One of the most uncommon things you can hear from someone in southern Nevada is that they were born and raised here. I take pride in saying that Las Vegas has always been my home. Outside of the Las Vegas Strip are hardworking families who contribute so much to their communities. We also have picturesque parks and endless opportunities to get outdoors and explore — though not everyone experiences these the same.
Growing up, I loved to play outside with my friends. We’d often go to the basketball courts to practice for my future career as an NBA player. (It didn’t quite work out that way.) When I would come back home, my mom would listen to my breathing to see if she could hear wheezing in my chest. Like many other kids in my community, I suffered from asthma. Sometimes at night, when I would struggle breathing, my mom would rush me to the hospital to get a new inhaler and take a breathing treatment.
After graduating from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, I had the chance to work for U.S. Senator Harry Reid in his Las Vegas office, where I led outreach to public land groups. I had spent my whole life in Las Vegas, but never realized there were public lands in my backyard. I knew of the Red Rock Casino, but never knew that Red Rock Canyon existed.
It was also during this time that I learned that many of my breathing challenges may have been linked to the heavy pollution I experienced in my community. Low-income communities like the one I grew up in tend to be exposed to more pollution than affluent communities. But it doesn’t have to — and shouldn’t — be that way.
One of the ways we can advocate for equitable access to fresh air is through the transition to electric vehicles. Transportation is the biggest source of pollution in the world, and this disproportionately impacts racial minority communities who often live near major highways and roads. And despite being greatly affected by the effects of pollution, these communities aren’t always given a seat at the table to share their stories. I hope to change that.
As a government affairs manager for WRA, I have the opportunity to go to the Nevada Legislature and advocate for laws that will protect all communities. Something that I am excited to champion this upcoming session is a medium and heavy-duty vehicles bill drafted by WRA that assemblyman Howard Watts is sponsoring. This bill will provide incentives to Nevada businesses and citizens transitioning to electric medium and heavy-duty vehicles. Making this transition will greatly reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, which will lead to cleaner air for all Nevadans — a fundamental right for every person, regardless of race, education, or income.
I get to wake up every day knowing I’m doing something to protect the state that I love and ensure a healthy future for the next generation of Nevadans — one where you’ll hear more people proudly proclaim, “I was born and raised here.”