideology while “Never Trump” Republicans watch their party s collapsing from within under the weight of lies, conspiracy theories and false narratives.

Voters must seize the opportunity to push back the posturing of the primary election by demanding that candidates from both parties take political positions on real issues that really matter. Ask questions before agreeing to contribute to campaigns and insist on details rather than platitudes. Let candidates know that they will be held accountable in the general election for extreme positions taken in the primary season to cater to grassroots voters.

You’ll have your own issues to raise, but here are some questions for gubernatorial and legislative candidates, and some information on topics you might consider raising as candidates try to win your vote. If they have no idea how to address these concerns, they may not deserve your support.

► Do you support putting a cap on payday loans like so many other states have? Why or why not?

Nevada payday lenders have been known to take advantage of people living near the edge by charging exorbitant interest rates that sometimes exceed 600%, burying already desperate people with exponentially growing debt. People need short-term loans to pay rent on time and avoid steep late fees imposed by landlords who depend on this easy way to earn money, but that’s no reason for Payday lenders exploit people who are struggling to get by. Other states have stopped this predatory behavior by capping interest rates; Why can’t Nevada do the same?

► How will you ensure that Nevada comes out of last place in mental health care?

If their eyes glaze over and they mumble something about how important mental health is, politely ask for clarification. Listen to plans to improve the crisis response system by promoting the new behavioral health crisis hotline, 988, or by supporting more mobile crisis teams and the creation of crisis stabilization centers. crisis. Ask them how they will provide more housing options for people living with persistent and severe mental illness as well as the on-site services they need, such as medication management and walk-in care. How will they support families whose loved ones are resistant to treatment, especially those with a concurrent substance use problem? And while you’re on this topic, what are they going to do about Nevada’s skyrocketing overdose death rate?

► What will you do to fully implement the All-Inclusive Extended Care for the Elderly (PACE) program in Nevada?

If candidates do not know what PACE is, take the opportunity to educate them. PACE enables seniors to stay in the community and avoid nursing homes by supporting them with comprehensive services, such as access to health care and medication, transportation to appointments, and providing home care and social supports such as helping with veterinary visits for a senior’s pet. . States with PACE programs have documented longer lifespans for older adults able to live in the community and lower Medicaid and Medicare costs. Although other states have had PACE in place for decades, the enabling law passed in Nevada in 2009 — full disclosure: I was the bill’s primary sponsor — and seniors have waited long enough. long time. If Elon Musk can get his billion dollar tax breaks in a quick special session, why did it take Nevada 13 years to fund the start-up costs of PACE?

► What are your pressing priorities for ARPA dollars in Nevada?

Hear responses that support investments in affordable housing and public health infrastructure, not just economic development and building bridges. Suggest more emphasis on partnering with city authorities to rehabilitate old motels and hotels for affordable downtown living. And what can be done about huge rent increases in Washoe County besides subsidizing developers to build more luxury housing that working people can’t afford?

It goes without saying that if any candidates engage in the mythology of widespread voter fraud or COVID misinformation, you should cross them off your list. The people of Nevada cannot afford to divert our attention from addressing the many challenges affecting our quality of life. By holding candidates accountable, we can ensure that our elected officials understand that we want them to work on solutions to real problems and leave behind the imaginary world of alternative facts.

RGJ columnist Sheila Leslie served in the Nevada Legislature from 1998 to 2012.

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