Presidential hopeful Tom Steyer is the first candidate to visit the Silver State since New Hampshire’s primary Tuesday. He joined Fernley locals for a breakfast meet and greet on Wednesday.
The room inside the Black Bear Diner was packed wall-to-wall, and the room’s outside patio doors were propped open to add space for the overflow of nearly 100 people. Some stood, while others sat and ate a traditional American breakfast.
Steyer didn’t hesitate to say that he is no stranger to rural Nevada; his first job was milking cows in Gardnerville. He went on to address affordable health care, gun reform and a push for solar power in the state. And for just a little more than an hour, he answered questions.
“I want to meet the people of Nevada face-to-face, and I want to hear what is on their mind," Steyer said. "If you were here during this get together, you would hear seniors who are really scraping by. People who can’t get the health care that they need, and whose kids can't get the health care that they need.”
One of those locals is Shannon Oliver, a resident who describes herself as a victim of the recession. She has dedicated her career to being a school bus driver for the past 16 years.
“We don’t have the support for our schools, our supplies, [or] our teachers," Oliver said. "We’re driving buses from 1990. We have multiple children that do not have health care, and I know this, and I’m just a school bus driver. They sit behind me and I can hear what they have to say. I hear that they don’t have money, or that their parents aren't making enough, or that they aren’t offered health care.”
Steyer also spoke about fighting for tax breaks for the working middle class, but Coral Kulper said she wishes tax breaks for small business owners were part of the conversation.
“I don’t think it's fair," Kulper said. "I think the other candidates need to talk about not just working people, but also people who want to start a business, because that's what America is: a place to start dreams."
Steyer said he feels confident, even after not placing in the top three during Iowa's caucus and New Hampshire's primary. He's calling Nevada's caucus a new race on this side of the country. He is headed to Southern Nevada today [Thursday] and will be back to Northern Nevada for one last stop.
Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren will be in Reno over the weekend.