Experience matters, especially when it comes time to find the restroom.
Steven Brooks learned this firsthand when he was elected to represent District 19 in the Nevada Assembly in 2010.
"When you're a freshmen, you go up there and it's so busy and there's so much going on, you'd be lucky if you get decent directions to the bathroom," he said of his Carson City debut. "Once you learn the process and you've been there for a session or two, you really start to master what it takes in order to make things happen."
Now, Brooks, a Democrat, is hoping to build upon his initial foray into public office, this time by representing District 17 in the Assembly.
He views his first term as a success, counting his work on a bill that brought three new grant writers and a grant writing office to the state as one of his biggest achievements.
"For years, we've had grant writers in particular divisions or departments, but we've never had a grant writing department geared specifically to go after federal grants," Brooks said. "I think it's going to help us, over the next four years, really mend the hole that we've had in that budget ."
Brooks, who served on the Transportation, Judiciary and Health and Human Services committees, also highlighted his support for schools.
"We protected education," said Brooks, who founded such educational organizations as the Freedom Enhancement Academy and A&S Tutorial after getting a degree in biology from the University of California, Riverside. "It was looking like it was going to be funded at a substantially lower rate this year, but we were able to continue with the taxes that we had on the books. If we want to hold our teachers and school system accountable for preparing our kids, we need to give them the resources that they need in order to do that."
Education is also a priority for Brooks' challenger, Len Marciano, a Republican who is running for office for the first time.
A retired educator who spent 37 years as a teacher and administrator, Brooks wants parents to have more choice over what schools their children attend and also seeks to alter hiring and firing practices for teachers.
"We have to stop getting rid of teachers when there are layoffs because of seniority," said Marciano, who earned a bachelor's degree in educational supervision and administration at Seton Hall before completing his postgraduate work at Rutgers. "The best teachers that we have right now have to stay in front of the classroom. It can't just be based on how many years they've been in the school system.
"We also have to start changing the curriculum as far as teaching entrepreneurial skills," he added.
Marciano, who has been involved in politics since he was a kid when he began working with his grandmother, a precinct captain in his native Scranton, Pa., said he was compelled to run for office after seeing his district deteriorate.
"We've been devastated in District 17 for a number of years as far as the job loses are concerned," he said. "We have a lot of foreclosures, a lot of homes that are vacant, our schools around here are failing. We're changing from a stable community of homeowners to a transient community of renters, which could pose a lot of problems in District 17."
As for his opponent, Marciano sees Brooks as an impediment to change.
"Mr. Brooks is the status quo," Marciano said. "He really hasn't put forth any solutions. Not only do I have solutions, but I care about the community. I don't think my opponent has that same commitment."
Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0476.