Giunchigliani: I have experience to be Nevada’s governor
February 20, 2018
If Chris Giunchigliani wins the race for governor, she would be the first woman elected to that office.
Since Catherine Cortez Masto was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016, governor is the only major elective post in Nevada never held by a woman.
But Giunchigliani says people should vote for her, simply put, because she's the best qualified candidate.
She spent 16 years in the Nevada Assembly, nearly all of that time as a member of the Ways and Means Committee that builds the state budget. She was vice chairman of that committee.
She followed that with a dozen years on the Clark County Commission. Before that, she was president of the state teachers union for four years and was a special education teacher in middle school for some 20 years. As union president, she said, she has been to every school in the state that existed in the early 1990s — including giving the commencement speech to a graduating class of seven in Austin.
To get to the governor's office, she must first win a hotly contested Democratic primary against fellow Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak.
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"I'm the best qualified," she said. "I know the state, I know the government, I respect the institutions."
At the top of her list is fixing Nevada's 50-year-old public school funding formula — the Nevada Plan. She says the formula needs to be updated so education money gets to the places and programs that need it. That includes putting "categorical funding" set aside for specific programs and outside the formula back inside the formula. With her extensive experience in public education, she said she has the knowledge to fix the system.
Mental health, addiction and poverty are also on her list.
"For mental health, they added money back in the last two sessions but it was never enough," she said. "They never restored what was cut in the '80s and '90s."
Mental health issues and addiction, she said, leads to poverty and homelessness. She said the key is focusing in the places that truly need it.
She said that ties back to an education system that has to provide training enabling students to get jobs.
"We have to build a pathway from poverty, getting them out of poverty so you're reframing and shaping rather than just throwing money at it."
When it comes to economic development, Giunchigliani said she would shift the focus more toward Nevada-based businesses as well as women and minority owned businesses.
"We should be promoting them, championing our moms and pops," she said. "Why are we not helping them expand?"
She said the state should be identifying businesses and services missing in different parts of the state, especially small, communities, and helping fill those needs. A lot of that, she said, can be done in partnership with local governments, "rather than the state doing it to them."
Beyond the economic issues, she said, Nevada needs to promote conservation, the arts and culture.
"We need to protect Tahoe, the Rubies, Lamoille, Ichthyosaur," she said. "We've got some jewels here."
She said state support for the arts also needs to be expanded.
"Arts and culture builds a community," she said. "Nevada artists, performers and writers, we've got a good base but I want to expand that."
"After I lost Gary, I thought I was done with politics," she said referring to her husband who was killed a year ago in a car crash. "After I came out of my year-long fog, I felt I still have something to give."
"I don't need the job," she said. "I want it."
She said she wants to be governor to make Nevada a better place.
She quoted longtime Nevada political consultant Ralph Denton as saying, "there are politicians who want to get things done and politicians who want to be somebody."
"I want to get things done," she said.
Giunchigliani said she raised $1 million in just a couple of months after announcing and has 200 or more people show up for events promoting her candidacy — even in heavily Republican Elko.