PK ONEILL – ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 40
Assembly District 40 includes Carson City, Washoe County south of Highway 341 (Geiger Grade), east of Highway 395 and a portion of south Reno east of Western Skies Drive, Rio Wrangler Parkway and Mira Loma Road
There are four filed Republican candidates in this race. All four responded to this interview request – Sam England, Chris Forbush, Al Kramer and Incumbent PK ONeill. The winner of the Primary will face an Independent American Party candidate in the General Election.
1. Give a brief summation of your political and professional background.
I am retired from a 40-plus year career in law enforcement, most of that with the Nevada Department of Public Safety. I have a record of proven leadership in all aspects of career; including knowledge of the state budget by administering the Department of Public Safety Records and Technology Division with a $40 million budget and 145 employees.
Governor Guinn appointed me in 2005 to represent Nevada’s interests in various matters related to the sharing and distribution of criminal history data with other States and the Federal Government.
As a freshman legislator I introduced five bills as a primary sponsor, and each of them was passed and signed into law. One of these, which raised the Prevailing Wage to one of the highest in the country, succeeded when similar efforts had failed repeatedly. This is just one of many successful efforts that demonstrate my ability to work collaboratively with colleagues from both parties, as well as administration to achieve positive results.
2. Define your district – general geographic boundaries, demographic make-up and political balance.
Nevada Assembly District 40 includes approximately 65,000 thousand people. The greater majority of the citizens, roughly 55,000 live within the boundaries of Carson City. The District boundary includes all of Carson City, the areas east of old US 395 in Washoe Valley, Pleasant Valley and Steamboat East along Geiger Grade (SR341) to Western Skies Drive, Rio Wrangler Parkway and Mira Loma Road east to the Washoe/Storey County line.
Over 80 percent of the population is considered white with the next largest ethnicity being Hispanic at 19 percent. The largest employer in the District is governmental services at 22 percent followed by retail at 12 percent. The District has a 13 percent registered Republican majority over Democrats, 45 to 32 percent with non-partisan at 15 percent and Independent American at 5 percent.
3. Why are you running for this position? What makes you more qualified than your Republican opponent to serve in this position?
- I wish to continue serving the people of Assembly District 40, ensuring that the improvements gained in the last legislative session are not lost.
I believe we established a solid, positive foundation for continued economic growth in Nevada by restructuring in employment, construction defects, litigation, college funding, workforce development, county/municipal financial stability and K-12 educational reforms requiring performance accountability measures.
A quick look around my district and the rest of the state shows many indications of an improved business climate already. I want to continue supporting Nevada in its growth, both in population and employment, with a diversified economic base and a technically skilled workforce.
Some of my opponents have accused me of backing down on a pledge to oppose all taxes. Though I never set out to increase taxes, I did promise the residents of Assembly District 40 to review all legislation with an open mind, listen to everyone who contacted me, and to vote in accord with the majority of my constituents and my conscience.
At the beginning of the session, we learned about the state’s financial situation and the need to establish a more stable funding source. This issue, regarding the dependency and volatility of gaming revenue has been recognized by a number of blue ribbon panels and studies over the last several years.
The budget of $7.4 billion presented by Governor Sandoval and passed by an overwhelming majority in both houses and in both parties included $800 million in new education funding with required performance accountability measures and the first pay raise for state workers in more than a decade. I do not generally support higher taxes but recognized along with a huge majority of my legislative colleagues that improvements were necessary in our budgeting process.
- I am running for reelection as Assemblyman from District 40 because I believe my campaign is an extension of my professional and personal life to this point – a life of serving the public, working with the public and being involved in efforts to make the community better and safer.
Through my education, my faith, and my family I developed conservative core values, and subscribe to the fundamental beliefs of the Republican Party: Individual responsibility, limited government and low taxes.
My four decades in law enforcement, first with the City of Miami Florida Police Department and then 30 years with the Nevada Department of Public Safety have helped me develop the capacity to question and to listen to people, to hear their stories, and to understand their needs.
That, along with what I have learned in my first legislative term, gives me the ability to listen, research, examine, evaluate, to work with others, then make decisions – and, when necessary, to disagree and stand on principle.
4. There is a well noted and ongoing split among many in the Nevada Republican Party. Define your philosophy in regards to this ‘moderate conservative’ versus ‘tea party’ divisiveness.
I consider myself to be a “Reagan Republican.” I agree with Ronald Reagan’s observation that “my 80 percent friend is not my 20 percent enemy.” My legislative voting record earned me an 80 percent approval rating from the American Conservative Union and a “Conservative Achievement” award.
I am not sure some days where the lines between the various philosophical groups within the Republican Party are drawn. I certainly agree with the concepts of limited government and personal liberty along with personal responsibility which the “Tea Party” along with all Republicans espouses.
However, I also see the importance to being able to work with others in making “forced upon us” bad legislation more favorable to the conservative position as possible. If legitimate compromise cannot be reached I can and will stand my ground to represent what is best for Assembly District40 and the State of Nevada.
5. What are the three most important issues relating to your district and/or the state? How will you legislatively address them?
All three are related. One is economic development: creating new jobs, quality jobs. I support legislation to foster a positive economic climate in Nevada.
Second is supporting growth in community colleges to create a qualified work force. I am proud of my role in the last legislative session to get funding increased for Western Nevada College.
The third is monitoring improvements in our educational system based on the legislation we passed in the last session. I want to ensure that there is strong accountability for the funds invested. I also want to ensure that there will measurable improvements in the education of Nevada’s students.
6. What is your position in regards to the current initiatives? (Question 1 addresses firearms and would require that an unlicensed person who wishes to sell or transfer a firearm to another person conduct the transfer through a licensed gun dealer who runs a background check. Question 2 addresses marijuana. If approved by voters, the measure would legalize the drug for adults and put the tax revenue from the sale of the drug toward education funding.)
I strongly oppose Initiative Petition 1. The Background Check Initiative for Firearms sponsored by former New York Mayor, Michael Bloomberg; I believe it is severely flawed, would be extremely difficult to enforce in Nevada and fraught with unintended consequences.
Current Nevada and federal law prohibits anyone from knowingly providing a firearm to a prohibited person or to a person who is a resident of another state. Additionally, Nevada has a system that allows an unlicensed person to voluntarily conduct a background check on a potential firearm purchaser at no charge. Requiring that the transfer must go through a Federal Firearms Licensed (FFL) Dealer would be extremely difficult in a state as rural as Nevada.
I also strongly oppose Initiative Petition 2. The Legalization of Recreational Marijuana.; Nevada is just initiating a “Medical” Marijuana program and I see no need to rush into a legalization of recreational marijuana usage.
The Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area collects various information regarding the impact of marijuana legalization in the state of Colorado. Here are a few excerpts from their Volume 3, September 2015 Report:
- 46% increase in the hospitalization related to marijuana in the three years after marijuana was commercialized, compared to the three years prior
- 16 Marijuana ingestions in 2014 among children under 12 years compared to 2 in 2009
- 32 THC extraction lab explosions with 30 injuries in 2014 compared to 12 with 18 injuries in 2013
- The majority of cities and counties in Colorado have banned recreational marijuana businesses
- Denver has more licensed medical marijuana centers (198) than pharmacies (117)
I believe we should wait to see what negative social issues may develop from the “medical” program just getting started in Nevada, along with the numerous concerns identified in those states which have fully legalized marijuana usage. After that we can make a much more educated decision as to legalization or not.
7. What is your position in regards to increasing the minimum wage in Nevada?
I find the state’s current minimum wage determination appropriate.
The minimum wage was established basically as an “on the job training” wage. A 2006 voter-approved constitutional amendment requires Nevada’s minimum wage to be recalculated each year by comparing the amount of increases in the federal minimum wage over $5.15 per hour, or, if greater, to the cost of living.
Currently the State’s minimum wage is at $7.25 per hour for workers who received health benefits from their employer. The rate for employees who do not have employer-paid health insurance is $8.25.
It will be valuable to observe the impact of dramatic increases in the minimum wage that are occurring in California and some other locales.
8. Define your position on fracking and other means of oil exploration in Nevada. Do you support coal fired energy plants?
During the 2013 Legislature SB390 was passed requiring the Commission of Mineral Resources and the Division of Environmental Protection to develop a hydraulic fracturing program including the adoption of regulations to implement a “Fracking” procedure. Those regulations describing the approved process for “Fracking” are delineated in the Nevada Administrative Code. I support the program as a necessary method to reduce the country’s reliance on foreign oil and to create jobs in Nevada.
I do support the use the use of clean coal for power generation along with continued development of environmentally friendly energy options such as hydro, natural gas and geothermal.
9. If there is any issue that you are concerned about that has not been addressed in this interview, this is your opportunity to address it:
Nothing, thank you
EDITOR: This is one in a series of online interviews with Republican candidates. All Republican candidates with Primary races were contacted – US Senate, US Congress, State Senate, State Assembly, Carson City Mayor and Lyon County Commissioner. The responses are posted as the candidates presented them to me – no editing. These interviews will be posted in no particular order and, obviously, all races are not of interest in everyone’s particular district; however, NewsDesk readership (www.ndbynd.com) is spread throughout the state so all responses will be posted. You are welcome to repost any of the interviews as long as proper credit is given to NewsDesk.
Primary election day is Tuesday, June 14, 2016. If the candidates in a particular Primary all belong to the same party, the winner will be determined in the Primary and go to the General Election ballot unopposed.
Dates to remember:
- May 14 – Last day to register to vote by mail
- May 24 – Last day to register to vote in the Primary
- May 28-June 19 – Early voting
- June 14 – Primary Election