John Williams, an organizer for the Nevada Rural Democratic Caucus introduced Congresswoman Shelley Berkley saying, “I am proud to introduce someone who protects the benefits we earned, the benefits we deserve, someone who stands tall for Nevada veterans and someone soon to be our next senator from Nevada.”
“I am thrilled to be in Mesquite to talk about what is at stake for Nevada’s middle class families and to protect Medicare and Social Security and to keep the promises we have made to our veterans,” said Berkley.
“While I am fighting for the middle class in Mesquite and across Nevada, Senator Dean Heller wants to turn Medicare over to profit hungry private insurance companies, continue tax breaks for Wall Street corporations that ship jobs overseas, and give tax payer subsidies to big oil companies that are making record profits. Senator Heller’s values may be good for Wall Street special interests but are wrong for Mesquite working families.”
Berkley, (D-NV) candidate for Nevada's second Senate seat, spoke before a full house of supporters at the Mesquite Senior Center on Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 17. Berkley is running against Dean Heller (R-NV). Berkley introduced herself to the audience before discussing the contrasts between her and her opponent, then opened the floor to questions from the audience.
Born in New York City, Berkley’s family moved to Las Vegas when she was in high school. Her grandparents were immigrants and her father was a long time waiter at the Sands in Las Vegas. She said her father was limited in his job prospects because of his lack of education. But he was also a World War II veteran who instilled in her a passion about jobs and veterans. Her husband was also an Army veteran and her family has a history of standing up for the country.
Berkley said when she got into politics, she learned that veterans needed a champion and she took on the challenge. “I saw that veterans had a serious need for good health care and I began to fight for them." In Nevada, she obtained 147 acres of land from the federal government for a new veteran’s hospital. "It didn’t cost taxpayers a cent,” she said.
“After 9/11, I was speaking to a group of World War II vets and they told me that if the country needed them to help fight
the war in the Middle East, they were ready to fight for our country,” said Berkley.
“I knew I would always fight for veterans.
Heller, on the other hand, voted against even providing vouchers for homeless veterans.”
She began to discuss the differences between her and her opponent, often to the applause of the audience. “Heller voted twice to end Medicare as we know it,” she said. “A study done by AARP and the Wall Street Journal said Paul Ryan’s budget proposal, which Heller supports, will put insurance companies squarely between seniors and health care. I am also opposed to privatizing social security. Imagine what would have happen if all your retirement had been locked up in the stock market when it crashed.”
Another hot button topic that Berkley mentioned was equal pay for equal work for women. “Heller voted five times against equal pay for women. As much as 51 percent of households are headed by women and working women should get equal pay. I support that, Heller does not.”
Berkley said she was able to go to college on Pell grants and student loans. “Had I not had that opportunity, I wouldn’t be standing before you today. I voted for increasing Pell grants for our students and cutting interest rates on student loans. Heller voted against aiding college students.” Berkley said Heller also voted nine times to give tax breaks to big oil companies while voting no on education.
Asked about the Republican claim by Heller that the White House mischaracterized the incident at Benghazi, Libya where Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three others were killed, Berkley said, “My thoughts and prayers go out to the loved ones of the four Americans killed in the tragic attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Libya. I condemn in the strongest terms these senseless acts of violence that claimed these innocent lives.
"With the threat of terrorism still prevalent across the globe, I applaud the Obama Administration for taking action to investigate the cause of this act to make sure it never happens again. However, with U.S. personnel still risking their lives overseas, we should avoid turning a national security issue into a political issue rather than working together to insure the safety of all Americans stationed abroad.”
“I have worked my whole life,” said Berkley “to insure all people get a fair chance. None of the issues facing us are insurmountable. All we have to do is do the right thing.”