Sisolak, Giunchigliani trade barbs in televised debate

KLAS Channel 8

In an image from video, Clark County Commissioners Steve Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani square off in a Democratic gubernatorial debate televised on KLAS Channel 8, Monday, May 21, 2018.

Monday, May 21, 2018 | 9 p.m.

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Gun policy, campaign finance and education funding were some of the main issues discussed Monday night during a televised Democratic gubernatorial debate.

KLAS Channel 8 invited Clark County Commissioners Steve Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani to debate questions from moderators Steve Sebelius and Denise Valdez. The candidates were chosen based on campaign benchmarks: raising at least $50,000 not in personal funds with at least 25 percent coming from inside Nevada, and having a campaign headquarters, staff and website.

Regarding campaign finance, both said they had not taken money from the National Rifle Association. They both said they were not influenced by donations.

Giunchigliani, who took in more than $830,000 in contributions in 2017 versus the more than $2.5 million raised by Sisolak, criticized Sisolak for taking money from a gun club, which he said involved an individual owner who has voiced support for reasonable gun restrictions. Sisolak pointed out that Giunchigliani took money from strip clubs for her gubernatorial campaign, while he has not taken money from either strip clubs or brothels.

Asked about safety in Nevada eight months after the Oct. 1 shooting on the Strip killed 58 people, Giunchigliani said officials need to make sure buildings and codes allow for emergency services to access properties in cases of emergency. She pointed to term-limited Gov. Brian Sandoval’s school safety group and said she’d continue to convene groups to look at school safety.

Sisolak said the state needs to immediately enforce its stalled gun background check law, which Gov. Brian Sandoval and Attorney General Adam Laxalt are facing a lawsuit over. The FBI told Nevada that it would not enforce the checks as stated in the law. Sisolak also voiced support for an assault rifle ban and prohibition on bump stocks, devices used in the Oct. 1 shooting to increase the rate of gunfire.

Both were asked why they voted four times against proposed sales tax increases for police, then voted for it in November 2016 when the Raiders stadium deal emerged.

Sisolak said that the football team did not trigger his support and that Sheriff Joe Lombardo had different priorities when he took office than his predecessor. He said Lombardo assured him money would go toward new hires in neighborhoods and not just on the Strip.

Giunchigliani said they were critical about law enforcement building up a reserve rather than putting all of those resources to hiring officers. She said she didn’t support the $750 million stadium deal.

Nevada’s Democratic candidates for governor want to make education funding a priority but differ on how to get there, another major theme of the debate. The candidates were asked how they’d fund teacher pay raises and raise revenue for education. Neither promised not to raise taxes.

Sisolak said that all options should be on the table and that he’d convene a bipartisan group of past governors to find solutions. He said the process for funding schools needs to be changed. Giunchigliani said the state can do more to reduce class sizes, fix the funding formula and make sure marijuana taxes go to education.

Sisolak closed by saying he hopes that he made his priorities clear regarding education, jobs, and health care and that he believes in a party that is inclusive and not defined by labeling someone.

Giunchigliani said she wants to be the education governor and that Nevada shouldn‘t just work for the well-connected.

Monday night’s debate can be viewed on KLAS-TV’s . The station will host and broadcast a second gubernatorial debate, with Republicans Adam Laxalt, Jared Fisher and Dan Schwartz, at 6 p.m. May 29.

Other candidates in the Democratic gubernatorial primary include John Bonaventura, Asheesh Dewan, David Jones and Henry Thorns.