Four candidates for governor spoke with The Nevada Independent En Espanol’s radio show on Monday, taking questions on their policy stances and making the case to a Spanish-speaking audience about why they’re the best fit to serve the Hispanic community in the state’s top elected role.
Here are some of the responses from Democrats Steve Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani, as well as Republicans Dan Schwartz and Jared Fisher. Republican frontrunner Adam Laxalt did not respond to requests for interviews.
The Clark County commissioner, a Democrat, said she’s a board member of Dream Big Nevada, a group founded by prominent immigration activist and DREAMer Astrid Silva that helps people finance the cost of immigration processes, among other activities. She said she was also part of the Immigrant Coalition, a group that met with police to raise concerns about the way the agency works with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) under what’s called a 287(g) agreement.
She’s upset with some of the immigration enforcement activities happening now, and believes it’s having an adverse effect on how immigrant communities trust police.
“We are having families split up, we are having people deported before their own family members even know. We have to stop that, and what’s happening at the border is just wrong especially with the asylum seekers,” she said. “It’s a moral outrage in my mind and so as governor I will work with the community to make sure we are safe. Even Metro will tell you that our COPS [Community Oriented Policing Services] officers are not getting the same kind of cooperation that they used to from many in the undocumented community.”
She also pointed to work she did as a legislator dating back to 1991 in collaboration with a Hispanic Republican businessman, Ray Vega, to clear barriers for Hispanic enterprises.
“I’ve always worked with the Hispanic community,” she said. “I’ve been to Mexico 30 times, I’ve been to Nicaragua, I love to travel, Mexico is always like going home to me and always will be. I respect the people, the culture, the food — I make a mean carnita myself — so I have always reached out to the community. I didn’t do it just because I’m running for governor.”
The Clark County Commission chairman said he’ll offer good health care, education and jobs for the Hispanic community.
“It needs to be accessible and it needs to be affordable,” he said about health care. “They want a quality education for their kids. We’ve got brand new schools in Summerlin and Green Valley. In the urban core, the schools have been underserved.”
He also pointed to his work in securing a stadium for the Raiders. The project has been criticized because it’s using $750 million in public funding drawn from hotel room taxes.
“My opponent has taken me on for voting for jobs. I don’t care what she says. I’d do it again because it’s real easy to say you’re voting against jobs when you have a job and she’s got a job,” he said. “For the tens of thousands of men and woman who went to work because we funded the expansion of the convention center and the stadium — they appreciate that and that’s part of being an elected official — helping the private sector create more jobs. I’m proud of that. When you have a job you can support your family.”
Schwartz said he respects the values he sees in the Hispanic community and also wants to ensure conservative voices within the community are elevated.
“My Spanish isn’t as good as it was in seventh and eighth grade, but I think the Hispanic community is a very important community within Nevada. It’s roughly about 30 percent of the population, or 15-16 percent of the votes,” he said. “We don’t listen to the conservative voices within the Hispanic community. I think as has been pointed out, the Hispanic community is extremely hard working. They’ve immigrated here … I think there are values within the Hispanic community that should be respected and I think it’s important to look at all of them.”
Fisher says he looks for Spanish speakers as employees for his tour company, which reaches out to international tourists. He said if elected governor, he’d build a diverse cabinet.
“I would make sure that I staff my cabinet with people with multi diversity so they can represent those different communities,” he said. “I don’t claim to be the most knowledgeable person in the Hispanic community … but I can definitely bring people to my cabinet who understand that and I’ll put them in charge of those communities and they’ll report back to me.”
Fisher also said he wanted to ensure immigrants have business opportunities and entrepreneurship training.
Disclosure: Steve Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani have donated to The Nevada Independent. You can see a full list of donors here.
Jackie Valley contributed to this story. Cafecito con Luz y Michelle, The Nevada Independent’s Spanish language radio show, is broadcast Mondays from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. on ESPN Deportes, 1460 AM in Las Vegas. See the full episode on Facebook.