(Nancy Dallas) – Annie Black is running for election to the Clark County District 2 Assembly Seat. You can learn more about Annie’s background and political views at www.electannieblack.com
• Do you have a campaign team in place? Do you intend to invest your own money in this campaign? To what degree?
Yes, I have 8 primary campaign team members: Amy Beller (campaign manager), Alan Giblin (Campaign Coordinator), Gino Foggia (Grassroots Coordinator), Brett Allen (IT Director), John Kawano (Volunteer Coordinator), Jennifer Sanders (Event Coordinator), Jennifer Von Tobel (Fundraising Director) and Brooke Siebel (Finance Chair). As well as a group of 25 steady volunteers that assist me as I knock and call on the voters of District 2.
I intend to seed my campaign with a minimum of $5,000 in conjunction with an extensive fundraising program, which my team and I expect to fully fund our race.
• What are the most pressing issues facing your district? How do you intend to address them as a state legislator?
The 3 most pressing issues facing our District are:
The budget crisis: In my opinion, the first step to curing the deficit is to institute a zero based budget. Best case scenario, Nevada will have a $900,000,000 gap between revenue and spending when the legislature reconvenes in 2011. With our current system of incremental budgeting, only increases over the previous 2 years are justified, with what has been spent in all preceding years automatically being sanctioned. Basically, we can’t spend like we’re making 2007 revenue, on a 2003 income. The only way to effectively cut spending is to go through the entire budget, line by line, and review all expenditures in detail, rather than only increases. This is only possible with a zero based budget.
Unemployment: We are facing a 13.8% unemployment rate, with no sign of abating. We need to lower fees, offer incentives and tax breaks for small business as well as making the all around process of opening a business easier. We have to make it possible for remaining businesses to thrive, while also attracting new businesses into Nevada, diversifying our economy and creating more jobs.
Education: We’ve spent the last 50 years dumping money into education with inverse results. Basically, the more we spend, the worse we do. So, it’s safe to say spending more money will not fix Nevada’s ailing school system. It’s clear that we need to find ways to create accountability, linking the money that is going into the schools, to their performance. Many options have been suggested to accomplish this, from charter schools to vouchers, empowerment schools and possibly even dividing schools in Clark County into smaller districts. We have options; they just need to be instituted as opposed to being talked about.
• You have no past political experience. How do you answer to those who say you are too young and do not have the necessary experience to serve as a state legislator?
I have been actively involved in politics since I voted in my first presidential election in 2000, volunteering for candidates and participating in the Republican Party in Nevada ever since. I am in charge of the Republican Party office in The Arizona Strip and a Board Member on The Virgin River Communities where I have been lobbying on behalf of residents for projects ranging from building a new County Courthouse Campus to appealing property taxes with the County Assessor. If that doesn’t qualify as “political experience”, I don’t know what does.
In my personal opinion, you are NEVER too young to serve your country. When an 18 year old enlists in the military, nobody questions their ability to serve based on their age and I don’t believe this situation to be any different. If what people say is true, that they want the government to be run more like a business, then there isn’t a candidate in this race with more experience than me.
• What are your strongest personal attributes that you feel will serve you best as an elected official? Why do you believe you would do a better job than your Republican opponents?
My strongest attribute is the ability to speak my mind and be honest about issues I’m faced with, regardless of whether it’s popular or not. Frankly, you cannot come up with solutions if you are too afraid to acknowledge the problem. I’d have to say being the oldest of 10 kids is a pretty strong attribute as well. Nobody can survive growing up in a house with 12 people, without learning a smidgeon about diplomacy. I strongly believe that one person has the power to make a difference. I’m not jaded by the political game and I don’t have ties to any special interest or loyalties to anyone but the people of Nevada and District 2. Not to mention, being the only candidate who was born and raised in Las Vegas. This is MY hometown. It’s where my entire family lives and works and where I plan to be for the rest of my life. What happens here matters to me.
Why do I feel I’d do a better job than my Republican opponents? Well, let’s look at the top issues we’re facing in District 2:
1) The budget crisis- Who knows how to balance a budget better than a working single mother? I bring home the bacon AND fry it! I have to make tough decisions and sacrifices on a daily basis, so I understand what it takes to make a tight budget work. It’s never easy, but it’s unavoidable that hard choices will have to be made in the next legislative session. Legislators that weren’t strong enough to make those choices in the last session have only prolonged the inevitable. If they couldn’t fix the problem in 2009, how will they fix it in 2011?
2) Unemployment- I understand the stress and apprehension about whether or not you’re going to have a job and how it feels to do everything you can to ensure that people you employ have one as well. I know how hard it is to keep a business afloat in these tough economic times and the taxes, fees and hoops you’re forced to jump through to “survive”. However, people don’t go into business to “survive”, they do it to thrive and if a business is just “surviving” they’re trying, at all costs, to avoid laying people off. It’s clear that if businesses are in that position they’re not hiring employees or creating new jobs. This is not an issue you can comprehend from hearing about it, you have to live it.
3) Education- Being the only candidate with children in the public school system no one can say they’re more concerned about education than me. I have 2 sons that will be in the Clark County School District for the next 13 years. We all acknowledge that our education system needs an overhaul. In my opinion, one major element being parental involvement. When I’ve worked an 8 hour day and knocked on 150 doors, coming home and doing homework with my children isn’t always the most appealing job but it’s a job that must be done, nevertheless. As parents we have responsibilities and we must take accountability for our children’s successes and failures in school. We cannot rely purely on the idea that just sending our children to school every day means they’re being sufficiently educated.
• Do you support the importation of water from one governmental jurisdiction/water basin to another within the state of Nevada to sustain the impacts of growth? What long-term water sustainability efforts would you support for northern Nevada and the Las Vegas basin?
The Colorado River Compact between the 7 Colorado River Basin states was drawn up in 1922; it’s 88 years old. Obviously Nevada’s population back then was far less than it is today and the state had a lot less clout; we got shorted in the deal. The agreement only allocated 4% of the water rights to Nevada, while California and Arizona get the remaining 96%. Further, water disbursements were made based on inaccurate calculations with 50 years of high water level flow. Southern Nevada should not have to import water from other parts of the state but if the original compact can’t be renegotiated there are other options to solve water shortage issues.
One long term sustainability option is to have the high end users negotiate with the government of Mexico to fund desalination plants and transfer their water rights from the Colorado River Compact to Nevada. It’s the safer option. My fear is that if we suck the water out of Northern Nevada we will cause a dust bowl effect.
• Nevada is one of five states without constitutional provisions, amendments or laws providing for home rule to municipalities or counties. A ‘summit’ was recently held by Nevada city and county officials to discuss ‘home rule’ – which, among other powers, could give local jurisdictions the power to tax without legislative approval and limit the ability of the Legislature to take local government tax revenue. What is your position in regards to ‘home rule’? Elaborate.
Each city and county exists only by the charter from the state. Granting Home Rule to local government will just allow for additional taxes and bureaucratic layers of government to be forced upon the taxpayer. I am not in favor of “Home Rule”.
• As you may be aware, there is a state law banning the State Legislature from passing unfunded mandates on to local governmental entities; however, it has been proven this is easily skirted. What is your position in regards to this placing of unfunded mandates on local governmental entities as a means of alleviating State budget woes? Define what you would consider to be ‘unfunded mandates’.
If there’s a law banning the State Legislature from passing unfunded mandates, why is this even an issue? If we’re not going to allow citizens to “skirt” the law why are we allowing the government to do so to “alleviate budget woes”? Bottom line, I’m against any unfunded mandates at a federal or a state level. Mandatorily forcing any entity, whether it be the local government or an individual, to do something goes against the fundamental principles that America was founded upon. There are mandates regulating everything from health insurance to class sizes and regardless where they come from we have to pay for them. Unfunded mandate may alleviate State budget woes but my question is; what is alleviating the woes of the people who end up having to pay for them?
• What is your position in regards to the findings of the SAGE Commission? The 2009 legislature took no substantive action in regards to their recommendations. Would you support legislative re-funding of the SAGE Commission?
In my opinion The SAGE Commission was formed to allow legislators too transfer their responsibilities. I am not in support of re-funding the commission and spending taxpayer’s money to help legislators get the proverbial monkey off their back, especially when they did not implement the commission’s findings. I believe that many of the suggestions the commission made should however be implemented even if we do not re-fund the project. We paid for the information; why not put it to good use? I think it’s important for legislators to take responsibility and represent the people of their districts, not to pass the buck to a committee or commission.
• What is your position in regards to the state spending $500,000 to fund an independent tax study of the State’s tax structure by an outside expert; and, appointment by the Interim Finance Committee (IFC) of a 15 member “Nevada Vision Stakeholders Group” to study how the state is preparing for its future in regards to funding for Commerce & Industry; Education; Health & Human Services; Public Safety; and, Infrastructure?
I don’t need an “independent study” by an outside, or any other kind of expert, to diagnose the problem with taxes in Nevada. The only problem with Nevada’s tax structure is that it is too large. As for funding studies on how the state is preparing for its future, I think we have bigger fish to fry at the moment considering we are in a $900,000,000 hole, but I digress. Look, if we’re going to elect people to “legislate” and their idea of doing that is to spend more money that we don’t have on committees and commissions, as opposed to doing the work themselves, than what is the point of having them at all? When you’re living paycheck to paycheck you don’t go hire an expert to tell you how you’re going to pay your bills in the future, you save your pennies and worry about what is happening right now. Why should the government be any different?
• Do you support the current Interim Finance Committee (IFC) process, or similar concept? If not, how should the State address interim financial issues?
Understanding we need some form of Interim management, I’m concerned that one small legislative committee continues to garner massive power. We have an executive branch just for that reason, the budgets are set and the executive branch should manage the State’s business outside the legislative session. Period.
• What is your position in regards to empowering local authorities to have greater control over educational decisions? Elaborate.
I don’t believe giving more power to local, or any other type of authority, over educational decisions will solve anything. It seems to me that empowering any authority, other than the parents and the teachers, is a bad idea. When you give the people the power they become more involved in the process. As it stands, parents have no say in what happens in schools and it’s our children who are in them. I believe that’s the main source of problems in education. The power has been taken from parents and teachers and given to the government. It’s obviously not working.
• Do you support Charter Schools? School vouchers? To what degree should the state support Charter Schools and the students who attend them?
As I stated previously, we must examine every feasible option to create accountability in education. It is undeniably apparent that the system is broken. We need to model our state after others that have proven, tried and tested methods. There’s no need to re-invent the wheel.
• What is your opinion in regards to Governor Gibbon’s Education Reform proposal?
Gibbon’s Education Reform Plan consists of eliminating Collective Bargaining, The State Board of Education, the mandate on class sizes and full day kindergarten; while at the same time instituting Empowerment School Districts. As I mentioned earlier, it is my belief that the power should lie with the parents and teachers and this plan seems accomplish that objective. My concern is that the Advisory State Board is appointed by the Governor, Speaker of The Assembly and The Senate Majority Leader as opposed to having to run for the office.
• Will you support an extension of the sun-set tax increases imposed by the 2009 State Legislature? If not, how do you propose Nevada address its projected budget deficit for the next biennium?
I may not have much “political experience” but I thought the whole point of a sunset tax was that it ends, right? If we institute a “sunset tax” every other year because our legislators lack the guts to make hard choices, where is the motivation to cut spending? As I stated earlier, Nevada needs to adopt a zero based budget and cut spending across the board in order to address the deficit. It’s been proven, time and time again, that you cannot tax your way out of a recession. If anything, we should be scaling back spending and cutting taxes.
• Are there specific areas within Nevada’s governmental structure (departments) that you feel should be considered for reduction or elimination? Elaborate.
As far as I’m concerned, every department should be subject to scrutiny and considered for reduction or elimination, in the 2011 session. When you’re experiencing a hardship in your business or in your home, you’re forced to reevaluate ALL expenditures and eliminate waste. So, I ask again, why should the government be any different?
• Specifically, what measures do you believe need to be taken to enable the broadening of Nevada’s tax base and alleviating Nevada’s economic disaster?
Broadening? There’s nothing wrong with Nevada’s tax base, the problem is with Nevada’s spending. As I stated before, you cannot tax your way out of debt.
• How would you propose resolving Nevada’s predicted budget deficits? You have promised to not raise taxes. How do you propose to balance the budget without additional revenue?
I thought long and hard before signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge; fully aware of what the situation will be when I arrive in Carson City. That’s a commitment I made because it’s what I wholeheartedly believe is right and I will remain steadfast to that pledge. With talk of reissuing the Sunset Tax, a corporate income tax and numerous other taxes, it is undeniable that “taxing” will be the number one proposal for alleviating the budgetary crisis. I disagree 100% with that approach. We have a spending problem and we need fearless leaders to stand up in Carson City and propose cuts. It’s easy for politicians to take the path of least resistance when they’re amongst politicians, but eventually you have to pack your bags, come home, look your constituents in the eye and answer to the people who are footing the bill.
• The Missouri Plan for electing judges will be presented to Nevada voters in 2010. What is your position on the election/appointment of judges?
I believe that judgeships need to remain elected positions. The Missouri Plan takes the power of electing judges from the people and places it in the hands of lawyers on the commission and ultimately the Governor. The assumption here is that people are not smart enough to elect their own judges but I do not agree. As far as I’m concerned there is too much potential for corruption in this process. Not to mention a huge conflict of interest if these judges preside over cases argued by lawyers who appointed them. Judges work for the people and that’s who should elect them.
• Is there an issue you would like to expound upon that I did not address? Go for it…………
Born and raised in Nevada, I have seen Las Vegas transform and grow in a way that few have witnessed, establishing not only a unique history but more importantly, an incredible vision for the future. To me, Nevada has always been a place where, with good old fashioned hard work and unwavering resolve, you have the potential to turn your goals into reality. Growing up, watching my family’s success, I never questioned that I could achieve whatever I set out to do and that is the legacy I want to pass on to my children. I believe that with the right leadership Nevada can, once again, be that place. Leadership that knows what it takes to balance a tight budget, build and run a prosperous business and raise the next generation of American Patriots. Nevada needs a little bit of Black Magic!