Both candidates for Senate District 8 say their experience working in education influences how they see the issues that plague Nevada schools.
Republican Valerie Weber said she sees issues from her classroom at the College of Southern Nevada.
“These students are not prepared to go into the workforce,” she said. “That concerns me.”
Democrat Marilyn Dondero Loop said her 30 years of teaching experience give her insight into what students need to succeed.
Both campaigns said they want to see increased school funding and higher pay for teachers.
Dondero Loop said she supports updating the funding formula and funneling recreational marijuana money to the state’s schools.
Weber’s campaign manager, Charles Gallagher, said Weber supports auditing the Clark County School District and slashing bureaucracy.
Dondero Loop said she wants to see more investment in K-12 education and more attention paid to the state’s higher education institutions.
“Anytime you have an educated society, you have a safer society,” she said. Better education also means better job opportunities, she said.
Weber has said she supports the state paying for education spending accounts and, if elected, she wants to pass legislation to create a centralized information hub for Nevada schools.
“There are ways for us to, as legislators, give students and parents options for their education so that they can start mapping out their future for great paying jobs,” she said.
Vying for a comeback
Dondero Loop and Weber are looking to make a political comeback by securing a seat in the district, which covers a portion of the western Las Vegas Valley. Both candidates have served three terms in the Assembly representing District 5 — Weber between 2002 and 2008, Dondero Loop between 2008 and 2014.
Weber lost her bid for the Clark County Commission in 2008. In 2014, Dondero Loop unsuccessfully ran against Republican-turned-Independent Patricia Farley, who is not seeking re-election.
District 8 is expected to be a tight race that could swing control of the Senate. Democrats have fewer than 700 more registered voters than Republicans, but nonpartisans make up more than 20 percent of the district. Both candidates said they are getting into neighborhoods to reach all voters, regardless of party affiliation.
Dondero Loop was criticized in a mailer for a reported 2012 campaign finance violation. She said she was advised by an attorney that reports could be filed in a certain manner according to the law, but the secretary of state disagreed.
“The minute we were told, I amended my report through honesty and full transparency,” she said.
Weber filed for bankruptcy during the recession in 2011. She said, like many Nevadans at the time, she lost her job and was unable to pay her bills.
“You learn from it; you move forward,” she said.