Photos: Trevor Bexon
Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) hosted a roundtable meeting with Latino community leaders in Sparks yesterday morning, and then a town-hall-style meeting at the California Building later in the afternoon.
This was the candidate’s 11th visit to Nevada during his presidential campaign. He took the opportunity to share his personal story beginning with his parent’s fight against racial redlining and emphasizing his commitment to working across party lines and ideological differences, to address issues such as climate change, immigration, mass incarceration, mental health problems, school shootings and the housing crisis.
At the meeting with the Latino community, he answered questions on college affordability and immigration laws in regards to protecting dreamers.
Reno City Councilmember Jenny Brekhus introduced the presidential hopeful to the assembled crowd of around 300 people, sharing from her perspective “as someone who focused her whole life on local politics… [Booker’s] the right mayor with the right experiences.”
She emphasized the importance of partnerships between the local and federal government, and Booker’s commitment to the community.
The senator spoke with This Is Reno and reiterated how his mayoral experience in Newark, New Jersey’s largest city gives him experience and perspective he intends to use to unify voters.
“I’m running because I think this country needs healing more than anything,” he said. “We’re tearing each other apart. We’ve got to find a way to bring us together so we can accomplish the big things from dealing with climate change to the housing crisis.”
He shared how, during his mayorship, Newark faced a similar housing crisis to Reno. His housing plan includes creating more resources for communities to build affordable housing.
“We’ve got to make far more robust the streams of resources that help communities like this one to build affordable housing,” he said. “Then we’ve got to give renters a real shot. We have a mortgage user seduction for people in homes, but my plan calls for a rental refundable tax credit for people that are paying more than a third of their income in rent.
“This is one of the biggest things we have to do is get people in secure housing.”
As for Yucca Mountain, a concern to Nevada voters, he told This Is Reno he is “a hundred percent against the federal government imposing waste upon [the mountain]. It flies in the face of all of our principles and values, which is the self-determination of people.”
Message of unity resonates with attendees
Booker’s emphasis on unity and across the aisle politics was popular with many attendees.
After the event, Linda Steele said, “I was moved by his thoughts of where you come from as where you’re going, and I really like him.”
“My mind’s still open, but he’s at the top of my list.”
She acknowledged, however, the democratic field has many candidates, and she has not decided on which candidate she will vote for in the Nevada caucus.
“My mind’s still open, but he’s at the top of my list. [I’m still not completely decided] because the whole Democratic field is pretty good.”
According to a compilation of polls by Real Clear Politics (https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2020/president/nv/nevada_democratic_presidential_caucus-6866.html), Booker has been trailing in the Nevada polls. He did not make the most recent debates in Los Angeles, but said he remains optimistic.
“It’s not about me, it’s about we,” he said, thanking the crowd for attending “in the last hours of 2019 before we come to the year of change.”
He also joked with the crowd about how his family lives in Southern Nevada, and if his campaign does not win the caucus, “I have to face my mom who lives here.”
The senator is headed to Iowa for various campaign-related events.
Tabitha Mueller is a freelance writer and multimedia journalist based out of Reno, Nevada. She is fascinated by storytelling, place, and the intersection of narrative and data analysis and holds a bachelor’s degree in Geography and English and American Literatures from Middlebury College. When she is not tracking down a story or listening to podcasts, you can find her hiking Nevada’s gorgeous terrain, perusing local bookstores, playing Quidditch, and discovering Reno’s hidden stories.