(Nancy Dallas) – Timothy Williams is running for the District 5 Assembly seat, currently held by Democrat Marilyn Dondero Loop. You can learn more about Timothy’s political views and background at www.timwilliamsfornevada.com
• Have you run for elective office prior to this race? Why did you decide to run for the Assembly and why you feel qualified to do so?
I have run for elected office before, but the reasons I decided to run this time are much broader in scope. The voters have made it very clear that they expect legislative priorities to focus on jobs and the economy. Those issues continue to be buried by arguments about government protectionism, budget shortfalls, and raising taxes. As long as the government continues to focus on government, voters will continue to lose faith in their representatives. I want to change that.
I am grateful that combined experiences as a lifelong Las Vegas citizen and native Nevadan, journeyman, business owner, community leader, and family man allow me to relate to many different people with different viewpoints. Having personally faced adversities, I know we can overcome these temporary setbacks and help Nevada become a state that everybody is proud of.
• Do you have a campaign team and ‘game plan’ in place? How much money will be needed to run a competitive race and do you have the necessary funding?
I do have a campaign team led by Nathan Emens at Synchronous Ink to help chart the direction, crunch the numbers, raise money, and guide us to victory in November. I am also working with Copywrite, Ink. to help with communication. Where the campaign is especially strong is in connecting with voters one on one. I’ve personally walked the district to talk to voters once, and have already revisited many of them for a second time. This really is a grassroots campaign, fueled by residents who look back over the last two years and wonder what happened to all those promises that things were going to get better. Voters know they haven’t.
• What are the demographics of your district? What do you perceive to be the most important issues facing this district and how do you intend to address them if elected?
The people in my district are hardworking, honest people who have experienced about a 20 percent drop in home valuations in the last year alone. Many, about my age, are struggling with modest household incomes. Area seniors have been hit hard too. After hearing so many personal stories from the people I’ve talked to, it’s clear that our priority needs to be creating jobs, protecting taxpayers, and supporting education as a means to attract employers; but more than all that, representatives need to represent the people who elect them.
• Improving public school Education is a priority on most candidates list of issues. How would you address improving the poor performance of our public schools?
When you look at test scores in Nevada, it’s very clear that something is not working and increasing the education budget isn’t necessarily the answer. My children are home schooled and outperform the public school system on comparable tests so I cannot speak from personal experience. But what I can do is share what parents and teachers are telling me. There is so much emphasis on following a “system” and rewarding children and teachers for adhering to the system, that we’ve forgotten to teach the most important lesson of all — that children need to develop a lifelong love for learning.
• Do you support schools of choice, charter schools, school vouchers? To what degree should the state financially support such efforts?
As I mentioned, my wife and I made the decision to home school our children. The decision was easier for us, I suppose, because I was also home schooled. So yes, I believe that parents know what is best for their children and parents can make better decisions. In terms of financially supporting such efforts, it really depends on how much the state can afford in the short term. Right now, it seems to me that we need to find a better approach that empowers our children without continually increasing budgets that legislatures have no control over. The challenge for the school district right now is to let teachers teach, with the investments we make being delivered to the classrooms and teachers.
• Do you think Nevada provides adequate vocational education at the high school and post-high school levels? If not, what else could be done?
There has been considerable discussion about the need to offer more vocational education at high school. Given my career path led to becoming a journeyman, it makes sense to support such efforts. However, in balancing out our educational priorities, we might ask a few questions. Will vocational schools increase our ability to diversify our economy? And will vocational education augment or detract from what students need to learn? If we can develop a strong vocational program that diversifies our economy and augments education after the school district can demonstrate better performance, then it absolutely needs to be looked at.
• Many of the tax and fee increases imposed by the 2009 Legislature are due to sunset in 2011. Will you vote to uphold this sunset clause on those designated by the 2009 legislature to sunset?
In times of economic hardship, the state needs to re-evaluate spending just as taxpayers do. I will uphold the sunset clauses.
• With an estimated $2 Billion revenue shortfall projected by 2011, how would you propose to meet projected revenue shortfalls?
When legislators vote for big budgets, I sometimes wonder if they appreciate what they are buying with taxpayer money. Sure, every year people toss out extreme examples of pork spending and salaries that elicit an emotional reaction, but I’d like to see our state approach the budget shortfall like we would in a household or like some city municipalities have done. We need to audit where the money is being spent and then make recommendations where the budget priorities ought to be. Isn’t that what you or I would do if we took a pay cut? We wouldn’t slash everything by 10 percent. We’d prioritize by cutting off a subscription or mowing our own lawn or reducing how many miles we drive in a week. I think we need to exhaust every possible means to deliver on critical services without increasing spending or assuming citizens have deep pockets. Foreclosure rates alone will tell you that they do not.
• Do you support Nevada’s ‘Right to Work’ law? Do you believe state workers should be allowed to unionize?
I do believe in Nevada’s “Right to Work” law. During an economic downturn, it is imperative that we allow job creation and that includes allowing citizens to work for employers that are willing to hire them without interference from a union. However, I might add that I come from a union family. My father’s construction company was a union contractor and I was a union journeyman. I think we get very caught up in saying that all unions are good or bad. That depends on the union. When it comes to state workers, it seems to me that many already receive some of the best compensation packages available. So it makes me wonder what the motivation is to unionize if they aren’t already represented. I would hope that it isn’t so they can get more at the expense of others.
• What existing regulations/taxes affecting businesses would you attempt to change? What new proposals would you support to help lure additional businesses to Nevada?
Some businesses are attracted to Nevada because of our tax structure. What is holding many businesses back is our lack of an infrastructure such as better schools, better educated workers, and more family-oriented destinations, activities, and cultural assets. I’ve been told on more than one occasion that the existing regulations and taxes don’t prevent employers from moving to Nevada. It’s because they don’t want to raise their families here. We need to work on changing that stigma. If you improve these areas, then businesses will follow.
• What measures do you think are needed to strengthen Nevada’s child protective laws?
In my mind, child protective laws can never be strong enough. Tougher penalties on offenders and severe punishments do much more than deter criminal behavior. They take people who would otherwise hurt children and put them in a place where they cannot hurt children. We cannot treat criminal offenses against children as if those offenses are a mistake. A mistake is something you do unintentionally. Offenses against children aren’t unintentional. They are willful.
• To what degree do you believe the state should support the funding of local fire and police needs?
All government employees must receive a fair and equitable pay, without question. Where our state, and some cities, have run into trouble is that budgets are voted for but not always properly appropriated. It seems to me that local officials are better equipped to ensure accountability than the state, but I would be interested to learn in what way local fire and police feel the state might improve these critical services.
• Changes made by the 2009 Legislature prohibit newly hired firefighters and police from ‘spiking’ their retirement benefits with overtime pay boosts to their base salaries; however, current employees are exempt (‘grandfathered in’) from this. In consideration of the debt burden being carried by PERS, do you think additional steps should be taken in regards to public safety employees?
I’m not entirely sure if this is a problem or a symptom of a greater problem. I also have a difficult time understanding why anyone entrusted to protect and serve the public would feel there is a need to spike their retirement benefits. But to answer this question, let me share my thinking on how we can improve government. First, we have to ask why there is so much overtime and is overtime cost effective compared with hiring more police officers and firefighters. Second, we have to determine if the base benefits are adequate and why some public servants feel a need to spike them. Third, we need to assess whether base salaries are appropriate at every level so officers and firefighters do not feel a need to rack up as much overtime as possible.
• What is your position on Initiative Petitions? Should the process be more strictly governed? Or not? Should those petitions advocating a measure that would cause a tax or fee increase be required to pass under stricter guidelines than a simple majority?
The state must not create a barrier between the citizens and their right to effect change in the government. The government belongs to the people. Often times, these petitions are created because some citizens do not feel the issue has been appropriately represented. And sometimes, legislators start initiatives because while the people support an idea, politics blocks those ideas from moving forward.
• What is your position in regards to the state spending $500,000 to fund an independent tax study of the State’s tax structure?
If this study is designed to find ways to increase taxes, then it is a waste of money. The money would have been better invested on an independent audit that ascertains how the state is spending the money it already receives. You see, what troubles me when it comes to taxes is pretty simple. Government tends to raise long-term taxes on short-term economic downturns. Governments also tend to raise long-term taxes on short-term economic prosperity so it can expand because people can afford it. So when does anybody think about reducing taxes?
• The Missouri Plan for appointing judges will come before the voters for final passage in 2010. Do you support this system, as opposed to the current system of electing judges?
I am extremely concerned that the Missouri Plan leaves significant room for politicizing the appointment of judges. I know our current system is far from perfect and voters do not always educate themselves enough about various judicial candidates. However, we have to be very careful against falling into the trap of allowing politicians and lawyers to elect their peers behind closed doors and cutting the public out of the process.
• Is there some issue you would like to expound upon that I have not addressed? Go for it….
There are dozens of studies that suggest employees like to receive information from their employers. I’ve always been one to believe that citizens like to discuss federal and state issues with their state assembly or senate representative. And from what I learned walking door to door is that they do not. For example, more than 60 percent of Nevadans are against the federal health care bill but very few state assembly or senate representatives opined their position on it. Sure, I know state legislators focus on state laws but when you have a bill that affects the state, you would think state legislators would have been more visible on the issue if for no other reason than to make their federal representatives even more aware of how different districts feel.