A stark contrast in candidates in the race for Nevada’s Senate District 16 – an interview with Democrat Tina Davis-Hersey

Tina Davis-Hersey - image provided by the candidate.
Tina Davis-Hersey - image provided by the candidate.

Carson City – Tina Davis-Hersey is the Democratic candidate for Nevada’s Senate District 16 and recently stopped by the KNVC studios and recorded the following interview with Brian Bahouth …

The differences between Democrat Tina Davis-Hersey and Republican Ben Kieckhefer could not be more distinct.  Tina Davis Hersey has never held or run for elective office.  Her opponent by contrast has served in the Nevada State Senate for two terms and is also Director of Client Relations for one of the most influential lobbying and law firms in the state, McDonald Carano.  From the firm’s website:

Ben serves as Director of Client Relations at McDonald Carano and is responsible for the strategic development and execution of firmwide client relations initiatives.

Language from the firm’s Government Affairs & Advocacy page offers some insight into what a client can expect from the firm.

Our team assists businesses, individuals and other organizations with defining their objectives and designing a comprehensive strategy and action plan that offers the greatest potential for success. Our firm is dedicated to supporting client priorities during the legislative session. We represent client policy interests at interim committee hearings, as well as facilitate direct client relationships with legislators. We also work with clients and agency staff on the development of regulatory language, as well as advise on other issues that may affect our clients.

The difference between the candidates is further illustrated in their list of donors.

Tina Davis-Hersey’s list of donors is short, and not a single for-profit corporation has contributed to her campaign.  In the corporate/union category, Davis-Hersey has received a single $1,500 donation from the Service Employees International Local 1107.

Kieckhefer’s list of donors is a who’s who of corporate influence.  Here are a few highlights:

Sempra Energy, Dish Networks, Granite Construction, MGM Resorts, the Bellagio, Ormat Nevada, the Las Vegas Sands, Vidler Water, The Ferraro Group, Nevada Realtors, Wells Fargo and Company Employees PAC, Expedia, Eldorado Resorts, Wynn Resorts, Eli Lilly, Grand Sierra Resort, Anthem …

The next round of campaign finance reporting is due on October 16, so we will update this report when those numbers are available.

Image – Nevada Capital News.

Tina Davis Hersey is making up for a lack of money with hustle.

“People are really excited when a candidate shows up at their door to talks to them about the issues.  That doesn’t happen a lot, and I think it hasn’t happened in the district in a really long time,” Davis-Hersey said with a smile.  “I’m getting really good feedback about what people are concerned about with this election cycle, whether it’s education, or more local issues or national issues to women’s issues and the Kavanaugh hearings.”

While knocking on doors recently Davis-Hersey said she learned the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings have taken a toll on women voters.

“I think that it impacted more women than people realize just because so many of us have had that kind of experience in our own lives, and it brings it all to the fore and makes us realize we really have to do something about this now,” Davis-Hersey said.  “It’s well beyond time to admit that women are human beings and we need to pay attention to what’s happening with us and how we’re treated and how we’re included in the national conversation about what’s happening.”

The housing market is famously tight in northern Nevada, especially for low-income residents, so we asked Davis-Hersey if the state government has a role in the housing crisis.

“We could definitely play a big role in that,” Davis Hersey said.  “If a person makes minimum wage in Nevada which is $8.25 an hour or $7.25 if your employer pays benefits, you can’t afford the average apartment, which is a thousand to fifteen hundred dollars for a one bedroom apartment in this area, and there’s no way you could think about buying a home at the median price of $400,000 right now, so definitely making some changes as far as wages and minimum wage levels and things like that.”

Davis-Hersey said those who build housing units need to be in the conversation.

“Including developers in a long-range plan for affordable housing and infrastructure and things like that in the master plan I think is important,” she said.

We asked Davis-Hersey to share what she’s learned from people on the campaign trail, and she said by far, education is the hot topic for voters.

“I’ve been talking to educators and administrators, people who are working in the school  district system about what the issues are and why has Nevada been last for 40 years in educational spending, graduation rates, etc, and there are kind a lot of reasons and a lot of things people see as a way to fix it, but it’s getting the Legislature to approve, first of all, a pretty big increase in per student funding and being more equitable in how the funding is used,” Davis-Hersey said.  “Schools in White Pine County are way different than schools in Washoe County or Clark County, so those school districts need to be able to use the funds how it is appropriate for them to create a successful outcome for their students.”

Lobbying

Lawmakers in the Nevada State Legislature do rely on paid advocates or lobbyists to help inform their decision making on a variety of issues, but we asked Davis-Hersey at what point does the lawmaker end up working for paid advocates and not individual constituents.

“There are definitely industries where lobbying can make a difference because in order to legislate properly we need to know how things work and how people are feeling across the board and across every sector of Nevada, whether it’s education, whether it’s housing, whether it’s business, anything like that, and so lobbyists can actually perform a very good service by telling you, ‘this is what we think our industry could be better served with,’ but when you get to the point where lobbyists are making the decisions rather than the people, that becomes a problem when legislators are working on behalf of lobbyists or big big business or corporations rather than the people they serve,” Davis-Hersey said.

That the Republican candidate for Senate District 16 works for a lobbying firm is not lost on Tina Davis-Hersey.

“Ben Kieckhefer works for a lobbying firm.  He was a lobbyist at one point in time, and I think that he is still kind of doing a little bit of that kind of work, “Davis-Hersey said laughing.  “I think that he’s lost his perception of the actual people of Nevada in his employment and who he’s legislating for.”

For Tina Davis-Hersey every day of her 2018 campaign has been a new experience, and with time she has focused much of her campaigning efforts knocking on doors in the district, working to win votes one at a time.  Should she be elected, Davis-Hersey would be certainly not be beholden to global corporations unless they somehow served the people who are answering the door when she knocks, no matter their political affiliations.

“The thought of canvassing at first terrified me,” Davis-Hersey said.  “But now I really like it.  I enjoy talking to people.  Hearing what they care about and recognizing at the local level, it’s not really about Democrat versus Republican, it’s about what our state Legislature does for all of us across the board.  Doesn’t matter what party you are or what income level you are, we’re going to work for what’s best for the majority of Nevadans.”

For more from Tina Davis-Hersey, listen to the audio interview posted above …