Both candidates in the race for Assembly District 23 agree that education is a top priority.
Republican Melissa Woodbury, a two-term incumbent, has lost some advantage because of redistricting. The former District 23 was primarily a section of east Henderson and a portion of Boulder City. The redrawn lines have shifted to include less of east Henderson, but expanded to include portions of Sun City Summerlin, Anthem and the entire southern tip of the county to Laughlin and beyond.
Woodbury has taught in Clark County for 18 years, spending about half that time in special education, working with autistic children.
"I've helped pass several pieces of legislation that deal with autism," Woodbury said. "They've included consolidating programs to make them run more efficiently."
Woodbury was on the Assembly's education committee and is pleased that the state has begun to implement common core standards in education.
"We need to be comparing apples to apples," she said. "Standards need to be taught the same so we're studying for the same type of test. It should still be a decision made at the state level, but more states are coming on board."
Challenger Michael Joe is a former telecommunications entrepreneur with degrees in law and finance . He now works as an attorney specializing in foreclosure issues at the Legal Aid Center of Nevada.
"I like to say I'm the foreclosure expert in the foreclosure capital of the world," he said.
Joe's interest in education is personal and economic. He has a 2-year-old daughter whose education he is contemplating, and a belief that some of the state's unemployment issues stem from an undereducated workforce.
"I'm a pro-business Democrat," he said. "I have a financial background and a management background. I understand business. I've started a business. I've made payroll."
Joe feels more resources should be allocated to education as a means to solving what he feels is a larger problem.
"Given the foreclosure crisis and the unemployment rates in Nevada, I think the No. 1 priority is jobs and business and bringing back the economy."
He feels one undertapped resource for state funding is the mining industry.
"I think mining's kind of had a free ride here," Joe said. "It's not like they're going to go mining in New York City."
Woodbury doesn't believe the immediate answer lies in more taxes.
"We still need to keep taxes low, because I believe business drives the economy," she said. "As businesses grow and families have more of their own income to spend, the economy will pick back up and we'll be able to fund our services better in the long run."
Woodbury, daughter of longtime local politician Bruce Woodbury, has no intention of becoming a career politician and believes Nevada's part-time Legislature better serves the community.
"I think it's a good thing that we're not up there all the time," she said. "Most of us have jobs, and that keep us grounded. I think I bring a common sense approach and look at the issues as a regular person."
Contact Sunrise/Whitney View reporter F. Andrew Taylor at email@example.com or 380-4532.