Yesterday, The Globe interviewed Sheriff Joe Lombardo, GOP gubernatorial candidate for Nevada. In our first interview, we covered essential topics related to polling and the primary concerns of Nevadans–education, the economy, and crime. Due to the Sheriff’s answers, the interview will be broken into two parts. On the heels of Donald Trump’s endorsement, but a missed Nevada GOP endorsement, we kicked off the interview with this latest news.
The Globe: Let’s talk about the latest news coming out of the Nevada GOP convention this past weekend. The state party endorsed your opponent, Joey Gilbert. But last week you received an endorsement from President Donald Trump. What are your thoughts on the Nevada GOP endorsement and which endorsement do you think will carry more weight to help you in your race?
Sheriff Lombardo: First and foremost it is unfortunate how the tea leaves fell at the state convention. But, the Central Committee unanimously endorsed me as the only candidate to move forward. But, obviously, party politics comes into place and you have to have the delegates have a voice in the process. Unfortunately, it turned out the way it did. But, it won’t have any negative effect overall towards my campaign. Donald Trump is as important or more important to the overall success of the campaign.
Were you expecting this endorsement from President Trump or did it catch you by surprise?
Neither. I had a couple conversations with the President prior to the endorsement and there was no definitive answer given by the President during those conversations. But, I absolutely appreciate his endorsement of me and the campaign and believe he based his decision on my past leadership and experience that Nevadans can trust. We have had a conversation on more than one occasion in reference to critical incidents that occurred in the Las Vegas Valley, in particular to One October and the prison recidivism program, “Hope for Prisoners” and his support of that. He has appreciated the overall performance of my leadership as a Sheriff, and even my experience in the military. Donald Trump has always been an advocate for the military and law enforcement and I believe that led him to his decision.
I am glad you brought up October 1st, because I was going to ask you about that. How did October 1st change policing and how did it change or effect you, personally and professionally?
I believe it changed policing in the need to have a robust conversation and constant communication with the private sector; and, also ensure we have mutual training associated with responding to critical incidents. It also opened our eyes in the domestic terrorism space. You can’t conceptualize every type of crisis that may occur. In my opinion, this was more of a one-off situation where an individual in an elevated position created carnage against citizens who were trying to enjoy themselves. It would be hard for you to “what if” until the cows come home, but it improved our response to crises and recovery in the law enforcement space.
And, how did it change me personally? I did some self reflection as a result of 1 October. Did I–had I done everything possible to ensure that there would be a prevention piece associated with this type of event? I am comfortable in saying “Yes.” I wanted to make sure we were being proactive in responding to any crisis. We could never conceptualize this. You’re going to get the keyboard cowboys who say they would have thought of this 100 years ago–which is absolutely false.
The important piece on this is that I had provided the training for my officers to include partnerships with the surrounding jurisdictions in a response to any crisis, that we could adopt to any crisis in that space and I believe that the performance of all the law enforcement here, to include first responders was robust sound and very professional.
When voters in Las Vegas and around Nevada are asked about their primary concerns, crime is always at the top of the list. As Sheriff of Clark County, what do you believe has caused spikes in crime and what as Governor will you or can you do to reduce crime?
Great question and that is part of my platform–law and order. There is no better person or subject matter expert than the Sheriff of Clark County to opine on crime and law and order. One of the reasons I am running for Governor is exactly that space. In Nevada, we have been the subject to single party rule for the last two legislative sessions and I personally believe that both of those sessions have had a general attitude of being soft on crime by addressing crime–as far as sentencing thresholds and lessening sentencing associated with crimes being committed and preventing police from doing their job. I have used the term “handcuffing the police”. There has been a general lack of support of law enforcement across the United States, including the state of Nevada.
So I would, as Governor, show continued and robust support in hiring, directly related to the state police, getting them the appropriate salary to prevent them from leaving the state police adding robust recruiting and support for them to do their job.
And, the repeal of detrimental laws that have had an effect, I believe, in the increase of crime across the board. What I can allude to is the habitual criminal statutes and thresholds related and associated to narcotics, larceny, and burglary and all the sentences that go along with those particular crimes. When you bring it home to Clark County, yes there was a five percent increase in crime last year. In Washoe the increase was 28%. Why is that? Well, it is the general malaise I talked about here. We have had double-digit increases in crime in the top 50 jurisdictions across the country. I am proud of the numbers that we have in Clark County. I guess that is a little tainted to say that I am proud, because we had an increase, but it could have been a lot worse without our direct leadership in addressing the issues as we saw the coming forward.
Another top concern of Nevadans is education. Nevada is at the bottom or dead last in all categories in education. Eldorado high school made national news when a teacher was violently attacked, leading to charges against a 16 year old for murder and sexual assault. What are your solutions? What can be done to turn this failing education system around?
Well I guess there are two questions in that. Violence in the system and accountability and performance in the system. Unfortunately, we have had a malaise in the education system for several years and I think part of that is the governor failing to make that a priority in his tenure here as the governor. My context on that is, Brian Sandoval had a pretty comprehensive education reform plan that he had implemented. We started seeing successes in that, specifically in performance. When Sisolak took office, he saw fit to gut the system and not rely on any part of that plan or to head under his own vision. One example of this is “Read by Three”. It is simple. If you are a third grader, you read at the third grade level before you advance. But the Clark County School District has now implemented policies and practices that performance doesn’t matter. Attendance is the sole evaluator. So, if you attend class, you will meet the minimum standard to go forward. You have to have accountability in performance in the school district and guidance from the governor as far as what curriculum should be taught and how the monies associated with the support in the system needs to be utilized. The money into the system has to be utilized.
You can’t have a one size fits all program in Nevada. Northern Nevada is different from Southern Nevada. The rurals are different than the rest of Nevada. If you were to remove Southern Nevada from the formula, I would anticipate we would move up nationally. What I am referring to, Megan, is that in Southern Nevada there is an infrastructure problem. And what that means is that the quality of life of a teacher in southern Nevada is lacking because you have on an average of 40 kids per teacher–which is a terrible quality of life for the teacher and the student. It creates an environment where kids can’t learn. So what is the Governor’s role in that? Infrastructure. To build out the infrastructure in southern Nevada and give autonomy to the rurals to determine how that money should be spent because every rural jurisdiction has a different environment than the other.
In Northern Nevada we need to continually provide vision, direction and advisement on curriculum. So outside of all that, we need to allow such programs as school choice, voucher systems, expansion of opportunity scholarships and workforce development. For us to expand our economy, we have to expand the workforce and the labor force to outfit those jobs that we envision to diversify the economy. Currently we don’t have it.
In years past, when I was in high school in the Clark County School district, we did have workforce development and trades in high schools. Now we just put them on islands, separated by geography, and lack of space and availability for kids to move forward, It’s a combination of all of that, Megan, to have success in the education space in Nevada.
(This is Part One of a Two-Part interview. Part Two will run tomorrow. The Globe is committed to bringing our readers unfiltered, in-depth conversations with candidates for public office.)
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