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KUNR 2020 Voter Guide: Assembly District 27

KUNR 2020 voter guide for Assembly District 27. Illustration of a ballot being placed into a box. A pencil and a roll of stickers are in front of the box.
Crystal Willis

The race for Assembly District 27 features long-time Democratic incumbent Teresa Benitez-Thompson and her Republican challenger, newcomer Barb Hawn. Benitez-Thompson is a social worker and currently serves as the majority floor leader for the Assembly Democratic Caucus. Hawn identifies as a homemaker and serves as the vice president for the Nevada Federation of Republican Women. 

District 27 comprises a large portion of North and West Reno, including Sun Valley, and the area west of the University of Nevada, Reno from Kings Row to Robb Drive. The seat has been largely under Democratic control since the 1980s.

For information on other races, visit our KUNR 2020 Voter Guide home page.

As a note: All responses in KUNR's 2020 Voter Guide have been submitted by the candidates. KUNR has not changed the answers other than to provide fact-checking as needed, indicated in the text with italics and parentheses.

Teresa Benitez-Thompson. Decorative header with a patriotic color scheme.
Credit KUNR
Headshot of Teresa Benitez-Thompson. She is looking toward the camera and smiling.
Credit Courtesy of Teresa Benitez-Thompson

Name: Teresa Benitez-Thompson
Occupation: Social Worker
Political Affiliation: Democrat

Why are you running for office?

I was raised in Assembly District 27, and know the residents to be hard-working, community-oriented people. I will continue to fight for their economic and social well-being at the State Legislature. I will advocate for policies that positively impact their lives, and keep their families safe and stable.

How would you describe yourself to voters?

I am a devoted community member who loves Northern Nevada, and I feel lucky to be raising my 4 children at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Professionally, I am a licensed social worker who has worked with medically vulnerable persons for the past decade.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges facing Nevada?

Economic recovery and resiliency. Hundreds of thousands of Nevadans are accessing safety net programs for the first time in their lives. It's time to be forward-facing and plan for our economic recovery.

Is there one particular issue (education, health care, criminal justice reform, etc.) that you consider most important as a candidate? Why?

Access to quality health care regardless of insurance type, especially when so many people rely on state Medicaid and the insurance exchange. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on Nevada in countless ways. In your opinion, how would you rate the state’s response to the pandemic thus far?

At the state level, my experience was a diligent response to minimize the spread of COVID, and work to get resources to help people meet their basic needs. My role as a Legislator was to ask tough questions when the system was failing people. I attended 8 additional Interim Finance Committee meetings to ensure such oversight.

During the recent 31st Special Session, lawmakers cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the state budget to address a roughly $1.2 billion budget hole created by the pandemic’s economic fallout. That included large cuts to K-12 and higher education, Medicaid and other state services. Do you support the steps taken by the legislature to balance the budget? If not, why?

Nevada's revenue fell dramatically in March when the pandemic arrived. Our state constitution mandates the legislature to pass a balanced budget. This meant spending reductions. I voted for the revised budget because it prioritized safety net programs which Nevadans desperately need right now.

In the 32nd Special Session, Democratic leaders approved a set of resolutions aimed at amending the state constitution to increase taxes on the state’s mining industry. Do you support or oppose those efforts to increase taxes on mining?

I support all conversations that seek to create a more economically reciprocal relationship with the mining industry.

For years, Nevada’s K-12 education system has consistently ranked among the lowest in the country. What steps should lawmakers take to improve the state’s public schools for all children?

I have supported measures to transform Nevada's educational system. I voted for increased revenues for schools at the state and local level; voted for increased teacher pay; voted for targeted funds for English Langauge Learners and at-risk students. The pandemic has introduced a new set of challenges for us to tackle. AD 27 deserves a strong educational advocate like myself in their corner next session.

What is one thing you believe voters should know about you?

Despite tumultuous times, I believe in our community's resiliency. I am a Nevadan who knows the best of Nevada is still to come.

Learn more about Teresa Benitez-Thompson at electteresa.com.

Barb Hawn. Decorative header with a patriotic color scheme.
Credit KUNR

Name: Barb Hawn

Barb Hawn has not yet responded to KUNR’s request to participate in this voter guide. We will post the response if it becomes available.

For information on other races, visit our KUNR 2020 Voter Guide home page.

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