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Biden beefs up state campaign staff, adds Nevada women


As election day looms closer, former Vice President and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden is building out his Nevada campaign team. Late last month, the Biden campaign announced the addition of three Nevada women to its team here in the Silver State.

Alana Mounce was announced as state director. She was executive director of the state Democratic Party. Prior to that, she worked for the Democratic National Committee’s chairman, Tom Perez, and the Hillary Clinton campaign in Colorado.

Biden’s new coordinated campaign director is Shelby Wiltz, who is the caucus director for the state Democratic Party. She’s also a Hillary Clinton campaign veteran. She and Mounce helped Nevada Democrats sweep almost every statewide office during the midterms.

Nevada State Sen. Yvanna Cancela has been brought on board to act as a senior adviser. Prior to her election to the Legislature in 2016, she was the political director for the influential culinary workers union, UNITE HERE’s Local 226.

This Is Reno spoke with Wiltz and Mounce about the campaign’s plans in Nevada leading up to Nov. 3 and the significance of having local women at the helm.

“We’re excited that we have women leadership in Nevada,” Mounce said. “Women are the backbone of the Democratic Party. And you know that Joe Biden has said that he would like his vice-presidential nominee to be a woman. But looking at our leadership in the state, we have Shelby Wiltz—the coordinative director—and State Senator Yvanna Cancela is our other senior advisor. It’s no surprise, because Nevada has a long record of electing women in leadership—with both of our senators being women, being a state that elected the first majority-female state legislature. So, I think women are excellent political operatives and professionals.”

Nevada Women's March 2020, Ty O'Neil
Joe Biden’s Nevada campaign leadership, made up of women, acknowledges that Nevada politics has a long track record of electing women, who, they say, are excellent political operatives. Image: Nevada Women’s March 2020, Ty O’Neil

Mounce said she believes Biden is a leader with a “proven track record of helping people” and will be able to “build broad coalitions of supporters from northern Nevada to southern Nevada and all of the counties in between to make sure we defeat Donald Trump.”

She said a part of the strategy on the ground in Nevada will be localizing national campaign priorities released by Biden so they can speak to Nevadans about them.

“As you know, a Nevadan in Nye County versus Washoe County to Clark County—everyone has a unique issue and perspective or story that is important to them,” Mounce said.

Wiltz said the campaign has thus far done a good job making sure it’s organizing in every single precinct in the state—work she said the campaign has been doing since the caucus back in February.

“I think that our sort of central point is making sure that we are connected with every single person who wants to have a role in this campaign—and that we are talking to every single voter, no matter what their background is, no matter what their story is, and really making sure everybody’s voice is heard and that every voter understands what Joe Biden is going to do to support them, their families and the communities they care about,” Wiltz said. “For us, it’s really a statewide approach, and we’re going to fight and earn every single vote in every single county.”

Wiltz acknowledged that running a campaign during the era of COVID-19 does present challenges, especially considering that traditional tactics like door knocking can’t be used right now.

“We are organizing in an unprecedented time—but the important part is that we’re still organizing,” Wiltz said. “We have not skipped a beat…We’re going to work hard to have a large digital presence, and we’re also connecting with voters on the phone, connecting with voters and volunteers by text.

“And we’re also getting really creative…We just hosted virtual ice cream socials to continue to highlight and build camaraderie and excitement and engagement among our volunteers. We’re hosting weekly phone banks and talking to communities and constituencies of voters that we’re going to need in November. We’re having AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) phone banks and Spanish-language phone banks. And we’re doing all of that work virtually. We’re also hosting lots of town halls and virtual gatherings so voters can hear from candidates and volunteers can get connected to communities—whether that’s a community in their neighborhood or a community with people who share the issues and the values they have.”

Mounce pointed to Biden’s history of organizing in the state during past elections and said she believes the strong state party infrastructure will aid in getting his campaign messages out to Nevadans ahead of what Wiltz referred to as “the most important election of our lifetimes.”

For those who may want to get involved with the campaign, Wiltz recommends visiting the state Democratic Party’s website.

“You can sign up to get connected with our team virtually, online,” she said. “We have virtual events in every area, every community across Nevada.”

This Is Reno was unable to speak with Sen. Cancela prior to the publication of this story, as she has been busy with Nevada’s 31st special legislative session

Dr. Angie Taylor speaks to a crowd gathered in February 2020 during a Joe Biden campaign stop. Image: Ty O’Neil

School board vice president endorses Biden in campaign commercial

Another Nevada woman who has come out in support of Biden is Washoe County School District Vice President Dr. Angie Taylor, who recently appeared in a commercial promoting his campaign. In the commercial, Taylor talks about being a breast cancer survivor and her hopes that Biden will win the election and work to expand the Affordable Care Act created under the Obama administration.

“When you go through something like breast cancer, you meet other people who are breast cancer sisters,” Taylor said. “You’re in the fight together…It’s a tough journey regardless—but my experience wasn’t quite as challenging from a medical care standpoint as another friend of mine who got diagnosed shortly after I did, because she didn’t have insurance. And that’s not fair. Your battle is tough enough as it is. It shouldn’t be tougher because you don’t have insurance—not in the best country in the world, not in the richest country in the world.”

Taylor said she believes it will be important for Biden going forward to continue to build the case for himself as a better, more qualified candidate than Trump.

“It’s got to be more than ‘not Trump,’ right?” she said. “People have to have a reason to vote for someone and not just a reason to vote against someone else.”

Taylor said she sees Biden’s ability to “connect with and relate to everyday people” as among his strong suits.

“That’s a difficult but necessary leadership skill,” she said. “I can’t imagine what it’s like to lead such a country, with over 300 million people who are all so different and have different backgrounds and experiences…I think it’s really important, in my opinion, to have a leader who understands the importance of uniting the country.”

Unity is something Taylor thinks will be of the utmost importance as the country continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and social unrest resulting from police killings of Black people.

“I think regardless of party or race or gender or socio-economic status…anything like that, we have to know that we’re all in the same boat,” she said. “We need to be together. We fight so much stronger…I think part of how we fell back into COVID going in the wrong direction is that we didn’t attack this thing together. I mean, we started it that way. But then, after everyone kind of got quarantine weary or whatever, it got divisive. It got to be about parties, which I didn’t understand, by the way—because COVID doesn’t care what party you’re in…Now we’re there behind the eight ball again—and that impacts lives, man. That impacts lives.” 

Jeri Chadwell
Jeri Chadwellhttp://thisisreno.com
Jeri Chadwell came to Reno from rural Nevada in 2004 to study anthropology at the University of Nevada, Reno. In 2012, she returned to the university for a master’s degree in journalism. She is the former associate and news editor of the Reno News & Review and is a recipient of first-place Nevada Press Association awards for investigative and business reporting. Jeri is passionate about Nevada’s history, politics and communities.




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