Photo courtesy of Voices for Planned Parenthood.

Lucy Flores, Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor (center), poses with members of the Voices for Planned Parenthood at the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center Rotunda on Monday, Sept. 29. The VOX members support the issues that Flores advocates, such as affordable healthcare and access to birth control.

By Jacob Solis

Lucy Flores, Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, visited the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center last Monday for an informal meet and greet with students. The event was organized by the Young Democrats, a political interest club at the University of Nevada, Reno to raise awareness for Flores and the upcoming state midterm elections.

The lieutenant governor is the president of the state senate. The position holder has the power to break ties in the state senate, and takes the governor’s place if the governor can’t fulfill his or her duties.

Flores was among the first Latinas to be elected to the State Assembly in 2010. She represents District 28 in Las Vegas. Flores won the Democratic primary in June, making her the first Hispanic candidate for lieutenant governor.

Attendees showed support for Flores’ candidacy and lined up after the speech to get pictures and a few questions with the candidate.

“Lucy Flores is the most phenomenal candidate I have ever seen in the state of Nevada,” said Maddie Poore, senior. “I know that she has the capabilities to change the state for the better and really represent what Nevada’s constituencies look like.”

During her visit, Flores emphasized the need for a better education system in Nevada and expressed concern that the current administration has increased the budget, especially in the Department of Corrections while simultaneously cutting the education budget.

Nevada’s education budget was cut by $1 billion during the recession and the state has only recovered half the funds since the cut happened. As lieutenant governor, Flores would be able to introduce three pieces of legislation during each session and has promised to find ways to increase that funding.

Where the funding will come from is still unclear, as Flores does not support The Education Initiative, also known as the margin tax, and is critical of her opponent Mark Hutchison’s plan to tax mining to fund education. Flores has previously supported a “broad-based tax plan” during her tenure in the State Assembly, but the measure failed in 2011, and she has been hesitant to give the voters any more details throughout her campaign.

During her visit, Flores stressed the importance of political involvement among young people.

“At the end of the day, you get the representation that you vote for,” said Flores. “If people, especially young people, are not voting and are not engaged, then you’re going to end up with representatives who maybe don’t understand the issues that young people are facing.”

The Young Democrats echoed this sentiment.

“The midterm elections always have lower voter turnout when they are arguably the most important elections,” said club President Jade Wright. “The candidates running can directly benefit the students and it’s crucial that students vote in an educated manner.”

Young voters between the ages of 18 and 24 have consistently voted at lower rates than all other age groups, according to a Census Bureau report from April of this year. The data went on to show that although young people made up about 21 percent of eligible voters, they only comprised 15 percent of the actual voting population in 2012.

In midterm elections, such as the upcoming November elections, young voter turnout is even lower. As Census Bureau data showed, only 24 percent of eligible voters between 18 and 24 made it to the polls in 2010.

The conversation ended with Flores addressing the futility some voters feel when the candidates they vote for don’t win their elections.

“Even if you end up with representatives that don’t entirely represent your interests, the fact that you’re active and recognized as an important voting block means that people are going to pay attention to your issues, and that’s important,” Flores said. “The only way that you accomplish that is by voting.”

Jacob Solis can be reached at rhernandez@sagebrush.unr.edu.