Teri Vance: A chat with the governor
I met with Gov. Brian Sandoval on Friday for a story I’m working on (you’ll see that one soon).
While I know the governor is super busy, he still gave me his entire attention and I ended up having a really good chat with him about his time in office, his philosophies on politics and his thoughts about his term coming to an end.
It wasn’t necessarily part of the interview, but also not off the record … so you know what that means. Yes, it means it goes in my column.
During his last eight years in office, Sandoval has committed to restoring the Capitol and preserving artifacts of the state’s history.
The ship wheel from the USS Nevada — which he salvaged from a storage shed — hangs above his desk. That, and other items, he plans to install in the Capitol Museum upon his departure.
After three trips to the Middle East to visit troops, he has been particularly dedicated to veterans issues.
“That gave me such a deep appreciation and respect for the men and women who serve our country,” he said. “Any way we can recognize them, we should do it.”
While visiting the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa, Canada, he saw what they called the “Book of Heroes.” In it was written every person killed in active duty. Every day, a page of the book is turned.
He took that idea and, with the help of Caleb Cage, who was then the executive director of the Nevada Division of Veterans Affairs, re-created the idea here.
They commissioned a local bookmaker to create the book and a local calligrapher to write the names.
Every Nevadan in battle killed since the Civil War is collected in the book that’s now on display in the Capitol. Every Monday, Capitol Police turn a page in the book.
Above the conference table in his office he hung a painting depicting two men on horseback exchanging a handshake.
(At the time, I wasn’t planning on writing this column, so I didn’t look too closely. I think it was “The Dubious Handshake” painted by famed Western artist Charles Russell. But I’m not sure, which makes me a little disappointed in myself).
Details aside, it’s the essence of the painting that struck Sandoval’s attention.
“It’s not just art,” he said. “A handshake is a handshake. That meant, ‘This is done.’”
That’s the approach he’s taken as governor, he said, as he was willing to cross party lines while at that very table.
“We would compromise and work out a deal,” he said. “I always tried to do what was in the best interest of the people in the state.”
Sandoval’s term comes to a close at the end of the year. He has no immediate political aspirations, but is proud of his work as Nevada’s governor.
“I love my job,” he said. “For a kid that grew up in Sparks raising sheep, it’s amazing.”
Teri Vance is a journalist, freelance writer and native Nevadan. Contact her with column ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.