Jeanette Strong: Family, faith and fighting for Nevada

“You’ve got to look at yourself in the mirror every morning. If you don’t like what you see, change it.” Steve Sisolak

When Republican Brian Sandoval was elected governor in 2010, many Nevadans were concerned. We had suffered through four years of Republican Gov. Jim Gibbons and worried Sandoval would be more of the same.

Sandoval turned out to be a governor who could work with both political parties and who wasn’t afraid to take an unpopular position if it was important. He’s been good for Nevada.

Democrat Steve Sisolak is a man in that same mold. He has proven he can work with people of divergent views, he cares passionately about what is best for Nevada, and he has the courage to stand up for what is right even if it’s not always popular.

Emphasizing this bipartisan spirit, Sisolak said this about Sandoval: “He’s done an incredible job. If I’m fortunate enough to get elected, I would like to continue a lot of what he’s done. Through his popularity, he has shown that the no-nonsense, common-sense approach — and being kind of in the middle — has served him well and served the state well.” (Nevada Independent, 6/22/17)

Like Sandoval, Sisolak has also served the state of Nevada well, dedicating much of his life to public service. He was elected to the Nevada State Board of Regents in 1998, serving for 10 years. He was then elected to the Clark County Commission in 2009, and has been chair since January 2013.

Sisolak was born in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, a town just outside of Milwaukee. His father, who taught Sisolak the philosophy expressed above, worked as an engineer for General Motors; his mother worked in local supermarkets. Sisolak worked full-time to put himself through the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, earning a business degree in 1974.

Sisolak then moved to Nevada, earning an MBA from UNLV in 1978. He also built two businesses, employing hundreds of people. “Steve is the only candidate who has experience creating jobs, meeting payroll, running a business in the private sector and attracting major businesses to Nevada as an elected official — and the only candidate committed to continue robust economic diversification and job creation policies.” (Reno Gazette-Journal, 8/29/18)

Sisolak also raised two daughters, Ashley and Carley. Both attended UNLV. Ashley earned a law degree and works as a public defender. Carley earned an MA in public administration and is now the marketing manager for the Golden Knights hockey team. Sisolak says raising his daughters is the best job he ever had.

When his daughter Carley worked as a long-term substitute teacher in some of Clark County’s poorer neighborhoods, Sisolak became more aware of the disheartening conditions many teachers deal with. He saw them pay for classroom supplies out of their own pockets. He saw how the inadequate salaries teachers receive helped create the teacher shortage Nevada is currently experiencing.

He became acutely aware of how important education funding is. Because of this deep belief that education is vital to Nevada’s future, Sisolak has promised that he will not take a salary as governor until teachers get a raise.

Besides education, other top priorities for the state are jobs and healthcare. Sisolak wants to protect the Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion begun in 2013, covering more than 200,000 Nevadans.

On June 13, 2017, Sandoval told the Nevada Independent, “People are living happier and healthier lives. We’ve been able to dramatically increase coverage for the mentally ill, and having them have access to coverage.”

Sisolak wants this progress to continue.

Sisolak also wants to continue Nevada’s record of positive job growth, creating jobs that include good benefits. He wants to expand the state’s role in job training and vocational education. As a successful businessman, he has proven experience in this area.

Sisolak has been studying the issues that affect Northern Nevada. On Labor Day, he visited Lattin Farms in Churchill County, learning about our local agricultural economy and culture. He also visited with local leaders and learned what is important to Fallon and Churchill County.

Most important to Sisolak are his family and faith. He attends Mass every morning and has dinner with his 92-year-old mother and his two daughters every Sunday. His values are clear.

Nevada should be proud to have a candidate who will decide policy based on what’s best for Nevada, not partisan biases. We have a candidate with integrity, who can face himself and his decisions honestly. Steve Sisolak will keep Nevada moving forward.

Jeanette Strong, whose column appears every other week, is a Nevada Press Association award-winning columnist. She may be reached at


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