The Republican primary for state Senate District 2 offers voters three candidates seeking to replace longtime Democratic Sen. Moises Denis, who is term-limited.
Leo Henderson is running on a family values platform that emphasizes school choice, increased support of law enforcement, elections transparency and bipartisanship across party lines to help people.
”Regardless of what affiliation you are, Republican, Democrat, independent, we have differences of opinion,” Henderson said. “We have to agree to disagree and respect that person’s opinion. We really have to stop the division….We are all Americans.”
Henderson works as a bus driver for the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada. He said if elected he will pursue what he calls “educational freedom” for families in east Las Vegas.
“Education freedom is allowing parents to have a choice of where their children go to school,” Henderson said. “Our constituents are under-represented. Our main goal is to see that our education system is based on choice and gives families more freedom to send their children to better schools.”
Henderson said he believes elections should go back to paper ballot counting for the purposes of transparency. He’s also in favor of increased resources for public safety to make east Las Vegas a safer place to live.
“I’m a very simple man,” Henderson said. “I come from a very conservative family. We have values that we want to keep and continue. Traditional family values. I also believe in transparency in everything you do in life and that we treat everybody with respect and listen to other people.”
Fighting for parents’ rights
David Gomez is a grassroots advocate, community organizer and businessman who founded the Nevada Peace Alliance, which focuses on empowering parents who have kids in school.
“I was pushing back against the grain with parents not being allowed in schools, and (schools) always pushing back on parents and not allowing them to arbitrate for their child,” Gomez said of the alliance.
Gomez also has been deeply involved with the West Side Action Alliance Korp, which aims to fight civil injustices in the Las Vegas Valley.
“I wanted to show the community that people can get involved,” Gomez said. “People can fight and push back when things are not right with their children … as well as community issues. Police engagement. Racial tension.”
Gomez said there is a high transient rate in the east Las Vegas district with many suffering through issues with immigration, fear of being deported and poverty.
“In all the years I’ve been here … no one has really helped or walked around or talked to any of these constituents,” Gomez said. “They aren’t engaged with them personally other than to say, ‘I’m a senator or I’m an assemblyman,’ or ‘I’m the mayor or governor.’ What we need is someone who says, ‘What can I do for you? How can I make your life better?’”
Gomez said he wants to dedicate more resources and time to combat homelessness in the district by providing more funding for mental health treatment and shelter. He said he envisions an immigration assistance center in the district that will build up trust between the government and residents. He also wants to work with police and the community to address gang violence.
“The gang violence is tremendously high, shootings are high,” Gomez said. “Things are running rampant with the problems that we have. Nobody is really standing up. They are just throwing money at problems. It doesn’t help a person unless you grab them by the hand and say, ‘Let’s go.’”
Peter Pellegrino is the owner of the small business Blind Spot Las Vegas, which offers custom window and door treatments to customers. He said he wants to greatly reduce the tax burdens on small businesses. As a legislator, he would also enhance school choice while implementing education reform that addresses what he views as objectionable content taught to students.
“I see all of this stuff going on with what they are trying to teach our kids and that doesn’t make sense to me … teaching these kids about sex at such a young age doesn’t make sense to me,” Pellegrino said. “I’m also concerned about any attempts to make this city a sanctuary city. It bothers me.”
Pellegrino said the district has a serious problem with homelessness and it needs to be addressed.
“We need to help them out in some way and get them shelter – something to help them along,” Pellegrino said. “It sure doesn’t look good when you are driving down the street and you have the homeless all over the place. It doesn’t always feel safe.”
Pellegrino believes legislators need to do more to support the police.
“I don’t buy into that whole defunding the police thing obviously,” Pellegrino said. “In heavily Democratic-run cities it’s proven to be a very poor choice.”