Name: Cheryl Lau
Address: P.O. Box 76, Carson City, NV 89702
Phone number and campaign Web site: 883-2988;
Education: BME, Indiana University; MAT, Smith College;
DMA, University of Oregon; JD, University of San Francisco
Profession: Attorney; Vice President of Transportation Inc.;
Judge Pro Tempore, Carson City Justice & Municipal Courts
Political experience: Nevada Secretary of State; General
Counsel to the US House of Representatives
Please write a short biography of yourself (this answer may be up to 200 words; you might include such things as birthplace, career, community involvement/volunteer efforts, family, etc.)
I was born in Hawaii but chose to live in Nevada 27 years ago because of the beauty and the efficiency of the state. I began my career as a teacher, and after more than twelve years in the classroom, I became a deputy attorney general with the State of Nevada. I was proud to later serve as Nevada’s Secretary of State where I worked each and everyday to strengthen our business climate. Following my service as Secretary of State, I went to Washington DC to become the General Counsel to the US House of Representatives. I currently work with my husband in a small business in Carson City and serve as a Judge Pro Tempore in the Carson City Municipal Court system.
I’m the secretary of the International Goodwill Ambassadors Circle, the chairperson of the Steering Committee for the Chinese Workers Museum, and am a National Association of Secretaries of State emeritus member.
I enjoy time in the mountains with my husband, Garth and spending time with family.
Why are you running for State Assembly?
As a teacher of more than twelve years, I believe that our educational system is failing our children. We need to direct more money to the classroom and reduce class sizes so our children get the education and attention they deserve. Moreover, in these challenging economic times, my business experience and my service as Secretary of State, make me uniquely qualified to help get Nevada’s economy back on track. I became Secretary of State at the end of an economic downturn in the early ’90s. I am experienced in what needs to be done to get our economy moving again.
What makes a good legislator?
A good legislator listens to her constituents, acts in the best interest for Carson City, Washoe County and its citizens, and is always accessible to those who need her. A good legislator advocates for the needs of the community and not just for a partisan agenda. A good legislator has the constant willingness to put others ahead of herself and to truly serve the people.
What would your priorities be if elected?
In addition to improving education, we must help families and small businesses weather this tough economic storm. If someone has lost their job and another person can’t afford their home any longer, there’s only one thing that’s on their minds…figuring out how to make it month to month. Nothing else matters.
With getting our economy moving again we can talk about all sorts of ideas and programs but it will just be that…talk. We need to increase incentives to attract new businesses and jobs, stabilize our housing downturn and work to get energy prices under control.
Should certain tax increases or new taxes be considered as part of the solution to the state’s budget crisis? If so, what taxes would you consider increasing or adding?
No. Our economy is in its worst condition in a generation; government cannot in good conscience go to citizens who are losing their jobs, their homes, and their last bit of stability and say, “Government needs more money. Pay more.” Tough decisions need to be made by the Executive and Legislative branches, but we should not look to taxpayers to dig deeper. Increasing taxes will cause additional layoffs, fewer tourists to visit our state, and less new development.
If your answer to the previous question is no, would you say that you will never support any kind of tax or fee increase?
It is important that people are able to keep their hard-earned monies for themselves and their families. It’s crucial that small businesses can start, hire new employees and grow. It’s counterproductive to talk about taking more money out of Nevada’s families’ pockets if we’re talking about trying to spur economic growth.
If you do not favor tax increases at this time, in what areas would you make further cuts?
The SAGE Commission in just a short time has reported sizeable suggested cuts in government spending. I would seek to prioritize and cut programs which are unnecessary, irrelevant, and under a cost basis analysis, too expensive for the results. Government must learn to live within its means. We must also examine the cost of illegal immigration on our government. We should not be discussing the cutting of services for legal citizens before we have fully exhausted our efforts to curtail the costs of illegal immigration.
Are there areas of the budget that should never be cut?
We need to use a scalpel and not a hatchet when dealing with our weak economy and our budget. We need to set priorities (healthcare for children, education, public safety, etc). However, within a few years we’ve gone from a government surplus in the hundreds of millions of dollars to deficits of over $1 billion. Economically we’ve been one of the hardest hit states in the country and we need to be extremely careful and cautious on how we proceed.
Is more funding necessary to improve the quality of Nevada’s much-maligned schools? If so, where should that money be spent? If not, what are the keys to improvement?
In a business, if you want to look at a company’s priorities, look at its budget. The same is true with everything. Our schools do need more funding but looking at the breakdown of education dollars going to the classroom, it’s no wonder our schools are in trouble. Money should be spent on effective teachers, classrooms, and educational tools…NOT on administrators. It seems a prudent step to demand that at least 2/3 of our education funding be directed to the classroom.
Should the Nevada State Prison be closed as part of a solution to the budget crisis? Why?
No. There would be a loss of jobs and what would happen in the future if the prison population rises?
What is your assessment of the actions the governor has taken to solve the state’s budget problems? Has he set the proper priorities, and how would your priorities have differed?
There are areas where I would have acted differently, but considering the extraordinary economic times Nevada is in we’ve managed through it. Attempting to get input from all agencies and entities involved before determining gubernatorial priorities is critical. Allow those closest to the user (we the people) to make recommendations for what can be trimmed or eliminated. Let the experts give their draft rationales and proceed from there in an informed manner. Regardless, we must stay within our budget and demonstrate fiscal responsibility in managing taxpayer resources.
Would you seek to work with the governor if you are elected? How?
I would work with both the Governor and the Speaker in a cooperative manner and help to generate new ideas for the betterment of the state. These are not times to be petty or disagreeable even if we may disagree on a policy position.
Would you favor re-examining the state’s tax structure toward avoiding a “boom and bust” economy?
Times have changed and the tax structure remains the same. The state’s tax structure should be reviewed to be as fair as possible and where we can plan for our future in a prudent fashion. Expanding the Rainy Day Fund to help smooth out the hard times is a sound step. However, the law needs to be written to keep funding for the Rainy Day Fund out of the discretion of the politicians from year to year…otherwise the politicians will spend and say, “there wasn’t enough money to set any aside this year. We’ll do it later.” That won’t work. It needs to be automatic.
Is illegal immigration a problem in Nevada? If so, in what ways, and what, if anything, can the Legislature do to address this issue?
Yes. Although illegal immigration is directly overseen by the Federal government, it is also a state problem. The Federal government has failed to act and failed to do what’s in the interest of our nation. As a result of Washington DC’s ignoring this issue we must act at the local level to ensure we are not directing scarce taxpayer dollars and services to those who should not be receiving them. Unfortunately only the Federal government can ultimately secure our nation’s borders but we can and must stop incentivizing it here in Nevada.
Please summarize any other information you would like voters to know before casting their votes in this race.
My experience as a teacher, a small business co-owner, an attorney, General Counsel to the US House of Representatives, a judge pro tempore, and having been a Nevada constitutional officer, gives me the experience to be the Assemblywoman we need right now. Keeping the status quo isn’t going to fix our current problems. I have the unique experience to bring change for Assembly District 40, Carson City, and our state.