Democratic congressional candidate Susie Lee thinks the minimum wage should be $15 an hour — eventually.
Immigration, education and wages were among issues Lee and Democratic candidate for governor Steve Sisolak stumped on Wednesday morning at a Hispanics in Politics breakfast.
“Education is one of my top priorities because I believe it is a great equalizer,” Sisolak said. “Everyone should have the opportunity for better school regardless of their ZIP code or bank account.”
According to a recent Reno Gazette Journal/Suffolk University poll, education ranked as the top issue for voters when they are picking governor. Though he didn’t reference any specific policy plans, Sisolak acknowledged the need to reduce class sizes, increase teacher pay and expand opportunities for vocational training in schools.
“We need to teach kids if you learn to be a plumber or carpenter, that’s a skill you can use for the rest of your life,” Sisolak said. “You can make good money and support yourself and your family.”
Lee, who boasted of her work with education as a board member of Communities in Schools, referenced the achievement gap among minorities and efforts to provide more funding to address those.
She added there needs to be improvements in higher education from the amount of debt accumulated by students to the lack of opportunities in higher education for people of color.
“One in 10 Latino adults (in Nevada) has a bachelor’s degree,” she says. “We need to improve this. This needs to start with our higher education program.”
Healthcare, the economy and immigration were also briefly discussed during the hourlong event.
Sisolak said he supported DREAMers and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. “We are ripping families apart,” he said. “This is something I cannot understand or support. We need to unite families instead of separating them.”
Other top issues for Sisolak included renewable energy and diversifying the economy.
“Renewable energy can do several things,” he said. “It’s a commodity we can export. It creates a tremendous amount of job opportunities. We can get our universities involved in research relating to renewable energy. It’s a win-win-win.”
Audience members asked Lee about a variety of topics, including increasing access to health care and raising the minimum wage. “I believe it should be $15,” she said of the latter. “I know we have to have a phased-in approach. We have to have a way that we are not putting small businesses out of business.”
Lee stressed the importance being bipartisan if elected. She wouldn’t say if she would support U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi for speaker of the house. “Let’s not put the cart ahead of the horse,” she said.
Fernando Romero with Hispanics in Politics said he invited other candidates, including Sisolak’s opponent, current Attorney General Adam Laxalt, and Lee’s opponent, Danny Tarkanian. He said he didn’t hear back from the Laxalt campaign.
“We have invited Danny Tarkanian to our meeting,” Romero told the crowd of about 40 people. “Danny told me — and I have to admire him for his brashness — that he didn’t want to speak to Hispanic In Politics.”
Richard Hernandez, a spokesman for the Tarkanian campaign, told the Current that is inaccurate. “(Tarkanian) wasn’t even aware of the event and wasn’t invited to speak,” he said. “He has been invited to speak at many venues and doesn’t turn away any opportunity.”
Hispanics in Politics has endorsed both Republican and Democratic candidates in recent election cycles.
The audience also heard from Rob Telles, Democratic candidate for Clark County public administrator, and Jimmy Vega, Republican candidate for North Las Vegas constable.