Before a sparse crowd of about 30 builders on Tuesday, Assembly District 40 candidates Bonnie Parnell and Ron Knecht gave a sample of the tone of their respective campaigns.
Parnell described her record in two terms as Carson City's Assembly representative as "an independent, reasonable, respected legislator," who worked with both parties. In contrast, Knecht told the group that if any Democrat including Parnell had been in his seat last year, the extra vote needed to push through a much larger tax package would have been there.
Knecht, who is completing his first term in the office Parnell retired from two years ago, said he was proud of the tax battle in which he figured prominently during the 2003 Legislature. He said Parnell "is a fine person but she's another vote for the tax takers."
"When it comes to an issue about which (Majority Leader) Barbara Buckley or (Speaker) Richard Perkins care, there is no room for debate in their caucus. They rule the caucus with an iron hand."
Parnell said afterward the facts don't support that claim.
"I have a record through two sessions where I was independent and, on numerous occasions, voted against the Democratic caucus when it was in the best interest of the people I represented," she said.
For the record, she said she "will not support nor do I believe there will be a need for any new taxes next session."
Parnell, a teacher for 26 years and Teacher of the Year in 1998, called for accountability in public education but urged people to recognize and celebrate the good that schools are doing.
"It's not all bad," she said. "We have good schools."
She said next year, a key issue for her is health care and liability insurance. She said small businesses and many builders are being hurt by the rising cost of insurance and that the situation must be fixed.
Knecht said he is proud of his record, especially the tax battle. He said he and others will continue to "stand fast against the tax-and-spend political bosses from Las Vegas."
He said one of his key projects will be a constitutional amendment to restore and strengthen the two-thirds vote required to raise taxes, expand two-thirds to include increases in spending higher than the economic growth rate and "reverse the damage done to the democratic process and the rule of law done by the Nevada Supreme Court."
Tuesday's address before the Builders Association of Western Nevada was both candidates' first meeting in the campaign.
Contact Geoff Dornan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 687-8750.