Local candidates call for tolerance toward gays | NevadaAppeal.com

Local candidates call for tolerance toward gays

Dave Frank
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer

Candidates for local and state offices talked about the need for government to treat homosexuals fairly and respectfully at a forum Tuesday night.

All candidates running for Carson City offices were at the forum hosted by Carson Region Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). Incumbent Bonnie Parnell was the only candidate there running for State Assembly District 41 and Democrat nominee Jill Derby and Green Party candidate Craig Bergland were the only candidates there running for Nevada’s 2nd district U.S. Congress seat.

Skip Cannady, president of the local PFLAG chapter, said gay issues aren’t as prominent this year in Nevada as they are in California, but it still is important to have Nevada candidates who “respect diversity.”

People can disagree on issues including homosexuality, said mayoral candidate Ken Haskins, but they still need to treat each other with respect.

“The mayor needs to represent all the people in Carson City,” he said. “Everyone.”

Haskins, pastor of First Christian Church, said he used to coach a softball team that had many lesbian players, and he wouldn’t have been able to do that if the players didn’t know he was accessible and fair.

Bob Crowell, who is running against Haskins, said the goal of the mayor should be to offer respect and equal access to all citizens, no matter who they are.

One way the city could do this is to work with the Carson City School District to make sure state laws on bullying are enforced said Dennis Johnson, Ward 2 supervisor candidate. Johnson is challenging Shelly Aldean.

Aldean, the incumbent, said it’s important for anyone elected to be responsive to voters, and they shouldn’t care about what the voter’s sexual orientation is anymore than what political party they belong to.

Candidates only had two minutes to give introductions, but were encouraged to answer the questions of PFLAG supporters afterward. Dave Cook and Barbara Myers, candidates for Nevada State Board of Education, and Parnell were the only people to talk directly about gay issues.

Guy Rocha, moderator and state archivist, praised the candidates who came that night and said the forum, which might not have been possible 10 or 20 years ago, was an important step in Carson City’s history.

– Contact reporter Dave Frank at dfrank@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.