Thursday, Oct. 16, 2008 | 2:06 a.m.
Eight Nevada Senate seats representing Southern Nevada are on this year’s ballot, and seven are contested. Republican Mike McGinness is running unopposed in the Central Nevada District, which includes northern edges of Clark County.
Here are the candidates who the Las Vegas Sun believes would help make the best decisions in these difficult times:
In District 1, Democratic incumbent John Lee has been a steadying influence in the Legislature. He is hardworking and a moderate who can bridge partisan differences to seek common ground. The Sun endorses John Lee.
Valerie Wiener, a Democrat representing District 3, often takes the initiative in pushing important legislation in an array of areas. She brings invaluable experience and knowledge to the Legislature. The Sun endorses Valerie Wiener.
Minority Leader Steven Horsford, a Democrat representing District 4, wants to recruit and retain high-quality teachers, adjust school curriculum to better prepare students for today’s careers and set better accountability standards. Horsford believes Nevada needs to move quickly to make renewable energy an economic centerpiece. He is an energetic leader who has earned another term. The Sun endorses Steven Horsford.
The District 7 seat became open when Dina Titus decided to run for Congress. Democratic Assemblyman David Parks wants more participation in the state’s health insurance program for children. He would also like to see the Mojave Generating Station in Laughlin, which closed in 2005, converted into a facility for producing solar power. The Sun endorses David Parks.
Democratic incumbent Mike Schneider, representing District 11, is well-known for his work on laws setting standards for homeowners associations. He also believes Nevada should be aggressive in recruiting renewable energy industries. His experience will be an asset when the 2009 Legislature gets under way. The Sun endorses Mike Schneider.
The final two races under consideration fall into a different category from the aforementioned contests. The outcomes of these two bitterly contested races very well could decide which party will have the majority in the Senate — and they could determine the state’s future for years to come.
In District 6, Republican incumbent Bob Beers has distinguished himself by his hostile attitude toward government and his inherent inability to forge common ground with other lawmakers. His anti-government, anti-everything mind-set has been politically destructive. Instead of finding ways to improve the state, he has been in lock-step with Gov. Jim Gibbons’ mindless fiscal policies, providing cover for our hapless governor.
In contrast, his opponent, Allison Copening, has acquitted herself well in her first run for public office. She impresses us as a quick learner and as a political moderate whose contributions to policy discussions and lawmaking would be valuable in moving Nevada upward from its position at or near the bottom of many national rankings in terms of education and other state services. The Sun endorses Allison Copening.
In District 5, Republican Sen. Joe Heck is being challenged by Democrat Shirley Breeden. Heck is a good, decent and honorable man and would be our choice under different circumstances. At the same time we think Breeden, who has worked for more than 30 years in the Clark County School District, could become a good legislator. Breeden knows the tough times many families are undergoing and she understands it is time for a new beginning, one that demands a fresh look at meeting the long-standing needs of Nevadans.
The problems confronting the state in the immediate future and in the long term are enormous — a situation made worse by Republican Jim Gibbons, a governor in name only who still hasn’t figured out what it takes to be a leader.
Now is the time for the Legislature to step up and take the lead. But we don’t think this will happen if Republicans retain control of the Senate. Republicans would continue to mutely stand by Gibbons and do nothing if they were to remain in the majority.
We can start to tackle the tough challenges facing Nevada if Democrats control the leadership of the Senate and work with the Assembly, whose leader, Speaker Barbara Buckley, understands that this state must do better.
Republicans have controlled the Senate for 16 years, and it has been more than two decades since a Southern Nevadan has been majority leader. If Democrats are able to gain control of the Senate, and Horsford becomes majority leader, the needs of Southern Nevada will get a fairer shake.
With all of that in mind, we are confident Breeden will grow as a lawmaker if elected, representing the needs not only of Southern Nevada but also of the entire state. The Sun endorses Shirley Breeden.