Carson City – Democrat Tina Davis-Hersey ran for Nevada’s Senate District 16 in the 2018 election. Patricia Ackerman was the Democratic candidate for Assembly District 39, and while Democrats won almost every state-wide seat on Election Day, the Nevada blue wave did not wash over traditional Republican strongholds in rural northern Nevada, but both Ackerman and Davis-Hersey ran competitive door-to-door campaigns, and like other first-time female candidates across the nation who ran for elected office in 2018, they look to the future with a renewed sense of civic and political activism.
Davis-Hersey and Ackerman joined Kristin Simons in the studio recently to discuss what they’ve been up to since election night.
Davis-Hersey and Ackerman were motivated to run, in their own ways, after the 2016 election.
“My daughter and I actually had, she was living in DC at the time,” Davis-Hersey said. “We had plans to attend Hillary Clinton’s inauguration. You know the first woman president, we were going to go and be part of that. What We ended up doing instead was go to the Women’s March because of Trump and how horrified we were that this actually happened and that kind of got me engaged in, you know when I came home looking at things locally and what was happening and I wanted to be part of more. Helping to change things and helping to keep things progressing here at home, so that’s definitely one of the reasons that I got involved and decided to throw my hat in the ring and run for office.”
Davis-Hersey didn’t immediately decide running for office was for her, but after a year or so decided to run to challenge candidates who usually ran unopposed.
The women’s march also played a role in Ackerman running for office.
“Went to the Women’s March in LA, then right after and then got involved in just about 24/7 activism and that led to the community starting to know who I was,” Ackerman said. “And the community’s really what got behind me and said, ‘Why don’t you run?’ for the exact reason that you just stated Tina. There are too many seats that have not had any opposition, have not had Democrats running and that had to stop.”
Ackerman said after the journey of being a candidate for office, the progress doesn’t stop there.
“And going forward now, I believe completely that everything that we did, Tina, all of our sisters that we’ve gotten to know who have bonded who have run, we have a movement that is not going to stop,” Ackerman said. “We have created an energy and a force going forward that this is just the continuation. We did not cease in this.”
“I completely agree,” Davis-Hersey said. “We’ve found out that we do have an impact in what happens and I fully believe that everything that we did as, you know, women candidates new to the whole political scene. We really had an impact in getting the higher level constitutional office Democrats elected and across the state. You know it was talking to people, getting people engaged, getting people out to vote which made that happen and we were part of that and I’m so proud of that, win or lose. I mean it made me feel challenged and like wow this is something I can really be proud of.”
Although they didn’t win their races, Ackerman believes her and Davis-Hersey’s campaigns being run cleanly contributed to respect they gained during this time.
“We won a lot of hearts and a lot of respect,” Ackerman said. “I know that Tina and I both ran campaigns that maintained a high level of civility, neither one of us went negative. When I was going to the doors, I heard repeatedly people saying I’m so fed up with the negative campaigning. That they don’t want to vote for either one of the candidates because of that and clearly they vote, but people are disgusted and fed up with it.So, the fact that we ran very clean campaigns with a high level of civility, I think we are setting a precedence and that’s why we won the hearts and the respect of people.”
The election is over, but life goes on for both candidates. Davis-Hersey is using this experience as a building block for personal and community growth.
“But, I think, you know, going forward like I said, I loved the challenge, I love the education that I got from all of this and it’s made me a better person and I want to continue that personal growth and the movement forward in contributing to my community and making it a better place,” Davis-Hersey said. “And I hope to stay in contact with all the people I met and keep that momentum going, like Patricia said we made so many contacts and so many friends, that we can be a force to be reckoned with in making change happen, progressive change for Nevada and, you know, moving us forward in the 21st century.”
Ackerman’s said that if people want change, they need to be involved.
“Yes. You know one thing that I didn’t speak about which I think is very important that I learned, in the year, well it’s almost been 22 months since I contemplated running for office, my husband and I got very involved locally with planning meetings commissioners, etc. and in my district and we spent most of our time in Douglas County because that’s where we reside,” Ackerman said. “I found that the majority of the people who showed up at these meetings are conservatives. I’m going to be going out there with my soft, gentle boot and I’m going to be booting as many people as I possibly can, metaphorically speaking, because if you want change, if you want more balance in your communities, you got to show up. You have to get engaged in your communities. You have to come to these meetings and take ownership of your communities.”