Sisolak makes Fallon campaign stop
Democratic candidate for governor, Steve Sisolak, made his first trip Churchill County on Labor Day to introduce himself to area votes and residents.
The Lahontan Valley News talked to Sisolak, who is chairman of the Clark County Commission, regarding issues primarily affecting rural counties.
Sisolak said the state is getting, in what he calls, a handle on veterans’ issues although he says more can be done. He said the homeless veterans’ problem is affecting Clark and Washoe counties because of their population. He cited the need to obtain more housing available for veterans and to work with employment.
“We have worked with some of the largest casino companies,” Sisolak said. “They have employment opportunities exclusively for veterans.”
He said veteran-owned businesses are also providing more employment opportunities for the men and women who have served their country, an area that has room to grow.
On healthcare, he said this is more of a federal-level issue, but anything the state and local level can do is something he supports and to which he is committed.
“It’s a big issue for the military,” he said. “For military, they did what we asked of them… now is our turn to take care of them.”
He also said the state must continue with the Medicaid expansion that was begun under Gov. Brian Sandoval and ensure veterans also receive the healthcare they need.
The industry boom in Northern Nevada has created a need for housing.
“Affordable housing is an issue all over the state — urban, rural, big, small,” he said, referring to the counties affected by the growth. “Housing has just gone up in price.”
Sisolak said both raw material and labor costs have risen. He said there’s an abundance of federal property in Nevada that could be acquired to help lower the land prices and make home purchases more affordable.
“This is the first generation we’re pricing our young people out of the housing market,” he added.
Along with the expansion of the workforce and the need for housing, Sisolak said water is an issue and something that must be protected. He said both the state and counties have conservation programs to deal with water.
As a member of a county commission, he said a delicate balancing act exists between the state and federal government regarding land. He said if the state and counties to assume more control of federal land, he worries about the maintenance upkeep costs with administering the land. He said maintenance costs associated with controlling the land could result in bankrupting the counties.
Sisolak said the state and counties need to work closely with the Bureau of Land Management. He also sees a need to have land available for recreation, an issue echoed by various county commissions in the rural counties.
Both the U.S. Air Force and Navy announced in 2016 plans to modernize their ranges and withdraw more land from public use. As a county commissioner in Clark County, Sisolak said he has been following the progress on the modernization for the Nellis Air Force ranges as well as the range expansion for Naval Air Station Fallon. He said the expansions are a national defense issue.
“I’m a big supporter of the military,” Sisolak said. “Nellis and NAS Fallon are big economic drivers in the communities they’re located in.”
Sisolak, however, said he supports reasonable land expansions for both ranges.
Although the last Legislature approved to fund education an addition $600 million over the next two years, Sisolak said much more work needs to be done.
“Education is the great equalizer,” Sisolak said.
In his travel around the state, he learned the average class in Winnemucca, for example is 16 to 17 students, while in larger districts the number is 35 to 40 students.
“It’s impossible to teach 40 kids in a classroom as far as I’m concerned,” he said.
Sisolak said districts need to recruit and retain good teachers, increase pay and value the importance of teachers.