Las Vegas Sun

October 24, 2014

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EDITORIAL:

This election year, candidates need to take a stand

This editorial was first published in the March 23 issue of The Sunday.

Candidates love to use buzzwords and empty phrases that help them avoid the real issues. And they do a great job avoiding the issues. Enough is enough. People need help solving problems, not just kicking them down the road. Nevada needs a strong campaign of ideas, and voters need to know where candidates stand. We’ve put together some of the key issues that we’ll use as a starting point as we evaluate candidates this year. We’ve included our views, as well.

K-12 EDUCATION

A quality education system underpins society and a successful economy, and it’s no secret that Nevada’s schools struggle. So how do we improve? The debate has boiled down to either-or positions over money.

Our view: The state badly underfunds education, but money alone won’t solve the problem. New money needs to be strategically coupled with common-sense reforms.

WATER

This is crucial for the future of Southern Nevada, especially with the worsening drought. This is a difficult subject because the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s plans to build a multibillion-dollar pipeline to rural Nevada have drawn a strong protest.

Our view: We need water to continue to provide for the community and to fuel the economy, and the pipeline appears to be part of the answer.

ECONOMY

Everybody wants to talk about creating jobs, but talk isn’t the same as action. The state has ramped up efforts to recruit industries and businesses with a mix of tax breaks and incentives. Critics say Nevada struggles because of poor schools and quality of life.

Our view: The lure of low taxes hasn’t worked for nearly a century, and Nevada needs to diversify the economy through better schools, universities and incentives where appropriate.

PUBLIC SAFETY

Crime rates are rising, and although voters have approved a plan to increase sales taxes to pay for more police officers, the County Commission refused to do it. That came after the Legislature punted on the plan, as well.

Our view: The community and the Strip (the heart of our economy) need more police to fight crime. The politicians need to grow some guts: If it takes raising taxes, do it.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Nevada’s colleges and universities have some good programs, but overall, they’ve never been seen as stellar institutions. An elected board of regents sets policy, but the governor and Legislature approve the budget, making the politics tricky.

Our view: Colleges and universities can be a great benefit to the state and the economy, and ours need more money to spur better academics, research and partnerships with business.

POLITICS

Candidates too often dodge questions and blame their opponents instead of engaging in real debate and discussion. The nastiness of national politics unfortunately has set the tone for elections top to bottom.

Our view: It’s understandable that candidates try to dodge questions; they’re often punished for being honest and candid. We’d like to see that change. We respect candidates we disagree with if they’re honest (and polite).

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