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Felipe Rodriguez (D) has become a familiar face around Mesquite as he campaigns for his first election to the Nevada State Assembly, representing District 19. As he opponent, Cresent Hardy (R) recently did, Rodriguez discussed a wide range of issues with the Mesquite Citizen Journal.
Born in Cuba, his family migrated to the United States in 1967. "My parents had a lot of great opportunities when they first came to this country," Rodriguez remarked. He was raised in the upper west side of Manhattan in New York City. "There has been a shift. A lot of those great opportunities are no longer here for most of us, particularly the middle class."
"Instead of moving forward, it appears to me that we're moving backwards. That's when I asked myself what the best thing is that I can do for our nation, our state and for those people I choose to represent. I decided it was time to run for office and be part of the solution and not part of the problem. It's a way to pay back what has been given to us."
He spent over 10 years in the financial industry in New York. He has lived in Las Vegas for 14 years. Currently he works in the time-share industry. "I am on a leave of absence right now from (my job) with one of the local developers in Las Vegas."
"What I'm finding out as I knock on doors is how close we are when it comes to the issues," Rodriguez commented when asked about meshing the diverse interests of the urban and rural constituents in the District. Parts of North Las Vegas, Boulder City, the Moapa Valley and Mesquite are included in the reorganized Assembly District 19.
"What's bothering people today are the job conditions in the State. People are looking for job creation whether they are in Mesquite in the rural area or in the urban area. People are worried. Small business owners, whether they are here or there, have the same worries. Education also seems to be at the top. This (area) is a microcosm of what the State is all about," Rodriguez commented.
"Me running District 19 is no different than the Governor running the State. "Most important is to listen to your people. While they may have the questions, they also have the answers and solutions they need. The people will tell you what needs to be done," he explained.
"Education has always been very important in my family and my life. I want to make sure our education system is fully funded and we don't have to go back all the time looking for money. I want to make sure kids and teachers are given the tools needed for them to do their job," Rodriguez commented when the discussion turned to education.
"I want to make sure when children graduate from high school and step into a college or university, they don't have to start taking remedial courses just to get started. That's a waste of funds, time, and everything. We have to start questioning what we were doing for the last 12 years."
"I would like to re-examine where the money for education is going and where it's being applied. Education in Clark County is very top heavy," Rodriguez continued. "There's too much money being spent on administration and not enough spent at the bottom where it's actually needed. Our main focus should be on the children. Our next focus should be on teachers."
"I can see where people can be upset with (teachers') unions. The union has to sell their message a little differently. It's not about the union, it's about the teachers. It's about my next-door
neighbor, my neighbor across the street. These are the people we have charged with the education of our children."
"It's easy to blame the unions and use them as a scapegoat. Is that the only blame to go around. No. Let's look at the administration side that's too top heavy," he said. "Let's bring the union to the table and make them our friend."
"Just increasing funding is not the answer. We have to look at the different factors that have an impact on a child's life," Rodriguez added. "We need an omnipresence where children are constantly being kept in check. We need human connectivity, a human touch."
When Rodriguez was asked about his stand on the proposed property tax increase for school construction that's on the November ballot in Clark County, he said, "The voters will decide on that. It's not up to me to decide one way or another. When making the argument, we have to share with the voters what they are voting for. There are funds for construction, there are funds for education. Do we need a new building versus new books?"
"While it's a great topic of conversation, it's an issue that has to be dealt with at the Federal level," Rodriguez remarked about the proposed designation of the Gold Butte area south of Mesquite as a National Conservation Area or National Monument.
"I don't think there's that much I can do at the local level. We have to be pragmatic about what's going on. We are experiencing hard financial times. We can do both. We can keep the area pristine and we can give access to individuals. We can start charging (admission), and creating revenue for Mesquite. They do it with the Grand Canyon and there's huge revenue coming in."
"I'm all for it," Rodriguez declared about renewable energy sources like solar and wind. "Renewable energy right now is just a dream. If we incentify the corporations and consumers, eventually it will come. The time is right to move ourselves away from coal. Let's start thinking outside the box."
He added that the renewable energy industry could create jobs for Nevadans and "get people back to work."
When the discussion turned to government oversight of small utilities by State agencies, Rodriguez explained that "I believe that government agencies should help the public. They are here to make sure certain things are done correctly. Yes, the government should regulate the utilities. Any company that has access to the public should have transparency in their dealings. The public should know exactly what is going on."
"Regulations serve two purposes," Rodriguez continued. "They protect the major companies from liabilities. And they protect the consumer. I think that's a good thing. If the companies have access to the public, the public should have access to them. The public is entitled to know what's going on behind closed doors."
Moving on to the issue of revising the C-Tax (Consolidated tax) distribution formula in the next legislative session, Rodriguez explained that "we need to revisit our tax structure. I believe it is antiquated. We have different issues going on today. We need to revisit it so we can meet the needs of the Twenty-First century."
The State's C-Tax structure collects local taxes, sends them to the State, and then re-distributes them under a formula based on population counts. It's the main funding source for Mesquite's City government.
"Let's go back and look at everything," he concluded. "Let's see what works and what doesn't work in the financial situation we find ourselves today."
"I don't have many personal goals," Rodriguez replied when asked what his goals would be in the next legislative session if he were elected. "I want to set the goals based on the message the people bring to me and what they want me to bring to Carson City."
Posted Date: 10/12/2012 I like two things Rodriguez said for me as a voter in Mesquite. Jobs, that is important to us. and solar, with the entire OPD mess, that is very important to us here in Mesquite. Cresent Hardy never said anything about those things or what he would do for Mesquite. I think Rodriguez is a better choice for us here. By: Kenny
Posted Date: 10/12/2012 I think body language is more important than the words that come out of someones mouth. For these interviews, Rodgriguez dressed nicely, wore a tie, Hardy dressed like a slob. I think it shows what the candidates really think us voters here in Mesquite. By: Becky
Posted Date: 10/12/2012 He said one really important thing - we need to think outside the box. We can't continue doing things the old way. It is time to move on and think big. By: Larry
Posted Date: 10/12/2012 YES for Rodriquez Absolutely NO Hardy By: Marty
Posted Date: 10/12/2012 Bravo, we need help from the government when outfits like OPD are running wild. Hardy won't do it because OPD is the good old boys. Rodriguez just got my vote and accoriding to the folks in my golf club, he got all their votes too. By: Dave
Posted Date: 10/12/2012 You can tell Rodiguez genuinely cares. I really liked what he had to say. my family and I will be voting for him! By: Jack
Posted Date: 10/13/2012 I really appreciate how invested Felipe is in our community. I think it is hard to find men with integrity these days and he really has proven that over the years. By: Michael M
Posted Date: 10/13/2012 I appreciate his views on Education! Children are our future!! VOTE FOR RODRIGUEZ! By: Jen C
Posted Date: 10/13/2012 Felipe you have my vote! By: Sofia Lozano
Posted Date: 10/13/2012 Go felipe! All the hard work is about to pay off
. Jay matos is a super hero . He does it all and gets it all done By: Jaytee
Posted Date: 10/15/2012 Felipe, I am impressed! :) By: Joann
Posted Date: 10/15/2012 Felipe is the right man for the job. By: Anthony