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The midterm elections are coming up on November 6, and there’s a lot at stake.
Voters will pick our next governor and state legislators, as well as our representatives in Washington.
As voting day draws near, we’ll be talking to Nevada candidates in key races.
Today we’re joined by Susie Lee, a Democrat who’s running for the U.S. House of Representatives in Congressional District 3. CD3 includes parts of Las Vegas and Henderson.
Why are you running to be the congressional representative of Congressional District 3?
“I’m a mother of two. I’ve always been an education advocate here in Nevada and a successful nonprofit leader. I grew up as part of a big working-class family and I’m running for Congress because DC as quit working for working families.”
Lee said politicians in Washington, D.C. are more interested in putting their party over the country. She also said they’re more interested in proving a point and inciting divisiveness then they are in finding solutions.
“I’ve had a career here of taking on some tough problems and bringing people together and finding solutions and actually holding myself accountable and producing results that have helped families lead better lives. And that is exactly what I intend to do in Washington.”
What are the biggest issues facing Southern Nevada?
“When I’m out talking to families in Southern Nevada, it is really cost of living and making their paychecks meet their bills. So many families are struggling to make ends meet. Wages are not going up at the same rate as the cost of living. Health care costs are an incredibly stressful part of that equation for so many families, as well as, prescription drugs.”
Lee said another issue is education. She said families want to make sure their children can access a quality education and quality teachers. She also said she’s hearing from young people who are overburdened with student loan debt.
What do you think is the fix for the country’s immigration policy?
“I think we have to have strong borders. And we have to make sure that we are doing it wisely and cost-effectively. We need smarter border control, that might include fencing and the best use of the latest technology just to make sure that each mile is secured. But we also have to have a comprehensive package that allows an earned pathway to citizenship for people who have been here working, paying taxes, have not been breaking laws. We need to include a solution obviously to the DREAMers situation… I deal with young people day in and day out. I talked to many people at our universities and our high schools. And the fact that these young people who have been here, this is the only home they know are living now with incredible uncertainty about their future. And honestly, it’s shameful how they’re being used as a bargaining chip.”
Lee says there is an opportunity to come together and work on a bipartisan solution. She said the bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill that was crafted but not brought up for a vote shows it is possible to come to an agreement on the issue.
Should the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, should be dismantled or changed?
“This is an area where I’m very much opposed to my opponent Danny Tarkanian. The Affordable Care Act, I think we can all say, it wasn’t perfect. There are things that need to be changed about it. But honestly, Nevada saw a 42 percent increase in people with insurance because of the Affordable Care Act. Now people with pre-existing conditions can have protections.”
Lee said the issue of health care is personal to her. When her father lost his job and her mother suffered a heart attack, they were given an $80,000 bill for her treatment.
Lee said the country needs to look at the best ways to bring the cost of health care and prescription drugs down. She said allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription prices, improving market conditions so there are more generic drugs, and demanding more transparency for drug prices will all help.
“What we need to do is really focus on electing people who are willing to roll up their sleeves, take on these tough issues instead of declaring you are on one side or the other. Danny Tarkanian wants to completely repeal the Affordable Care Act wants everything to be run in the private market. I think we know where that has gotten us. We’ve got a good start with the Affordable Care Act. I think we just need to focus on the parts that need to be fixed.”
If elected, would you support impeaching President Trump?
“I am running because I am tired of the divisiveness and dysfunction of Washington and I don’t think it is working for working families. I think the investigation should run its course but honestly, I want to get there and get to work for Nevada and working families. I think we have so many pressing issues on our table and I want to take advantage of the opportunity that I have to work on those issues.”
What should Congress do about the mounting national debt that some economists have blamed on the tax cuts passed by Congress last year?
“This tax bill that the Republican Congress passed here in Nevada 80 percent of the benefit goes to the top 20 percent of income earners here and big corporations. We see these statistics – the economy is growing. We see that stock buybacks are at a record level but families here are not seeing it when they’re trying to balance their paycheck.”
Lee said there are opportunities to invest in infrastructure, in skills training, and in capital for small businesses, which she says will grow the economy.
She said if they’re going to talk about tax reform she wants to put middle-class families first.
Do you have any proposals to ease student loan debt?
“I think we need to get some control over predatory lending, for-profit universities. Right now, the Trump administration just purposed a $15 billion cut in support that would help low and middle-income students afford higher ed. The number one investment where we get return on our dollar is investment in education. What we’re seeing out of this administration is basically privatizing everything and leaving people on their own.”
Lee said there needs to be more transparency and accountability for higher education so that when students are taking out loans to pay for college and other higher ed programs that they’re able to find a job and pay back those loans when they’re finished.
She would also like to see the state leverage more of the tax dollars it sends to Washington to fund stronger education programs in health care, clean energy, cybersecurity and education.
“As a Congresswoman, I’m going to be focused on what are we going to do where we bring federal money and investing in education, investing in research here in Nevada that is going to support the sectors of our economy that is going to help us diversify so we’re not so reliant on one industry and honestly, a boom-bust economy because of that.”
Where do you stand on background checks for weapon sales?
“I was a big supporter of the background check initiative here in Nevada. Unfortunately, Adam Laxalt has chosen to not implement it. I think we need to take common-sense measures to make gun ownership safer. I respect the Second Amendment. I respect that we have a long tradition of gun ownership in our country people like to hunt. People like to know that they can protect their families and I respect that. But I think we can take some common-sense steps to make guns safer, starting with universal background checks.”
Would you support legalizing marijuana at the federal level?
“I think Nevada could lead the way in this like we have done in gaming. The biggest issue I would like to see the federal government is banking regulation, making sure our businesses that are in this industry straddled by having to be a case only business.”
Lee said the marijuana industry should follow the path gaming took by being legalized by each state.
Do you think Yucca Mountain should be the site of the nation’s nuclear waste repository?
“No. This has been an issue that has seen bipartisan cooperation by our delegation and that needs to continue. I think it is a very dangerous idea. My opponent Danny Tarkanian, on the other, wants to support it.”
Lee said Southern Nevada relies on gaming and tourism. She said transporting the waste is dangerous and it would not be a matter of ‘if’ there was going to be an accident but ‘when.’
She said there are alternatives to storing the waste 90 miles north of Las Vegas that need to be explored.
Tarkanian told KNPR News that he would like the waste to be brought here to be recycled or reprocessed. Do agree with that idea?
“No. I think that is a naïve idea. First of all, nuclear power is a dying industry here in our country. And the plants are getting are getting to the end of their use. Now, we have this waste all over the country. Shipping it here to reprocess it. There is no market for reprocessed nuclear fuel.”
Lee said in the 90s the country stopped all efforts to find new ways to manage the waste. She thinks we need refocus efforts on that because transporting it to Nevada is not a good idea.
She also pointed out that it takes “copious” amounts of water to reprocess nuclear waste.
“I will continue to fight with our delegation importing the nation’s nuclear waste into our backyard.”
What is your personal view of what’s at stake for Democrats this election cycle?
“I think it’s not just Democrats, I think it is everyone. I think what’s at stake is a Washington that works for families. I don’t care if you’re Republican, Independent or Democrat, the one issue that I hear when I’m out talking to constituents is people are tired of a Washington that doesn’t work. They’re tired of the divisiveness and they want a Congress that is going to work together. That is going to be a check and balance. That is going to put forth solutions that are going to help people live better lives. What’s at stake is people’s faith in their government that we can start to work together and produce solutions.”
Why should you be our next representative?
“My type of leadership is about identifying problems, bringing people together, finding solutions and producing results. That is exactly what we need more of in Washington.”
Susie Lee, candidate