Battle Born Dems Toastmasters hosted its first debate for the Democratic candidates in the race for Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District last Wednesday at the Sparks Branch Library. Four candidates participated, including Patricia Ackerman, Clint Koble, Ed Cohen and Rick Shepherd.
The quartet debated in a format similar to a standard Toastmasters meeting, first introducing themselves and providing background, then answering questions within a four to six-minute time limit. The debate topics ranged from how to defeat incumbent Mark Amodei (R-Carson City) to healthcare, gun control and electability.
After the initial question and answer period, audience members took their turn at providing the questions. This section allowed for two-minute responses on topics that included Nevada’s ranking on education, campaign finance reform, actions for the first 100 days in office, strategies to debate Mark Amodei, and what policies and issues that run counter to the interests of constituents they would attempt to address.
In a group interview with This Is Reno, candidates had this to say about their performances at the debate:
“I spoke about the issues that are the most important to me. My style, if you will, is to be an absorber and a listener. And I noticed that the other three candidates who are running really enjoy talking. My answers are shorter. They’re more to the point. They’re more concise about what it is that I want to fight for. And so I feel good about what I communicated. I think I conveyed to the audience where I stand and what I want to do once I get into Congress. I do feel good about it, but it’s tiring. It’s certainly tiring.”
“I think I did well because I talked a lot about the kitchen table issues and my plan on how to build Nevada’s future. It’s nice to say, ‘I want this, I want that.’ But how are you going to approach it getting on the committees that I want, like education and labor, for example? How can I affect Title I funding, or how I can affect labor laws? How I can affect a new farm bill for farmers or rural communities, rural entrepreneurship? Those are the things that are kitchen table issues, you know, across the state. Those are the things that I want to keep focusing on. It’s nice to tell people who you’re against, but it’s even more important to tell people what you’re for and who you’re for. And I thought I did well at getting that point across.”
“You know, it was a great experience for me because I haven’t done anything like this before. But it was great to let some of the passions out and explain to people why I’m doing this, and why I’m the electable candidate here. To talk about one of the things that was not talked about here, except by me, was how are going to win in this district? We can talk about how we agree, we need to talk about [that]. We need to find a solution to healthcare, and immigration, and climate change all that. And what happened here tonight, everybody, we all agreed about those same type of things…..Question, the only reason to have this thing is to select the candidate who can win. We haven’t had a Democrat win this district since it was created. Most of them have lost by 10 to 20 points, never including the guy who ran last time. He was very proud that he lost Washoe County. He said he got to 49 percent. That’s the most Democratic district that we have, and he didn’t even win that! I like the guy by the way. But it’s all about who’s gonna win and I hope I articulated for the group tonight how the only way we’re going to do it…”
“I think I did great. I think we had wonderful conversations. The other panel members, they are good people. I’ve interacted with them numerous times. I feel comfortable with them and it shows in my performance. There’s no animus I believe across any of the candidates. It’s great to feel that we’re all working toward a lot of the same or very similar goals. It feels good. It feels like when you work as a team as opposed to when you’re working as opponents. As much as we still are opponents obviously, but there’s no backstabbing. There’s no shit-talking. It’s just the issues and presenting viewpoints. I couldn’t ask for anything better that.”
This event is likely first of many gatherings of the 2020 election season where northern Nevada Democrats will have a chance to decide who will be their party’s standard bearer against five-term incumbent Republican Congressman Mark Amodei.
Don Dike-Anukam is a Reno native attending college in northern Nevada. He has been involved in activist politics for 15 years on and off, and has been involved in multiple campaigns in multiple positions in that time. He also was a college radio political, news, and talk-show host covering a range of stories from hostage standoffs, fires, interviews, and public speeches.