KUNR 2020 Voter Guide: Assembly District 40

Oct 16, 2020

The race for Assembly District 40 features a face-off against former Assemblyman Philip “P.K.” O’Neill and Sena Loyd, the former director of the Carson City Library. O’Neill is a retired division chief with the Nevada Department of Public Safety. He was previously elected to the Assembly for District 40 in 2014, but was voted out of office in 2016 for his support of the state’s commerce tax. Loyd identifies as an information professional. She currently serves on the Boys and Girls Club of Western Nevada Advisory Council and the Western Nevada College Foundation.

District 40 is mostly made up of Carson City and eastern Washoe Valley.

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.

Credit KUNR

Credit Sena for Nevada Assembly District 40 via Facebook

Name: Sena Loyd
Occupation: Information Professional
Political Affiliation: Democrat 

Why are you running for office?

I am running because I want to help Nevadans, I have the energy and drive to serve in elected office on behalf of constituents who may not have time or desire to do so, but who deserve to have their voices heard and represented.

How would you describe yourself to voters?

I am a thoughtful, dedicated and committed individual who wants to represent all constituents. I believe that we have more in common with each other than we are different and I believe that I am the best candidate to help bridge this divide. I am a former appointed public officer as the former Library Director for the Carson City Library where I managed a balanced budget and staff which supported an average of 1,300 visits each day from the entire community. Under my leadership, the Carson City Library was named a top 14 library in the Nation. As a registered lobbyist for the Nevada Library Association and the City of Carson City, I helped to secure $500,000 for Nevada’s public libraries statewide. These funds helped libraries across the state integrate emerging technology and virtual learning into their communities, this has evolved into a premier workforce development tool connecting rural learners with good middle-class careers.

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

Currently, I believe that the biggest challenge that Nevada faces is how to address revenue shortfalls with an economy that is still suffering from the closures as a result of the global pandemic. One proposal to help remedy this in the upcoming legislative session is to change the deductions for gold mining. I believe that through a systematic approach to more fairly address the countercyclical nature of profits from the mining of gold vs. the economy through changing the definition of net proceeds using the same economic trigger mechanism in existing law used by the Interim Finance Committee. When the economy crashes and state tax revenue collection becomes dire, a few of the currently allowed deductions would go away. This would result in a slightly higher tax being imposed on the production of gold at exactly the same time when the price of gold is spiking.

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

As with the answer above, I think the most pressing issue is revenue shortfalls due to our current state of the economy. This has a significant impact on every other single issue I would consider important as a candidate. I will emphasize the need to support our community college programs that are beyond a high school diploma but do not require a 2 year degree. I will fight to expand apprenticeship programs that allow for high-quality work-based learning with post-secondary earn-and-learn models and I will continue to support Nevada libraries services for upskilling and retraining community members to get people working in well-paying careers.

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?

The saying goes something like this, ‘hindsight is 2020’. I believe that our executive branch administration took the steps they felt necessary to curb the spread of the virus, which unfortunately came at a detriment to the economy. One lesson I hope that everyone learns from this is that communication is key, if we didn't already know it before.

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?

We have to have a balanced budget and I support the decisions made to get there. That being said, I do wish that we could better work across the aisle in situations like this to ensure that we are solving the tough problems together.

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 do support efforts to change the way taxes are collected on mining during an economic emergency. I would propose that through a systematic approach to more fairly address the countercyclical nature of profits from the mining of gold vs. the economy through changing the definition of net proceeds using the same economic trigger mechanism in existing law used by the Interim Finance Committee. When the economy crashes and state tax revenue collection becomes dire, a few of the currently allowed deductions would go away. This would result in a slightly higher tax being imposed on the production of gold at exactly the same time when the price of gold is spiking.

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?

We need to start with ensuring that sufficient dedicated funding is available for schools to ensure that teachers and support staff are paid well.

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

Should you choose me to be your representative, I will maintain an open-door policy, as ALL constituents deserve to have their voices heard and be represented. 

Learn more about Sena Loyd at senafornevada.com.

Credit KUNR
Credit Courtesy of P.K. O'Neill

Name: Philip "PK" O'Neill
Occupation: Retired Law Enforcement, Commissioner for the Nevada Commission on Ethics
Political Affiliation: Republican

Why are you running for office?

I’m running because I care about Nevada as a whole and the constituents of AD 40. I want to ensure that our citizens have a safe and economically stable community in which to conduct business, raise a family, be active and thrive. I have been in service to Nevada and Carson City for over forty years. First in a law enforcement career, volunteering in youth sports programs, active in my Church community, as a former legislator and now on various community service Boards. I have deep roots in this community, my children grew up here. I care about protecting the lifestyle which makes northern Nevada such a wonderful place to live.

How would you describe yourself to voters?

I’m running because I care about Nevada as a whole and the constituents of AD 40. I want to ensure that our citizens have a safe and economically stable community in which to conduct business, raise a family, be active and thrive. I have been in service to Nevada and Carson City for over forty years. First in a law enforcement career, volunteering in youth sports programs, active in my Church community, as a former legislator and now on various community service Boards. I have deep roots in this community, my children grew up here. I care about protecting the lifestyle which makes northern Nevada such a wonderful place to live.

As a note of clarification, O’Neill provided the same answer in response to the first two questions for KUNR’s voter guide.

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

Right now, the biggest challenge is to get our economy back on track so that all Nevadans are able to find suitable work once again and resume their previous lives. We need to find ways to diversify our economy even more so that if there is another emergency such as the one, we are better prepared as a state.

Another major challenge is the need for more emphasis on mental health. Within our region, Carson City has recognized this growing need for treating those with mental health issues by supporting the Mallory Center which has become a regional center for neighboring counties. I believe a focus on mental health will be even more important as we continue to fight our way out of the aftereffects of the pandemic.

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

I consider all those mentioned to be important and hope to be able to find solutions to affect the change needed. Education is always at the top of my list, whether it is K-12 or higher education focusing on workforce development. We need to put a real effort to lift Nevada from near the bottom of the nation's education rankings. I am proud of the work Carson City has taken to provide quality education and hope it could provide some guidance for the rest of the state.

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?

This pandemic has been a learning curve for us all. We have learned how unprepared we are to handle emergencies of this type. Could we have handled this better? I am not sure since there has been no playbook nationally to handle a pandemic. No one expected the immediate governmental shutdown from which it will take years to recover. It is unfortunate our antiquated IT systems were not able to accommodate those who needed a financial lifeline to survive. It is important we learn from our weaknesses and proceed to correct them. It is also too bad that there were so many partisan politics involved, for this is a time when politics should take a back seat and all work together to make an untenable situation easier on those suddenly without work, health insurance, and financial means.

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?

Due to the pandemic, Nevada faced a serious budget shortfall that needed to be addressed. Unfortunately, the controlling party was ill-prepared that resulted in days of inactivity that burned through taxpayer dollars and lacked transparency that limited the ability of legislators to make responsible budget cuts. While Republicans looked at proposals to save money and reduce painful cuts to essential programs, Democrats focused on partisan legislation that favored special interest groups and singled out the mining sector.

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 do not support the resolutions. Our state’s economy was doing better than expected up until the mass closure of businesses in mid-March. New revenue streams are not necessary to properly fund the state’s various services. Our focus should be keeping Nevada open for business in a secure and responsible manner and ensuring that we are protecting Nevada jobs. Additionally, singling out one industry for differential treatment is bad policy that will create serious unintended consequences. 

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?

Funding for education has been a priority every legislative session. Unfortunately, previous reforms have not resulted in improved performance. Checks and balances are needed so that money intended for educators and students do not line the pockets of special interest groups. I will work with my colleagues to ensure that our children receive the best possible education, but that starts by putting politics aside to get the job done.

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

I am committed to doing what is right for our communities regardless of political party. Drawing on my years of experience in law enforcement, I have the ability to question and listen to people, to hear their stories and understand their needs. I have the skill to examine the facts which are given. Then take the collected information and apply it to make sound decisions as to public policy and law for what is best for Nevada’s citizens.

Learn more about P.K. O'Neill at pkoneill4nv.com

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