Voters will choose between a teacher, an arborist, a nonprofit program coordinator and a community relations professional for the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada in the June 9 Democratic primary for Assembly District 18.
One of them will face Republican Heather Florian in the November general election.
The open seat, currently held by Democrat Richard Carrillo, covers a portion of the eastern Las Vegas Valley. Carrillo, who was first elected in 2010, is making a run for Senate District 7.
Clarence Dortch, 36, is a sixth-grade science teacher in the eastern Las Vegas Valley who said he decided to run for the seat to improve education.
Dortch said he wants to make funding for schools more transparent.
“A lot of schools get Title 1 funds and all these things, but we really don’t know what some of these schools are using these funds for,” he said.
Dortch did not say what he would cut from the budget in the face of the coronavirus crisis.
“It’s something that I’m still thinking about and I haven’t come to the conclusion yet,” he said.
He said his experience working for the public has set him apart from others in the field. Before becoming a teacher, Dortch worked a corrections officer with the prison system in Nevada.
“I know what our community, what our people, what we need at the ground level, at the local level because I lived it, I work it, I breathe it every day,” he said.
Lisa Ortega, 55, has long wanted to run for office. Before putting her name on the ballot, however, she wanted to first meet professional goals and put herself in the financial position to run.
Ortega, a master arborist who runs her own business, said she wants Nevada to do better with the environment.
“I’d really like to incentivize businesses to hire within their ZIP codes, their surrounding ZIP codes,” she said. Ortega said that, in turn, could help the environment by reducing congestion.
During her interview, Ortega said she was not sure whether any government programs or departments that could withstand cuts, but she wants to collaborate with experienced lawmakers to dig into the budget.
“I look forward to figuring it out,” she said.
Char Frost, 50, said she is running because public service is important to her and she wants to be an active participant in her community. To her, it’s a way of giving back.
“We have a lot of challenges and issues in this district and I understand them very well because I’m challenged with those same issues every day,” she said. She is now program coordinator for Nevada PEP, a nonprofit that helps families with children who have disabilities.
Frost, a former campaign manager and legislative staffer for Carrillo, said she wants to see increased access not just to physical health, but to mental health services regardless of socio-economic status.
“If I could just make it a tiny bit better for residents of this state to get what they need in the time that they need it, then I’d feel like I did a good thing,” she said.
Frost said the Legislature would need to be “thoughtful” in its approach to addressing the fiscal impact of the coronavirus crisis, and that cutting anything from the Department of Health and Human Services seemed “crazy” to her in the midst of a pandemic.
One of her biggest concerns is protecting education from cuts, she said.
Venicia Considine, 50, said her experience of creating a path to success gives her the perspective, and she is running to bring opportunities back to Las Vegas.
She said home ownership is out of reach for many, so she wants to find affordable housing solutions.
Considine is a graduate of UNLV’s William S. Boyd School of Law. She holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in American western history, both from UNLV, she said.
Considine, director of development and community relations for the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, said she does not know what to cut from the budget to respond to the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis.
She sees her biggest role as protecting programs from cuts, specifically education.
“I honestly don’t know the best way to get people back to work. But I do know, there are people who are really, really good at this and you know, they understand a lot more of the economy than than I do as a historian and a lawyer,” she said.