Political newcomers compete to challenge Amodei in 2nd Congressional District

CARSON CITY — Four Northern Nevadans with private-sector backgrounds and no political experience are competing to represent the Democratic Party in the 2nd Congressional District race in the November general election.

Republican Mark Amodei is the incumbent in the district, which covers much of Northern Nevada. The district voter registration is 43 percent GOP to 33 percent Democratic with 17 percent independents. It has always been represented by Republicans.

Reno physician Vance Alm, Gardnerville store clerk Brian Dempsey, Reno engineer Ed Lee and Incline Village attorney Kristen Spees are in the crowded June 10 primary. Also appearing on the general election ballot will be Independent American Party candidate Janine Hansen.

Alm said he decided to run after Amodei voted with the Republican majority to shut down the federal government in 2013.

“We need a true leader who will actually do the work rather than be in the pockets of everyone else,” he said. “I will vote for what is appropriate and in the best interests of the country, not the party line.”

Alm said the Affordable Care Act is not working, and he would go further by eliminating for-profit medicine.

“It has turned into a tax on those it was supposed to help,” he said of Obamacare.

Medical care could be delivered more cheaply under a nonprofit system, he said.

On the issue of immigration, Alm said the country does have to secure its borders, but it also makes sense to allow those living in the country illegally a way to earn citizenship.

Alm said he has concrete proposals to stimulate the economy, including the creation of a government service corps for young people who face high unemployment. Another idea is to create a $100 billion fund to establish a small-business startup loan program.

Dempsey said he decided to run because Amodei is only occupying a chair for the Republican Party and not paying attention to what his constituents want.

An example is immigration reform, which Dempsey said is an issue on which Amodei has shown no leadership.

“He won’t push for reform,” Dempsey said. “I support what the Senate did. It may not be perfect, but it can be amended later.

“I’m more of a collaborative person; I would prefer to sit down and compromise,” he said. “Amodei said recently that he thinks the parties are getting in the way of compromise, but he votes 96 percent of the time with his party.”

Dempsey said he supports the business margins tax proposal on the Nevada ballot in November because the current state education system is a deterrent to economic diversification. Companies don’t want to move here, he said.

He also supports the Affordable Care Act, although he acknowledges it had significant issues at launch.

“If it works, great,” he said. “If there are problems, then let’s fix them. Let’s at least try something. The GOP doesn’t want to try anything.”

Lee, who leads an engineering team for the nonprofit Internet company Mozilla, said he decided to run because Amodei appears to vote based on where his financial support is coming from rather than for his constituents. The main impetus was Amodei’s co-sponsorship of the unsuccessful Stop Online Piracy Act, which Lee said would have let media companies turn off websites over piracy issues.

Lee said the Affordable Care Act is a positive development, but the implementation has been made more complex than necessary.

On immigration, Lee said he would support beefing up the staffing needed to speed up the legal immigration process. The process now takes years and encourages illegal immigration, he said. A speedier process would reduce illegal immigration and provide those already here with a way to become legal residents, he said.

To change that, Lee is proposing a revenue sharing plan, in which taxpayers would be given the choice of what level of government should receive their tax dollars. Having the chance to direct tax revenue to the state or a local government would provide an incentive for federal agencies to be more responsive and responsible with their funding, he said.

Spees, who responded by email, said her main platform is immigration reform but that she is also a proponent of government transparency so that people can make educated decisions on the issues.

“Transparency provides information for citizens about what the government is doing, and it promotes accountability,” she said.

Spees said she also believes that as much governing as possible should be left to the states.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900. Find him on Twitter: @seanw801.

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