With November’s election behind us, we can now finally relax into the warm and happy season of fall and winter holidays. Miners will be working hard to make sure that year-end production numbers are strong while managers maximize the quickly approaching end of this year’s budget. Families and friends will gather at celebratory places, both near and far. If we’re all lucky, we can make it to the end of the year without having to talk politics at all. But if the subject arises, I would suggest disarming any potential tension with something that every Nevadan can agree on: Gov. Brian Sandoval has served this state well.
Eight years ago, Brian Sandoval was elected as Nevada’s 29th governor and inherited an economic disaster the likes of which Nevada hadn’t seen in decades. Nevada’s unemployment rate was a staggering 13.5 percent. Median household income had fallen more than $10,000 a year. Foreclosures devastated our families and our neighborhoods. Lawmakers had cut the fat from state agencies and were starting into the bone.
By every measure, times were hard. But at the inaugural ceremony on a cold January day, Sandoval insisted that Nevadans would not be defeated. He gave us all the prescient reminder that would eventually define his tenure:
“We must have the optimism to remind each other that Nevada’s long history is one of opportunities realized. Of succeeding even when others said we couldn’t.”
The governor’s unrelenting optimism earned him the moniker “Governor Sunny” among certain corners of the political press. But this optimism translated into policy, and Sandoval’s policies have delivered for the state and for Nevadans. He saw us through those tough times, and Nevada again prospers. Unemployment today is down to 3.5 percent, a figure as surprisingly low as 2011’s was surprisingly high. Nevada’s median income is more than $55,000 a year. Eight years later, the 186,000 jobs Nevada lost have been replaced by more than 270,000, and more are coming.
Sandoval has been a true champion for Nevada, and that included the mining industry. When he created the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, mining was recognized as a pillar of the Nevada economy, one Nevada would do well to grow. When six state senators from his own party attempted to tax mines right out of business, he stood in their way. When nature presented challenges to the landscape, whether via fire or drought, he turned to the mining industry to participate in finding solutions. We worked together to address the challenges posed by federal land withdrawals and other onerous proposals. Sandoval recognized mining’s importance to the state as a whole, and the rural communities in particular, and stood with us as a partner.
It is in this spirit of partnership that we welcome Steve Sisolak as Sandoval’s successor. New challenges are ahead for the Silver State, and, as always, Nevada’s miners are already working hard for Nevada. For 105 years, the Nevada Mining Association has been a resource for Nevada governors, and we will continue to share our expertise and experience.
For now, as holiday parties fill up your calendar, and somebody brings up politics, welcome it as an opportunity to look back on the last eight years and be thankful for the great work Sandoval has done for all of Nevada.
“Sandoval has been a true champion for Nevada, and that included the mining industry.” — Dana Bennett Nevada Mining Association