Oceguera ready for Assembly Speaker duties | NevadaAppeal.com

Oceguera ready for Assembly Speaker duties

STEVE RANSON
Nevada Appeal News Service

FALLON – His youthful appearance belies a wealth of experience he has obtained in the Nevada Legislature in only a decade.

This 42-year-old Southern Nevada lawmaker who grew up in Fallon is now the Speaker of the Assembly, succeeding Barbara Buckley who could not run for re-election because of term limits.

John Oceguera grew up in Fallon, the son of a well-respected elementary school teacher, Eileen Montgomery, and graduated in 1986 from Churchill County High School where he competed on the state track team and played football and basketball. He also served on student council, first as junior class president and then as student council vice president in his senior year.

Yet, it was Oceguera’s love for fire science that eventually led him to Las Vegas where he became a firefighter and now an assistant fire chief.

After high school graduation, he attended Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno and received an associate degree in fire science. He also worked for the Federal Fire Department at Naval Air Station before hiring on with North Las Vegas in 1991.

Oceguera completed his four-year degree in fire administration and earned a master’s degree in public administration from UNLV and a juris doctorate in law, also from UNLV.

Oceguera, who recently talked with the Lahontan Valley News, said he has the best of both worlds. Growing up in rural Nevada has given him a solid perspective of the issues facing the smaller counties, while living in heavily populated Clark County has provided him experience in dealing with local governments and their issues.

When the Legislature convenes in Carson City in early February, Oceguera said both houses – the Assembly and State Senate – will spend much time examining the current state budget and what the future holds for spending in the Silver State.

“The last special session cut $1 billion out of the budget,” he recounted. “We really need to look at government spending and long-term reform.”

The No. 1 goal may be looking to develop a strategy for economic development and then focus on all agencies that deal with economic development to see if some services can be consolidated.

In order to do that, Oceguera said, lawmakers and state planners need to develop a vision for the future.

Oceguera said lawmakers should look upward to a decade in planning the state’s future and what services may be provided to Nevada’s residents.

He said he wants to personally meet with city councils and county commissioners throughout the state now, before the Legislature dives head-first into the a mountain of bills.

“We’re all on the same team. We represent the same constituents,” Oceguera stressed. “It’s not an us versus them. I want to come up with solutions. That’s my goal.”

Oceguera also shares the same philosophy in redistricting – or reapportionment – as does Republican Mike McGinness, the minority leader of the State Senate. Both McGinness’ and Oceguera’s families have known each other for generations. That, Oceguera feels, will be a benefit to anything the Assembly and Senate may want to accomplish.

Oceguera’s mood turns serious when discussing the upcoming session.

“No more sacred cows. Everything is on the table,” he said. “In education, it’s logic to me that if we don’t have a good quality education system, we won’t be able to attract businesses to the state.”

Oceguera said he also doesn’t see each party fighting the other. He strongly believes agreements happen in the middle.

As the Legislature grapples with budgets and a vision, Oceguera also will keep an eye out on renewable energy and its exploration in the Silver State.

“This should be a focus. We need to construct transmission lines between north and south, and move geothermal energy (produced in Northern Nevada’s rural counties) to Southern Nevada, and send the solar energy to Northern Nevada. We could become fairly self-sufficient. Nevada should be the renewable energy capital of he world.”