LAUGHLIN — Jacky Rosen, one of several candidates vying for Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District, told Laughlin Democratic Club members last week that when she’s elected she will focus on three things: quality and affordable education for all, an improved economy, and sensible energy policies.
Rosen serves as president of Congregation Ner Tamid, the largest reform congregation in Nevada with an annual budget of $2.5 million. She has no prior political experience, which may make her attractive to those voters who are flocking this election cycle to non-establishment candidates.
“I think all of life is political,” Rosen said. “I’m president of a church. Trust me, that’s political. I’ve had a lot of business experience.
“I don’t see myself as an outsider to Southern Nevada; I’m an insider,” she continued. “I’m not a politician. I’m just somebody who really cares deeply, and isn’t that what the House of Representatives is? That’s how it started. It started out to be the house of the people, regular people.
“I have a deep love for my community, and instead of a political-agenda perspective I see it from a life perspective: raising a family, being a working woman, supporting my husband in business, taking care of the parents, running a big organization.
“I feel like I didn’t want (Republican Michael) Roberson and those voices who have this big agenda and who feel very entitled to hurt the place that I love. So I decided to take the leap of faith, jump in, and give it 110 percent.”
Despite her newcomer status — or maybe because of it — Rosen has received the political blessing of Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader and Nevada’s formidable home-grown standard bearer who is retiring at the end of this year. The race for the seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Joe Heck has been pegged as a major red-to-blue effort by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
“I had the blessing and the privilege of having my parents and in-laws live nearby,” related the Henderson resident. “They were all about the same age, and together they unfortunately all aged and went through various illnesses. So when I say I can talk about health care and social security and Medicare…, I really speak from the place where I’ve been through it…. I saw the real struggles they went through.”
Rosen has a daughter in college. “She and her friends are burdened with student loans,” she said. “Whether they go to college or trade schools, it’s really difficult to get jobs. It used to be kids in high school could get jobs in the summer to help pay for things. Those jobs aren’t there anymore because senior citizens are taking them because their Social Security doesn’t pay enough.”
Rosen said about her energy policies, “In Nevada, we have a great opportunity to be a leader in research and development and renewable energy, and to create that partnership for saving the planet, saving our communities, saving on our electric bills.”
Regarding the economy Rosen said, “People who work 40 hours a week should make a living wage. They shouldn’t have to work two jobs and still not be able to afford an apartment…. When the middle class rises, everybody rises.
“What makes America really great are the opportunities we have,” she continued. “Americans want to do better and to do more, they just want the opportunities to be there for them.”
Following the presentation, audience members peppered Rosen about what she could do to improve the conditions in Laughlin. Some questioned the practice of local casinos hiring only part-time employees, presumably to escape the payment of health insurance and other benefits.
Employers taking advantage of loopholes in labor laws is a practice that is taking place all over the country, Rosen replied.
“A lot of times you have to close those loopholes and make it advantageous for them to have full-time employees,” she said. Drawing on her knowledge and experience as a systems analyst, Rosen said you have to look at different problems, review the data and invite everyone to the table “… to make the best and smartest decisions.
“I don’t know exactly what the loopholes are,” she said candidly, “but I can tell you that if you assemble a team, they can lay out for you why this is happening and what’s falling through the cracks…, then find the best way to plug them up.
“We know we have an issue of companies hiring part-time employees so they don’t have to pay for benefits, so what kind of a law lets them get away with that and what makes it worth their while to do that? And how can we change that to make better partnerships so employers can do the right thing for their employees?”
Unfortunately, but not uncommonly, Rosen was unaware that Laughlin is unincorporated and falls under the control of the Clark County Board of Commissioners. Several club members expressed their dissatisfaction with the representation received by fellow-Democrat Steve Sisolak, the town’s representation on the BCC.
“That’s where the power of your vote comes in,” replied Rosen. “All the things the federal government can do, that we can partner with at the state and county level, I’m going to fight for that, to bring those things to southern Nevada. There are state and county and federal partnerships that can work.”
Rosen will face fellow Democrats Barry Michaels, Jesse Sbaih, Alex Singer and Anthony Wernicke in the June 14 primary. Appearing on the Republican primary ballot are State Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, Assemblywoman Michele Fiore — known for her support of Cliven Bundy, Danny Tarkanian, Andy Matthews and Annette Teijeiro. Running as an independent is Steven St. John.