When reading the campaign material of the incumbent Democrat, Mike Sprinkle, in Assembly District 30, the thing that jumps out is what’s not there—the words Democrat or Democratic. He said he’s heard about that absence from people when he walks door to door in the district.
“It’s not that I’m embarrassed, but for me, when I’m an elected official, I’m representing everybody, and I’m open to everybody’s views,” Sprinkle said.
If he feels conflicted about his party, he’s not the only one. His Republican opponent, Lauren Scott, has posted an explanation of where she is on the matter:
“In 2009, I became disenchanted with both political parties, and I registered as non-partisan. Non-partisan candidates rarely win election and I could not, in all good conscience, run for office as a Democrat. Although we share many of the same ideals when it comes to social issues and human rights, I tend to disagree with the Democrats on issues of taxation and business development. I registered as a Republican for the first time in 2011. I will work with both parties to identify and reduce wasteful government spending and pursue initiatives to give small business owners the tools they need to get Nevada working again.”
In other words, the candidates feel a lot like most voters when it comes to political parties. But when asked what would be their priorities at the legislature, the candidates have different interests.
Scott has an endorsement from Nevada’s Republican governor and her issue stances tend to be right of center. She is supportive of alternative energy sources but objects to some of the approaches used in Nevada, as when the legislature required power companies to supply certain percentages of power from alternatives.
“In our energy policy, I would have mandates removed,” she said. “We have mandates pushed by Democratic policymakers.
“We’re paying higher energy rates as a result, and that drives away business to states where rates are cheaper. I’m a supporter of alternatives but not of mandates. Let the market decide what is the best mix. Mandates are a big mistake.”
In education, she believes that “vocational is more useful,” in part because it is a way of supplying the kind of workers corporations moving to the state seek.
“There are faster ways to get people working,” she said. “We need to get them retrained, retooled and back to work. We have faculty at UNR making over a million dollars a year. That has little effect on my district, which has working people and skilled labor.”
Besides energy and vocational training, Scott said she would hope to do something about tax fairness.
“Looking at fiscal policy and taxes, we have an outdated tax base, very narrow.”
She said studies like the Price Waterhouse/Urban Institute study of Nevada taxation have called for changes.
However, state legislators have been relatively indifferent to issues of fairness in taxation in the past, preferring to focus on something that can get through the Legislature and will work.
“And I think that’s changing,” she said. “I think the governor is taking the lead. But my primary focus is to get the economy moving and get the economy moving through business development and job creation.”
Sprinkle said he had “a pretty successful session last session” that helped him build relationships with other legislators, which will aid his district.
“Every single one of the bills I sponsored went through,” he said. “That’s a 100 percent score.”
He said he will continue an interest he already followed in his first session.
“Human trafficking is an important personal issue for me that I’ve seen as a paramedic,” he said. “I want to establish an account that funds services for victims.”
He has asked the bill drafting division of the legislature to have a measure drawn up for him creating new increased penalties for crimes associated with human trafficking.
In another field, Sprinkle said he wants legislation to shift emphasis from subsidizing new corporations to come to Nevada to helping already existing businesses.
“Any existing business willing to come into the community and give money to the local higher education system should be able to get a tax abatement,” he said.
He puts greater value on higher education as a way of helping the economy than Scott, talking about a “more educated work force” that can fuel economic growth.
Finally, he has plans for a program to deal with cruelty to animals—using counseling to intervene with people who hurt animals because “it’s frequently a precursor to them going on to hurting humans.” The existing penalties against cruelty to animals would still be in place, but a counseling requirement would be added on. (Those penalties were increased at the 2011 Nevada Legislature.)
Sprinkle pointed to the case in August of a man killing several dogs at a south Reno motel, and Las Vegas animal advocates point to Carroll Cole, the first person executed by lethal injection in Nevada (for a double murder/rape), who reportedly abused animals as a child. But the scholarship may be less conclusive. A review of the available studies for the Bulletin of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law found, “Research reports in the literature are inconsistent and inconclusive regarding a possible relationship between animal cruelty and aggression against people. Although a single act is not predictive of another act, a pattern of substantial animal abuse may conceivably be associated with a pattern of recurrent violence directed against people.”
In any event, the counseling might help prevent further abuse of animals, no matter the effect on human interactions.
Sprinkle’s incumbency seems not to bother Scott, who said she has been at the last three legislatures as an activist. She also sits on the Nevada Equal Rights Commission, appointed by Gov. Sandoval.
District 30 takes in a portion of Sun Valley in the north, then drops down to include the Rock/Oddie area in Sparks. From there it sweeps east taking in Sparks from downtown all the way to the eastern edge of the city. It also drops farther south to include neighborhoods that nearly encircle the airport.