Duerr, Kerns, Taylor in the State Senate District 15 Democratic primary

After Senate District 15 was redrawn in 2021 to be friendlier to Democratic candidates, Republican Senate Minority Leader Heidi Seevers Gansert chose not to run for re-election.

Two well-known Democrats stepped up to fill the void left by this open seat that represents large parts of Reno: Assemblywoman and former school board chair Angie Taylor and Reno City Councilwoman Naomi Duerr.

They are joined in the Democratic primaries by Johnny Kerns.

In November, the winner will face one of three Republicans: Sharron Angle, Mike Ginsburg or Mark Neumann.

The primaries are Tuesday, June 11. The first voting runs from May 25 to June 7.

Where is Nevada State Senate District 15?

State Senate District 15 includes Sun Valley, northwest Reno and large portions of southwest Reno, stretching from Longley Lane west to Mayberry Drive.

View a map here.

Who is Naomi Duerr running for Nevada State Senate District 15?

  • Age: 67
  • Education: A bachelor’s degree in geology and a master’s degree in public administration and policy, both from the University of Nevada, Reno
  • Occupation: Geologist, small business owner, Reno City Council member
  • Political experience: Elected to the Reno City Council three times, currently serving as Vice Mayor
  • Family: Married
  • Money raised in 2024: $29,000 (cash: $66,000)
  • Biggest donors: Robert Hager, Shirley Roberts, Reno Engineering Corp., Atlantis Casino Resort, Nevada Mine Properties, Richard Harris

Who is Johnny Kerns running for Nevada State Senate District 15?

  • Age: 44
  • Education: Associate’s degree in political science, bachelor’s degree in political science, justice, psychology
  • Occupation: Murder investigator and author
  • Political experience: Justice of the Peace, Commissioner of the Supreme Court
  • Political affiliation: Democrat
  • Family: Unmarried
  • Money raised in 2024: $1,000 (cash: $300)
  • Biggest donor: Johnny Kerns

Who is Angela D. Taylor running for Nevada State Senate District 15?

  • Age: 60
  • Education: Ph.D. in Education
  • Occupation: Consultant
  • Political experience: Washoe County School District Board of Directors 2014-2022; Nevada State Assembly 2022 to Present
  • Family: Single
  • Money raised in 2024: $69,500 (cash: $163,000)
  • Biggest donors: New Day Nevada PAC; PR&M investments; Committee to Elect Steven Yeager; Nevada Strong PAC; Citizens for Justice PAC

What is good about Nevada election laws and what would you like to see changed?

• Naomi Duerr: I think the election laws are quite effective. They provide people with broad access to participate in our democracy. Voting locations have expanded and mail-in ballots have made it much easier for people to participate.

I want to expand the reach of rural and Native American communities. I was an opinion leader at a polling station for many years. I became acutely aware of the need to include all voters in the voting process. It is not just about different languages, but about all kinds of accessibility. Some people can’t see, some can’t hear.

It’s just really important to me to make sure voting is accessible to everyone, so I want to continue to expand access to all communities.

•Johnny Kerns: I think Nevada’s election laws are designed to support the integrity of the election system, so they do a lot of things right.

Strengthening some of the tactics traditionally considered voter suppression – voter ID laws – gives me pause. Not everyone has a driver’s license these days. Many young voters would feel forced out of the process.

And I want a more open primary process where we choose candidates and vote on issues, rather than strict party identification. I have friends who can’t vote for me in the primaries because they are registered independents. That’s unfair and not necessarily in the interest of creating good candidates for Nevada.

• Angie Taylor: We get universal voting rights by mail. Our participation rate has increased dramatically since then. As citizens of our state, we want more participation. I don’t want anyone who shouldn’t be voting to vote, but I think we should make it as easy as possible for those who can vote so that they can participate in the democratic process as is their constitutional right.

It’s not law, but I’m concerned about the change in mail processing and the impact it could have on the counting of legal votes. Since we have to go over the hill to Sacramento and back, it will take longer to get to the registration office, so there will probably be some missed votes.

How would you hold schools or school districts accountable for improving student achievement?

• Duerr: In terms of accountability, we cannot reward lack of performance, but we can reward performance.

We can also help our teachers be more effective. That would be my focus. Everyone in every field needs to be constantly learning. We must continue to sharpen our knowledge, our practice and the ways in which we can communicate it. So the training can be about communication, the training can be about the subject. But I really support teacher institutes and teacher training courses, because ultimately it’s about wanting to do better.

• Cores: Many states have smaller budgets than Nevada without the revenue and resources from gambling and tourism, and yet they manage to produce higher graduation rates and better educated students. So it’s important to ask why.

We have 50 independent laboratories where we try different methods to achieve results. If we are near the bottom, if we are not ranked 50th in the nation, we need to look at our neighbors and see what worked and what could be done in Nevada to ensure that we can fix our failing system improve. Then we get up and learn from our failures. We don’t just keep throwing good money after bad and repeating the same mistakes because it’s clearly not working.

• Taylor: First, I think it’s important to have the context that the historic $2 billion funding (by the 2023 Legislature) was necessary because we haven’t put money into education, and that’s why we’re so far behind have been affected (in terms of student performance measures). .

We didn’t get to 49th in funding overnight, so we won’t get there overnight. But because we just made this historic investment, I think we need to start asking questions right away: How do we know we’re even moving in the right direction? How do we measure growth?

There should be some accountability so that we know if where we put it really makes a difference for students and teachers.

If you could endorse one thing to make housing more affordable in Nevada, what would it be?

• Duerr: Affordable housing is targeted to people with varying levels of AMI (regional median income). There’s 30%, 50%, 80%. The (affordable) rents are linked to AMI, but as we have diversified our economy and wages have risen, this has not happened for everyone. Social security has not been increased by a comparable amount. I have had people move out of “affordable housing” because they could no longer afford it.

So if you were to ask me one thing, it would be a rent cap for seniors. I don’t want to say that you should keep the rent stable – prices will go up, we understand that. But there is a reasonable increase and then there are unreasonable increases for people who simply can’t afford to live anymore.

• Cores: The state has a lot of control over the course of the deportation process and prescribes the method of that process to the judiciary. So the first thing I would do is introduce legislation to reform our truly unjust deportation laws.

If you look at other states, it’s generally a 30-day process that unfolds – 30 days is not a long time. We have to try to keep people at home so that we don’t create more problems.

If you are committed to renting out real estate and you cannot cover one month’s expenses, then in my opinion you don’t need to take the risk of being a real estate renter. So when I get to the Senate, I will introduce legislation to change the deportation process. I know this has bipartisan support.

• Taylor: We’ve passed eight bills that impact housing and only three of them have been signed (by Gov. Joe Lombardo), so I think there’s some opportunity there (in the next legislative session).

I think we can look at public-private partnerships and how we can get more benefit from federal dollars. As a state, we don’t do that very well. We rank 49th in the nation among states that receive the most federal match dollars. We’re leaving a lot of dollars on the table – and some of that is in housing.

And I think we can encourage developers to be partners with us at the state level, at the Housing Authority level.

Candidates’ answers have been edited for length and clarity from telephone interviews.

Mark Robison is the state politics reporter for the Reno Gazette Journal, with occasional forays into other topics. Email comments to [email protected] or respond on Mark’s Greater Reno Facebook page.