Las Vegas Sun

November 26, 2015

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Sun Editorial:

A vision for Nevada: Someplace to return to

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The Great Recession created a new reality in Nevada. The sure bets of the past few decades, like the hot housing market, turned sour, and the vast expansion of the economy through gaming and construction came to a stop.

As a result, many people saw their savings and investments evaporate. And Nevada, which has always had a transient nature, saw the dynamics change; its population actually decreased after years of it being the fastest-growing state in the nation. Some people who wanted to stay in Nevada were forced to look elsewhere for work; others who wanted to move found themselves essentially stranded in mortgages that were far underwater.

And the recession painfully revealed the endemic problems challenging the state — a school system that ranks among the worst in the nation, a social safety net that is overwhelmed and an economy badly in need of diversification.

We have seen people’s political positions change over the past few years as they consider this new reality. Now, as voters evaluate candidates, they’ll have to decide who best represents their vision and values.

That can be difficult in an election season; campaigns boil down complex issues into sound bytes, attack ads and pithy statements. What they don’t always do is offer a real vision or solid plans.

When we interview candidates for office, we like hearing their vision. We might ask a candidate to describe what Nevada should be like in 10 or 20 years.

The most memorable answer to that question this year came from Aaron Ford, a candidate for state Senate in District 11. He said no one had asked him that question before, and he leaned back and thought about it. Then he said, “A place where my son wants to come back to, and offers more than mommy and daddy.”

His succinct comment stopped us for a moment because it was free of the political rhetoric and hit home. His son goes to college in another state, and Ford wants to see him return and be able to find work and start a family here. His comment spurred a discussion about policy and how the state could find ways to broaden the economy, improve education and provide opportunity so that Nevada would be a place where future generations could thrive.

Despite all of the political ads and fighting over issues, isn’t that what this election should really come down to, creating a place where people want to live? Shouldn’t we all want a state where our children and grandchildren can grow up in safe neighborhoods, go to quality schools and find good-paying jobs?

Of course, the difficulty is in getting there. There are plenty of difficulties. Added to that, national politics — and Nevada’s to a lesser extent — have been mired in the ideological struggles pushed by the extremes. In some eyes, government is an evil that needs to be fought; in others, it is the solution to all that ails society.

Lost in that fight, which hasn’t been helpful, is the reality that most people aren’t on either extreme. People understand the need for government and believe it has a role in society, and they don’t mind paying for good services, including schools, police, fire, parks, libraries and roads.

Above all, people want a good quality of life and they want to be proud of the place they call home. And, we believe, they want elected officials who can commit to that vision.

We’re looking forward to this election and to leaders who are willing and able to move Nevada forward.

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