Education, taxes polarize Assembly District 4 candidates

A pair each of Republicans and Democrats are vying for the Assembly District 4 seat, with Republican incumbent Michele Fiore making her first bid for re-election.

Registration in the district 4 in the northwest Las Vegas Valley has been evenly divided for the most part between Democrats and Republicans with other parties accounting for a small fraction of voters.

In the Republican primary, both candidates oppose taxes, while the two Democrats list improving education among their priorities.

“The only tax I like is one that’s going away,” said Republican candidate Melissa D. Laughter, who is running for office for the first time.

“American people have been taxed enough,” Laughter said. “We’ve been hurting since the recession. So when we’re already in a wounded state, to add more burden, whether it’s taking nickels or dimes out of Nevadans’ pockets, it hurts. Right now is not the time to tax.”

Fiore said she also doesn’t favor increasing or extending taxes.

“The scariest thing about temporary taxes is they are not temporary,” she said, noting that so-called sunset taxes are “a perfect example” because they are often kept in place to generate revenue for government.

As for a business margins tax to support education, Fiore contends it is “not about education. It is a facade using children and puppies as lures.”

She believes the key to improving education is to allow parents to choose the schools their children attend to create self-improving competition among public schools.

Laughter said programs that involve parents in achieving higher educational standards will improve schools, as will bringing in “highly qualified veterans, men and women who have the greatest training in the military and impart that training back down to our kids.”

That’s where Democrat Jeff Hinton, who is Nevada’s 2014 Teacher of the Year, leads by example.

Making his first bid for elected office, Hinton said he has dedicated his life to service, first as a Marine and now as an 11th-grade history teacher at a magnet school, Northwest Career and Technical Academy.

“I came into this profession not for money and glory but to make a change and make a difference,” he said.

Hinton threw his hat in the ring in hopes that his military and teaching experience can help lift Nevada schools out of their low-achievement ranking.

The key to success is producing “more passionate, enthusiastic teachers” through positive reinforcement,” he said.

“You are not going to get the best and the brightest if they get kicked in the teeth.

“Is it just money? No, it’s not just money. Educators come into the profession because we love kids first and foremost. There’s that element of giving back to society. We have a sense of higher calling.”

Hinton believes teachers can be more effective if they have flexibility and can work with children, parents and administrators toward the goal of improving education.

“We know our students better than anyone else. We want to be able to make decisions that are going to affect the classroom,” he said.

As for taxation, Hinton said he will reserve comment until seeing what measures are on the table. In general, he said, “We need to broaden the tax base for essential services, in my opinion.”

John-Nicholas W. White, who declined a telephone interview, has lived in Las Vegas for nine years and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from UNLV, according to his campaign website.

When White looks at Las Vegas, he doesn’t see a place just for tourists to come and gamble. Instead, with Nevada’s poor quality education ranking, recent housing crisis and high unemployment rates, White “sees the opportunity for higher quality education, more accessible housing, and the opportunity to create more jobs within the district,” according to his website.

Contact Keith Rogers at or 702-383-0308. Find him on Twitter: @KeithRogers2.

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