Nevada Attorney General candidate questions
October 18, 2018
Record of service: Wes Duncan most recently served as the First Assistant Attorney General of Nevada from 2015 to 2017. In this office, Wes served as vice chair of the Sexual Assault Rape Kit Working Group where he was instrumental in crafting policies to eradicate the backlog of more than 8,000 rape kits. He also served as vice chair of the Substance Abuse Working Group that worked to develop policies combatting drug addiction. Prior to this, Wes served as Assemblyman for Assembly District 37, where he defeated the incumbent by personally knocking on over 20,000 doors to speak with his future constituents. Before seeking elected office, Wes served as a prosecutor in Clark County, where he prosecuted. He is a former active duty Air Force officer and serves as a JAG officer in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. In 2008 he deployed to Iraq, where he helped prosecute terrorists in Baghdad.
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Education: AA – Columbia College; BA – University of California; JD – Ohio State University
A brief statement about your platform: In terms of what the Attorney General is responsible for, the most pressing issues are 1) the deficit of mental health resources within local law enforcement agencies, 2) domestic violence prevention and how we take care of those affected, and 3) violent crime. These issues disrupt lives, families and employment.
There are effective mental health resources already in some parts of the state that we can replicate with assistance of settlement and grant funds from the AG's office. Services including psychiatric ERs and Mobile Outreach Safety Teams (MOST) are proven public safety models that can be easily replicated.
In terms of addressing domestic violence, the biggest missing link is transitional housing for victims. Nevada is the second worst state in the U.S. for men killing women. A fundamental need in addressing that problem is to remove victims (and potential victims, children, pets, etc.) from those situations as efficiently as possible. Violent crime, usually perpetrated by hardened career criminals, can only be deterred by the prospect of hard jail time. I believe we need to increase sentencing standards for violent criminals, home invaders, etc.
What is one issue affecting the lives of Northern Nevadans that you would work to fix?
A large percentage of police interactions occur in proximity to mental illness (this often occurs when someone represents a threat to themselves or others during a mental health crisis, and sometimes breaks the law). Someone calls 9-1-1 and, too often, these people end up in jails or traditional emergency rooms that are not equipped to properly diagnose or treat them. Often times, the same individuals end up in the same jails and emergency rooms, again and again, at taxpayer expense. It is also worth noting that many mental health disorders occur in proximity to substance abuse (attempts to alleviate the disorder) which also fuels crime. As your next Attorney General, I want to reform this wasteful cycle and get our police officers back on patrol in our communities. There are effective mental health resources that already work well in some parts of our state which we should replicate statewide, including psychiatric ERs (such as the Mallory Center, in Carson City) and Mobile Outreach Safety Teams (MOST). These programs pair mental health professionals with police so that we handle these interactions appropriately and get people well while holding them accountable. This will not just save taxpayer money – it is the right way to treat people.
Being smart on crime also means knowing how to put plans into action without breaking the bank for taxpaying Nevadans. As the First Assistant Attorney General of Nevada from 2015 to 2017, I served as Vice Chair of the Sexual Assault Kit Working Group. Our mission was to clear a backlog of 8,000 untested sexual assault kits from around our state. Some of these kits dated back to the 1980s. We did just that, and we didn't charge the taxpayer a single penny. Instead, we did the hard work of securing a mix of federal grants and state settlement funds to pay for the thousands of DNA tests required to clear the backlog. As a result, the program is paid for and there have been over a dozen cold case arrests from testing those kits.
Occupation: Attorney, State Senator, State Senate Majority Leader
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; fordfornevada.com
Education: B.A., Texas A&M; M.A., George Washington University; J.D., Ph.D., M.A., The Ohio State University
Record of service: I am a former public school teacher, an experienced attorney, and a public servant. I have extensive legal experience before our courts and administrative tribunals, as a law clerk, in private practice, and as an elected official. Today, I am a partner at a Las Vegas law firm, where I focus on consumer protection. I have also litigated international child abduction cases under the Hague Convention and volunteered countless hours of pro bono legal services.
As Senate Majority Leader, I have worked hard to strengthen our communities by passing legislation aimed at combating elder abuse, increasing transparency for big pharmaceutical companies, improving our state's mental-health and substance-abuse programs, and increasing penalties for criminals who target our brave first responders and law enforcement. I also passed legislation to reduce and ultimately end the backlog of untested rape kits in Nevada, as well as strengthening internet privacy and cybersecurity bills. My priority has always been and will continue to be to protect Nevada families.
A brief statement about your platform: In the last few years, the Attorney General's office in Nevada has become a vehicle to promote partisan politics and advance an extreme, ideological agenda that is far outside the mainstream and puts special interests ahead of our families. Nevadans deserve better from their top law enforcement officer. I will be an Attorney General who always puts Nevada families first. Whether that is combating workplace sexual harassment — including making sure that taxpayers won't have to foot the bill to defend harassers, taking on wage theft, improving programs to combat drug addiction and address mental health, keeping our kids safe at school, or taking on scammers, criminals and drug dealers that prey on our communities, my focus will always be on keeping Nevadans safe, strengthening the middle class, and protecting our families. There is no criminal too ruthless and no corporation too powerful that I won't take on if they are hurting Nevada's families. And if the federal government tries to target our state, I will act as the first line of defense to stop them from attacking our citizens and the values we hold dear.
What is one issue affecting the lives of Northern Nevadans that you would work to fix?
A top priority for me will be keeping Nevadans safe, whether they are at home, at work or out in their communities. It is clear to me we must work on improving Nevada's mental health and substance abuse programs, as well as crack down on prescription drug companies who profit off of dangerous addictions. The number of fatal heroin overdoses in Nevada has nearly tripled since 2010, and Nevada's amphetamine death rate is the highest in the nation. Not only is the human cost of this public health emergency is staggering, there is also a significant financial cost to those suffering from drug addiction, their families, our health care system, law enforcement and Nevada's economy. Each year, opioid abuse costs $740 billion nationwide due to crime, lost work productivity and health care spending. As Attorney General, I will use a multi-pronged, integrated approach to address the substance abuse epidemic from all stages, from prevention to treatment.
I will create a holistic landscape of treatment and support services, so Nevadans suffering from substance abuse dependency can find a path to recovery. In the state senate, I successfully fought to expand mobile mental health units, in which a clinical social worker and a police officer attend to Nevadans who are experiencing a mental health crisis. These units aim to make sure Nevadans with mental health issues, including those with substance abuse disorders, get help and ensure our communities are safe.
I have visited the Washoe County Crossroads Program and other rehabilitation centers in Nevada, and not only do these programs help people to transition out of a life of drug addiction but they also save taxpayers millions of dollars every year. We should also better utilize diversion courts, so that those with mental health and addiction issues get treatment and become productive members of society. In my visits to these diversion courts in northern Nevada, I found that they have had a very high rate of success in getting people the help that they need, and as attorney general, I will look at how we can better utilize and support diversion courts.
As Attorney General, Aaron will work with governor, state legislature, law enforcement, community organizations, health care providers and other stakeholders to expand access to programs with proven success rates. If necessary, I will utilize settlement funds to ensure treatment programs have the funding to help Nevadans get the help they need and return to our communities as law-abiding citizens. Finding and supporting innovative programs like this that work to help increase public safety and help get people treatment will be a priority of mine if I am elected attorney general.
Joel F. Hansen
Party: Independent American
Education: Graduated with honors from Sparks High School, from Brigham Young University in Spanish and Political Science, and from J. Reuben Clark Law School as a Doctor of Law.
Record of service: I have served the youth of Nevada most of my adult life, mainly with the Boy Scouts of America. I am an Eagle Scout, and I have helped numerous young men attain that rank. I served as Venturer and Explorer Advisor for many years. I also served on a county wide Explorer Council as chairman. I was recognized for my service to young men when I received the Silver Beaver award, the highest adult award a local council can bestow. I have also served my church in many positions, including being a missionary, and being a Sunday School teacher, a high counselor, a mission president, a quorum advisor, a bishop, and and a choir director and young men's advisor, in which positions I am still serving. I also served as a sergeant in the Nevada National Guard. I was secretary of the Nevada Defense Trial Lawyers for several years.
A brief statement about your platform: We should follow the Constitution. It is the guardian of our liberties. I will help keep our make our homes safe by prosecuting violent criminals vigorously. We need to protect our Children by letting willing teachers keep a firearm handy (but locked up) to defend their students and themselves from criminal mass shooters. I will work with the NRA and other groups to sponsor gun safety and use by giving teachers training especially designed for their needs. As long as schools are gun free zones, violent shooters will pick them as easy targets. Also, I will work to protect our school children's privacy by not allowing members of the biological opposite sex to choose to shower with the other gender. I will bring indecent exposure charges against anyone who enters unclothed into the locker room of the opposite sex. As attorney general I will cooperate with federal authorities in enforcing immigration laws. Nevada cannot become a sanctuary state. I will stand for the second amendment and do all in my power to protect our right to keep and bear arms. And I will protect senior citizens from greedy guardians who prey on the elderly and steal their assets. I will prosecute these criminals.