The College of Southern Nevada on March 16, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ronda Churchill)
The Nevada Board of Regents is a 13-member nonpartisan board that approves budgets and policies for the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE), which consists of four community colleges, two universities, one research institute and one state college. This November, there are five open seats — three districts (6, 7 and 13) in Southern Nevada and two districts (8 and 11) that embody parts of northern and rural Nevada and a sliver of Southern Nevada.
This story will focus on the candidates for Districts 6, 7 and 13. To read about Districts 8 and 11, click here.
District 6: Heather Brown v. Jeanine Dakduk
Heather Brown and Jeanine Dakduk are vying to represent District 7. The seat is currently filled by Patrick Carter, who is not running for reelection. The district covers the southernmost parts of Clark County.
The two candidates advanced to the general election by beating Karl Catarata and Brandin Manwill in the June primary. Brown received 45.1% of the votes; Dakduk received 27.1%, according to the Secretary of State election results page.
Both Brown and Dakduk say they were motivated by the lack of stability in NSHE, which has had three different chancellors in five years and oversees an annual budget north of $2 billion
“I looked at the Board of Regents and all the negative press they were getting and just the lack of decorum, the lack of ethics and the lack of stability,” Brown said. “It motivated me to want to be involved.”
“Can you imagine running a multibillion-dollar corporation and over the course of five years, your company went through three different CEOs?” Dakduk said. “Welcome to the Nevada System of Higher Education.”
Brown is president and co-founder of StartUp Vegas, a nonprofit focused on expanding the tech and startup ecosystem in the Las Vegas area. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from UNLV. Previously, she worked on political campaigns.
She says her priorities are refocusing the NSHE budget and offering majors that support students in innovative and sustainable careers.
Dakduk has a bachelor’s degree in history from Northern Illinois University and moved to Las Vegas in 2008, where she got her master’s degree in Educational Leadership at UNLV. She attributes her personal and professional successes to the mentors and opportunities she received as a student.
With experience at five different universities, including UNLV, the University of Nevada Reno and at American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) through a U.S. Department of Defense contract, Dakduk experience includes academic advisor, adjunct professor, coordinator and graduate assistant.
She plans to run for a single term and to bring stability to the board by focusing on unity within the board and avoiding infighting.
“I committed to only running one term and then passing the torch,” she said. “Six years is enough time to create meaningful change.”
Her priorities are affordability for higher education, expanding educational programs after college to align with in-demand careers with high salaries, and improving wraparound services to improve student outcomes, especially success measures like graduation rates.
Brown raised $35,636 as of June 30, according to campaign finance reports. Dakduk raised $3,500.
District 7: Susan Brager v. David Crete
Susan Brager, and David Crete, are competing to represent District 7, which covers the western region of the Las Vegas Valley, including Summerlin. The winner will replace Mark Doubrava, who is term-limited and could not run again.
In the June primary, Brager received 39.6% of votes; Crete received 21.8% beating out Aury Nagy, Hieu Le and M.J. Ivy.
Brager served 12 years on the Clark County School Board and another 12 years on the Clark County Commission, but she has been involved in the education system for much longer.
“I’ve been involved in education for about 50 years here in the state, I served in my children’s schools, I worked for the school district about 30 some years ago as a special ed aide,” she said. “I just felt like serving the community made a difference.”
Brager, who has four generations of her family in Nevada, said her main policy concerns are creating a more robust trade training program and robust partnerships with unions and encouraging students to further their education through these programs.
“It does not mean you don’t go on to that four-year degree or that law degree or [to become] a doctor or a nurse,” she said. “But at least you have the ability to start your education and that’s much more economical.”
Brager has a high school degree but did not attend college.
Crete served six years in the Air Force and has coached football in the Las Vegas Valley for 26 years at three different high schools.
“[I] dealt with those kids trying to get them to go to college, getting them accepted and some of the challenges… that the kids would run into,” he said.
One of those challenges was getting students to be scouted by Nevada colleges and universities, something he says inspired him to run for office.
His priorities include creating more career pathways for in-demand jobs to attract companies and keeping the cost of higher education low while improving the quality of higher education so that students from the state feel they can prosper here — policies that he recognizes will take time to come to fruition.
“It took more than a day to create the issues that exist and it will take more than a day to fix them,” he said.
He has a bachelor’s of science and a B.A. in Business from the University of Phoenix.
As of June 30, Brager had raised $40,700 for her campaign, according to state filings. Crete raised $4,932.
District 13: John Moran v. Stephanie Goodman
Moran, whose grandfather was a Clark County sheriff and whose father was a chair of the Nevada Gaming Commission, did not grant an interview.
In the June primary, Moran received 41.4% of votes; Goodman received 39.8%, beating out Jennifer Bandiero.
He has a bachelor’s in political science from Arizona State University and a juris doctorate from California Western School of Law.
Goodman, the former daughter-in-law of Las Vegas mayors Oscar and Carolyn Goodman, was the first woman elected student body president at UNLV.
She says her priorities are supporting free speech on campus for students, identifying emerging industries that diversify the economy, and creating programs to train and educate students for those industries.
“We’re doing great things, but I think we need to start thinking differently in an effort to diversify our economy,” she said about communicating between businesses and higher education. “For us to bring industry into our state, we need to make sure they’re invested in our state.”
Goodman owns a local advertising firm and currently serves as the executive director of Dr. Robert Hunter International Problem Gambling Center, the state’s largest dedicated treatment center for gambling addiction.
Goodman has a bachelor’s in advertising from UNLV.
“I was born and raised in Las Vegas,” she said. “I just feel like it’s very important to give back to your community. Las Vegas has been very good to me, Nevada has been very good to me and I am raising my children here and I just want them to do better.”
Moran raised $269,432 and Goodman raised $24,946.
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