2012 PRIMARY ELECTION: STATE SENATE 6

Two Democrats will square off in the primary race for state Senate District 6 after incumbent Allison Copening opted not to run for a second term.

The winner of the primary race between Benny Yerushalmi and Thomas Welsh will face Republican Mark Hutchinson in the Nov. 6 general election.

Yerushalmi is taking his second crack at a Senate seat after a turbulent run for District 10 against Elizabeth Halseth two years ago. He and his wife have since had a baby and decided to move closer to their families. That is how he found himself in District 6.

Yerushalmi, who was born and raised in Las Vegas , said he decided to return to the political arena because important issues face Nevada.

Yerushalmi emphasized the need to diversify the economy. He said that challenge has become more important after the recession taught residents that the state can’t lean solely on tourism and gaming. He said Nevada is ripe for new lines of employment such as the health and science industries and the alternative energy field.

"These are changes that should have been made in the state of Nevada a long time ago, and it still hasn’t been done," Yerushalmi said. "We’re at a critical point where these things have to be done right now."

Keeping with that theme, Yerushalmi said adjusting the education system to ensure those new industries have homegrown employees and leaders is equally important. If the state attracts a handful of large businesses, the school system – from kindergarten though higher education – can teach students the trade.

"We need to make sure we are preparing our children for our future industry," Yerushalmi said. "We need to be educating and preparing for the workforce of the future."

Yerushalmi has grown frustrated with the politics in Carson City, noting that at a time when the state tops unemployment and foreclosure lists, lawmakers should toss aside political differences.

"It’s essential for our leaders to work together and compromise," he said. "We need to be finding solutions instead of playing politics."

Welsh, who has lived in Southern Nevada for 27 years, is also taking another shot at state office after losing a bid for the Assembly in the late 1990s.

"I just thought it was time to jump in; I don’t like the things going on," he said. "People won’t have common sense anymore. They don’t talk to one another. It’s always ‘my way or the highway.’ "

Welsh also believes the state’s school system must change to accommodate the evolving business environment.

"If you want good jobs in Nevada, you have to educate the kids so the companies want to come here," Welsh said.

Turning the economy around and helping homeowners avoid foreclosures are priorities, Welsh said, and he plans to join that discussion should he reach Carson City.

Welsh also strongly believes in assistance for veterans and women’s rights.

Contact reporter Adrienne Packer at apacker@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2904.

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