Clinton’s grassroots tour stops in Fallon |

Clinton’s grassroots tour stops in Fallon

Steve Ranson
Emily Ruiz, right, Hillary Clinton’s state director, facilitates a grassroots meeting in Fallon on Wednesday.

The “Every Nevadan Tour” to further define Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and to hear what Nevadans think on a wide rage of topics made a stop in Fallon for a Wednesday breakfast meeting at Jerry’s Restaurant.

This is the first visit ahead of the Feb. 20 caucus in Churchill County from any candidate or a campaign staff although candidates have already visited Reno, Carson City or Las Vegas.

“We want to hear from you and what issues are important,” said Emily “Emmy” Ruiz, Clinton’s state chairwoman.

Ruiz told more than a dozen attendees, most of them local Democrats, the Clinton campaign is working hard for every vote. The Texas native is no stranger to working political campaigns. In 2008, she was a field organizer for Clinton in Nevada and then campaigned for the Democrats in 2012. She also told the small group that when she visited downtown Fallon Tuesday night after her team traveled here from Winnemucca, she took a photo of the Fallon Theatres’ marquee.

“I’m so happy to be back in Nevada… I’m in love with Nevada again,” she said.

In August, she said the Nevada team will have 22 people on the ground to ensure Clinton becomes Nevada’s nominee after the caucus vote.

Ruiz said the local community has a memory of Clinton when she and Sen. Harry Reid, now the minority leader from Nevada, visited Fallon on April 12, 2001, with other lawmakers to learn more about the leukemia cluster and its impact on the area. She was a member of the Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Churchill County elementary school teacher Kathleen Williams-Miller said she remembers Clinton’s trip to Nevada 14 years ago.

“She came out here to talk to the families,” she said. “She really cares. She was here for us during the leukemia cluster.”

Ruiz followed up, saying Clinton has a long history with Nevadans.

Now, as Ruiz and her team cover the rural counties of Northern Nevada for six days, she said their work is for the long term as they begin to engage supporters before the caucus to learn more about the issues and to identify people who would like to work the caucus. Based on their goals, she said the Clinton campaign is still forming polices and a platform.

During the 90-minute session in Fallon, her team heard concerns about education, employment, the Affordable Healthcare Act and the military.

Larry Jackson, vice chairman of the Churchill County Democrats, said he is disappointed with some of the healthcare provisions.

“Why is healthcare more for profit?” he asked.

Ruiz said that question comes up often and also why many physicians do not accept Medicare.

Jackson also would like to see the Young Democrats and young voters become more involved with the upcoming election. He said volunteers have worked on previous campaigns, but the lists of those who helped seem to have “gone away with the candidate.”

He said a good database of volunteers who worked on previous campaigns would help future candidates.

“We’ll look at that,” Ruiz said. “We could do better.”

The discussion also focused on how volunteers can help all candidates … from local to national by beginning their work from the bottom up.

Joan Downs, a member of the Fallon Shoshone Paiute Tribe, said the tribe has been fighting for a hospital that would be operated by Indian Health Services. Nevada once had an IHS hospital serving American Indians, but the nearest hospitals for Nevada’s American Indians are now in the Phoenix, Ariz., area.

She said many major medical procedures are conducted there.

Science teacher Chuck Kaiser said he would like to see the nation take the lead, especially in improving transportation and the infrastructure. Dr. Doris Dwyer, who retired this year from Western Nevada College as a history professor, said Clinton is very qualified to speak to the nation on the Iran negotiations involving that country’s nuclear program and economic sanctions.

“I would also like to see more Democrats weigh in on this,” she said.

Lori Kaiser, another teacher, said she is concerned about healthcare issues and doesn’t want to see the country take a step back regarding women’s services.

When she was a teenager in the early 1970s, she said many women’s’ service for young girls weren’t available, but she wants them to remain for this and future generations.

Jackson had a concern about education.

“The world we live in today requires an associate degree or trade school degree for someone to have a middle class living,” he said.

Ruiz said a woman in Ely told her that she and her husband were clinging to the middle class.

One idea Jackson had was to change the standard kindergarten through 12th-grade education structure to kindergarten through an associate’s degree.

“The challenge is not going to school, but how do students afford it,” Ruiz interjected.

During the rural tour, Ruiz said Nevadans shared concerns with her team about national defense and funding and veterans’ issues, especially with their health care.

With concerns about learning, the teachers who gathered at Fallon’s rural meeting expressed frustration that they are teaching to a test, not to the entire student. One retired teacher said teachers need more leeway.

After their Fallon stop, the “Every Nevadan Tour” met with Fernley residents at noon before heading to Reno. The tour ends today with meetings at Yerington and Hawthorne.