When Ellen Lessinger walked into a candidate forum at the Temple Beth Sholom on Tuesday, she was undecided about the Nevada Senate race that’s being watched across the country.
But after hearing from Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen, who’s challenging Republican U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, Lessinger made her decision.
“Jacky Rosen has my vote,” said Lessinger, 72, a Republican who’s lived in Nevada since 1980. “She is invested in Las Vegas, and she wants to see the city grow.”
Rosen was one of four top-ticket candidates to speak and answer questions at the Jewish temple in Las Vegas. She was joined by Democrat Susie Lee and Republican Danny Tarkanian — both vying to replace her in Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District — and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Sisolak.
Rosen said she’s had 50 pieces of legislation pass through the House, including a bill to ensure veterans’ education benefits never expire. Rosen said the decisions that Washington politicians make have a lasting effect on people they’ve never met.
Asked about how small businesses might be affected by raising federal minimum wage — a measure Rosen supports — she said it needs to be done gradually, so businesses can absorb it.
”If you work a full-time job, you should be able to live with dignity and to pay your rent and take care of your family,” Rosen said.
The congresswoman also said she supports shoring up election security to prevent hacking and protecting Medicare and Social Security funding.
Lee told attendees that she was one of eight children in her family and put herself through college. When asked to name issues that she’d work with Republicans on, Lee said education and infrastructure. Lee has spearheaded after-school programs to help at-risk students graduate high school.
Asked about President Donald Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, Lee said Trump was implementing the will of Congress. She took a stand against storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain.
“It’s not a matter of if — it’s a matter of when — there will be an accident with transporting waste,” Lee said.
Tarkanian, her Republican opponent, was asked about gun control and said he does not support repealing the Second Amendment. But he supports background checks for all gun sales, including at gun shows, and banning bump stocks.
He told the crowd he would not support U.S. involvement in Syria’s civil war.
“I don’t think the U.S. should be entering wars overseas unless there is a serious imminent threat to our national security,” Tarkanian said.
Tarkanian said he supports Trump’s border wall and beefing up border security. But, he added, he will not vote with Trump on every issue and doesn’t agree with everything the president says or tweets.
Sisolak, who is running for governor against Republican Adam Laxalt, said his top issues are education, health care and jobs. He said school teachers should not have to pay for supplies and food for students out of their own pockets.
Sisolak also said the state must invest in mental health care and fight to maintain coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. He stressed that he would not raise taxes, an accusation lobbed by Laxalt.
“People can make up these stories and spread it out there, but we have no intention of increasing property taxes or any other taxes to balance our budget,” Sisolak said.
On education, Sisolak said he supports redoing a funding formula by giving priority to underfunded schools and those with students who have disabilities or don’t speak fluent English.