Whom should you vote for in the midterm elections? And why?

An election worker puts a voting card into a ballot box during primary election voting at the Green Valley Presbyterian Church in Henderson Tuesday, June 12, 2018.
Photo: Steve Marcus

In an expanse of desert 35 miles from the nearest town sits a tent city where hundreds of child immigrants are locked away in detention, wondering when they’ll see their parents again.

It could have happened here.

In a rural community, a woman in need of specialized health care is unable to get it because the only provider in the state is hours away from her home.

It could have happened here.

In adoption offices, LGBTQ couples can be turned away based on a law that allows faith-based groups working in the child welfare system to deny services “under circumstances that conflict with the provider’s sincerely held religious beliefs.”

It could have happened here. But it didn’t, for one reason. In recent years, Nevadans have had the good judgment to elect moderate leaders whose mission is to enact good policy as opposed to advancing an extremist ideological political agenda.

Quick reference guide

• U.S. Senate: Jacky Rosen, D. Why: Rosen will bring a bipartisan, solutions-based approach to the Senate.

• U.S. House District 1: Dina Titus, D. Why: Titus done an exceptional job of serving Nevadans’ interests, first as a distinguished state legislator and then as a congresswoman.

• U.S. House District 3: Susie Lee, D. Why: Lee proved her leadership ability as a powerhouse in community service and business in Southern Nevada.

• U.S. House District 4: Steven Horsford, D. Why: Horsford served Nevadans well in this district after winning the seat in 2012, particularly with his bold leadership on immigration reform.

• Governor: Steve Sisolak, D. Why: Sisolak has displayed results-oriented, pragmatic leadership as a member of the Board of Regents and then the Clark County Commission.

• Nevada Attorney General: Aaron Ford, D. Why: Ford, the Nevada Senate majority leader in 2017, stands out for his experience in public service and leadership ability.

• Ballot Question 1, Marsy’s Law: No. Why: There are better ways of enhancing and protecting victims’ rights than resorting to tinkering with the state Constitution.

• Ballot Question 2, Pink Tax Repeal: Yes. Why: This measure, which would eliminate sales tax on feminine hygiene products, makes perfect sense in a state that exempts other necessities like food and prescription drugs.

• Ballot Question 3, The Energy Choice Initiative: No. Why: Nevada should open up its energy market so that consumers can have a choice of providers, but there’s a better way to go about this than revising the Nevada Constitution.

• Ballot Question 4, Medical Patient Tax Relief Act: Yes. Why: This measure, which would exempt medical devices like oxygen delivery systems from taxation, also is in line with other exemptions on necessities.

• Ballot Question 5, The Automatic Voter Registration Initiative: Yes. Why: The so-called Motor Voter initiative makes registration more convenient and more secure.

• Question 6, The Renewable Energy Promotion Initiative: Neutral. Why: We believe that market forces will make it inevitable that the state will hit that target with or without a constitutional amendment.

Elections have consequences. They define who we are as a people. And now we have a chance to show the world as a people we’re reasonable, civil and focused on solving problems.

We’re facing an array of issues, and we need serious people working on them: fixing education, rebuilding the middle class, ensuring health care is available to everyone, building strong alliances with friends and strong defenses from enemies, encouraging trade, unifying a divided population, ferreting out government corruption, safeguarding our elections, fixing the crushing student load debt problem, propelling sensible businesses growth in Nevada, and many, many more.

That’s why this year’s election is as critical as any in our nation’s history.

The far-right extremism that fueled the Trump presidency has shaken our nation’s core values of equality, honesty and decency, divided us and left us on the brink of authoritarianism.

In a nation that has celebrated the contributions of its immigrants, thousands of immigrant children were separated from their parents and locked away in cages in places like the sprawling tent city in Tornillo, Texas. In Washington and in state capitals, Trump and those who share his hateful mindset adopted policies eroding or eliminating the rights of followers of certain religions and of LGBTQ Americans.

States have adopted voting restrictions making it difficult for low-income voters and Americans of color to participate in elections. Women’s equality, reproductive rights and access to health care have been targeted.

And the list goes on.

In Nevada, we’ve been largely free from the creep of this destructive and corrosive ideology. We have remained a centrist state where, for the most part, people work together to pick the best ideas from across the political spectrum.

For that, no small amount of credit goes to our moderate Republican governor, Brian Sandoval, who routinely prioritized the best interests of Nevadans over party policy. Whether he was being an early adopter of Medicaid expansion, spearheading a tax increase for public schools or rejecting a proposal by Trump to use state National Guard forces to round up and deport immigrants, Sandoval stood as a pragmatic yet compassionate public leader.

State legislators largely followed the same model, an exception coming in 2015 when Republicans gained control of both the Assembly and Senate and passed such outrageous laws as a restriction on local governments from passing gun measures that were more strict than state statutes. That law came back to haunt Las Vegas after the Oct. 1 shooting, when local officials learned it was impossible for them to ban bump stocks.

Still, compared with legislatures that were imposing voter restrictions and spending hours on ridiculous measures like bathroom bills, Nevada’s lawmakers have been largely responsible and reasonable.

Meanwhile, until very recently, Nevada’s congressional delegates reflected much the same centrist style as Sandoval.As Trump was on his upswing as a candidate, for example, Sen. Dean Heller said he was “vehemently” opposed to him and instead endorsed Marco Rubio. And with the exception of Rep. Mark Amodei in Northern Nevada, the state’s other members of Congress strongly opposed Trump’s scorched-earth agenda.

Now, however, Heller has turned. The senator has taken a hard right and become Trump’s puppet in the name of re-election, selling out Nevadans in the process.

Which is where voters come in. And why they must cast their ballots this year, either during early voting or on Election Day.

To help establish a check on Trump and keep Nevada’s congressional delegation from shifting, it’s critical to vote Heller out of office in favor of Democrat Jacky Rosen. Likewise, Southern Nevadans must ensure that the region’s three House seats are occupied by Democrats—incumbent Dina Titus in the 1st, Susie Lee in the 3rd and Steven Horsford in the 4th.

To maintain the steady leadership established by Sandoval, voters will need to send Democrat Steve Sisolak to the governor’s office. Sisolak has taken a practical-minded, results-oriented approach as the chairman of the Clark County Commission. The GOP candidate, current Attorney General Adam Laxalt, has pursued a pro-National Rifle Association, anti-abortion and anti-immigrant agenda.

So much is at stake—our rights, our unity, our safety, our environment, our vibrant immigrant communities, our American values, our very democracy.

What’s happening elsewhere must stop. Nevada has already shown what great things can happen when rational, service-oriented leaders are in place. Now, we must continue to lead the way.

For the future of our state and our nation, there’s never been a greater need for us to vote.

This story originally appeared in the Las Vegas Weekly.
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