(Sean Whaley/Nevada News Bureau) – Democratic state Senate candidate Kelli Ross said today that she is the “union” candidate in the District 18 race in Las Vegas, while Republican Scott Hammond said he will listen to but not vote in lockstep with labor in the Legislature.
The two candidates in the newly created Senate seat in northwest Las Vegas debated on Jon Ralston’s Face to Face television program. The Senate contest is one of five viewed by both parties as critical to controlling the 21-member house in the 2013 legislative session.
Democrats now have an 11-10 edge in the Senate.
During the debate, Hammond, currently a member of the Assembly, said he would seek to reform Nevada’s prevailing wage law so that public construction projects could be built more cost effectively and generate more jobs. Paying less would stretch public construction dollars further, he said.
He pointed to the Phoenix, Ariz., area, where prevailing wage rates are $14 an hour compared to $42 an hour in Nevada.
“I think we need to reform that, look at putting it back on to something that is the standard market, and I think we’re going to see significant savings there,” Hammond said.
Ross said she would oppose any move to reduce the prevailing wage, a wage set for construction workers hired for state and local government projects. The prevailing wage guarantees a qualified workforce, she said.
“Not only would it not save money it would even hurt the middle class that much more,” Ross said. “When you’re paying a prevailing wage you’re guaranteeing that you’re going to get a job done, get a job done on time and get the job done right.”