27 Apr Lesley Cohen
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Please share briefly what inspired you to run for this office and why you feel you’re qualified for the position.
I am a nearly life-long Nevadan who moved here as a baby because my parents wanted a better life for their family. I care about the state and the people who live here. I take the legislative process seriously and know it is an effective tool to improve the state for all Nevadans. I enjoy working with stakeholders and Nevadans from all walks of life as we determine how best to address different issues in the state. I have an open-door policy. It has been my great honor to serve the people of the state and am proud of my record. There is more to be done, and I know I can contribute to getting it done.
Would you support allocating more state funds to help DACA recipients to help with higher education?
I believe DACA recipients should have the same opportunities as other students in Nevada for higher education. These young people are Nevadans. However, as with everything we do, we must acknowledge the limited resources which we have to spend.
How will the state fight the growing issue of homelessness that is increasing in our communities and use funds to expand on shelters for these community members?
While we need to focus on mental health treatment and drug addiction in order to address homelessness, the importance of expanding our affordable housing supply is fundamental to combat the issue of homelessness. This is one of those issues where if there was an easy answer, we would have done it by now. However, we do know that incentivizing construction of affordable homes helps, especially when the homes are multifamily.
Nevada has historically protected the right to abortion, including protecting the right in statute 30 years ago by a vote of the people. However, there remain barriers to access in the state. Do you support not only the right to abortion but policies that improve equitable access to abortion care?
I support the right to abortion and policies that improve equitable access to abortion care. We must acknowledge the lack of equitable access in healthcare and its impact on different communities throughout the state.
The state of Nevada is facing an unprecedented shortage of health care providers – a problem that impacts every area of medicine, including the provision of sexual and reproductive care. Do you support removing the physician-only requirement and allowing advanced practice clinicians (APCs) to provide this vital care to patients with training and certification?
I support removing physician-only requirements and was happy to vote to allow Advance Practice Registered Nurses to broaden their scope of practice for the benefit of their patients.
It is well documented that patients of color face greater obstacles to obtaining sexual and reproductive health care than non-Hispanic white Americans – a pattern that results in worse health outcomes overall for BIPOC patients. Do you not only acknowledge systemic racism’s role in public health disparities but will you pursue policies that seek to rectify the historical harm of systemic racism and advance equitable access to health care?
I do acknowledge systemic racism's role in public health disparities and will pursue polices that seek to rectify the historical harm of systemic racism. I will advance equitable access to health care. I do believe Nevada has taken strides to address systemic racism, as well as anti-LGBTQIA and anti-religious minority care in the healthcare fields, but we must acknowledge these issues and strive to prevent them to have true equity in healthcare.
Knowing that the death penalty is exorbitantly expensive, racially discriminatory, and does not promote true healing for victims family members, do you support its abolition and do you think ending the death penalty is a crucial part of criminal justice reform?
I was proud to vote for the abolition of the death penalty in the Nevada Legislature and believe it is discriminatory and overly expensive. Also, I understand that dozens of people have come off of death row in the United States after having been exonerated post-conviction which should convince anyone of issues in the system.
True Colors United, a national organization that implements innovative solutions to youth homelessness that focus on the unique experiences of LGBTQ+ young people continues to rate Nevada as critically low, for its State Index on Youth Homelessness (in collaboration with the National Homelessness Law Center) that ranks and scores laws and policies related to preventing and addressing youth homelessness in the United States. Are you willing to support legislation that helps to fund and provide oversight regulations to youth homelessness services?
I cannot say if I will support legislation without reviewing it first. However, I do acknowledge youth homelessness is an issue, and, with the caveat that funding is always an issue, I generally believe funding would be well spent on youth homeless services. Likewise, providing oversight regulations would be important to ensure homeless youth receive the best care possible.
Anti-transgender bills are being introduced across the United States that attempt to prevent trans people from having access to health care, gender reassignment surgery, and access to sports in schools. Do you support transgender equality and access to healthcare and an athletic school experience?
I do support transgender equality and access to healthcare and an athletic school experience. I was glad to vote for legislation to support transgender equality and respect in healthcare.
We have seen rental rates increasing at a very alarming rate, in some instances upwards of 30%. How do you see the Nevada Legislature taking action to keep Nevadans in their homes and not being priced out?
Incentivizing new construction is an important way to keep Nevadans in their home, but that will not be enough to prevent the outrageous rent increases we have seen and can expect to continue to see.
Nevada has one of the largest shares of federal public land of any state in the country, providing important wildlife habitat, places to hunt, camp, fish and hike, and acting as the foundation of a billion dollar outdoor industry. Even so, some lawmakers have promoted policies that seek wholesale transfer of federal ownership of our national lands to states. A) Would you support or oppose these land transfer policies? B) Would should the State of Nevada’s role be in the management and ownership of federal land?
Without seeing legislation, I cannot say what I will do in voting for it. However, I do not see myself ever voting for wholesale transferring of federal lands. Nevada simply cannot afford to care for the federal public lands. As such, a wholesale transfer would likely lead to those lands being sold for private use, causing the lose of wildlife habitat as well as our billion dollar outdoor recreation industry and its employment of thousands of Nevadans. I was proud to propose and champion legislation to encourage the federal government to protect the Desert Wildlife Refuge. Legislation like this is one way Nevada can have a role in the management of federal lands.
State investments in conservation provide resources for a wide range of public benefit, like the management of wildlife and state land, and the creation and maintenance of trails and other recreational facilities. In 2019, the Legislature approved $217 million of bonding authority for conservation purposes, including for the acquisition of land for new state parks. A) Do you support or oppose state investment in conservation? B) Has Nevada’s investment in land conservation been too little, too much, or about right, and how would you change it?
Nevada has a billion dollar outdoor recreation industry with good jobs that cannot be shipped to other states. I support Nevada's investment in land conservation for the sake of conservation and as an economic investment. While there are always good progr
Would you support addressing public health disparities in Nevada’s diverse Spanish speaking population by funding a “Promotores de Salud” program through the Nevada Office of New Americans that provides year round, culturally competent education and community engagement in Spanish on public health issues?
I believe we should have culturally competent healthcare for all Nevadans, and funding diverse community health workers may be a good option to help address public health disparities.
What are you doing to center communities of color and low-income communities in your work, and how do you ensure that equity is part of every decision you make?
The healthcare field has a concept called HiAP, Health in All Policies, in which health is considered in all policymaking across multiple sectors. I believe we need to consider systemic racism and impacts to low-income communities in all of our policy considerations. Until we acknowledge these issues, we will not be able to address them. Further, I will always have an open-door policy so that I am available to learn how racism impacts communities in ways I do not even know to consider.
The APIA community faces the largest unmet financial needs when it comes to higher education. Nevada has the highest student loan default rate in the country. In Nevada, there are 333,100 student loan borrowers, $11.5 Billion in student loan debt, and $34,700 in average debt per borrower. What policies can we implement to ensure students and families are protected from predatory lenders and undue financial burdens?
We have made strides to address predatory lenders in Nevada. For instance, I proposed and passed legislation to abolish predatory leasing of consumer good such as hearing aids, car tires, wedding dresses, and puppies. However, predatory lending is still an issue we must address. I also believe we must continue to promote financial literacy for students and adults.
Latinx communities are extremely concerned about the drought and ongoing water shortages. What would you do to ensure our families have a sustainable water supply, not just now but also future generations?
We recognize that our long-term drought is detrimental to our sustainable water supply and have taken steps to address it, such as outlawing decorative grass. However, these steps are not enough to ensure a sustainable water supply. We need to continue to come up with creative solutions to lower our water usage.
One out of seven people in Clark County are food insecure. What policies would you propose to ensure people are not residing in food deserts and have access to healthy food and water sources?
We have taken steps to prevent food insecurity by passing legislation for community gardens and small business growth such as the NV Grow program. (Note, NV Grow does not specifically support businesses dealing with food, but it does provide support which can be used for small grocery stores and other food businesses.) I believe we should continue to support community gardens and growing small businesses which provide nutritious food. We should also support programs in schools like the ones at Myrtle Tate ES which hold farmers markets of the food they grow and teaches community classes about nutrition. Improving public transportation will also help with food insecurity as it will be easier for people to get to grocery stores and farmers markets.