Bad on Politics #7: Yvanna Cancela
Hi Everyone. Welcome back about on politics I'm Grace Atwood and I'm Becca Freeman and just as a reminder about on politics is our monthly bonus episode with important political content. We just feel like leading up to the election. The stakes are too high here. So we are talking to the experts because we're not experts to get you guys answers to your questions and educate us all the important stuff and today we are. So. Excited because we're being joined by Ivana Can Selah, and she represents Nevada's tenth district in the State Senate. She was appointed to the seat in December two, thousand sixteen and became the first Latina to ever serve in the chamber her work during the two thousand seventeen session focused on drug cost transparency, and increasing access to affordable health care and as a first term legislator, she chaired the Natural Resource Committee and served on Commerce and Labor, and when not in session Yvonna works the Executive Director of the immigrant. Workers Citizenship Project she leads the state's only organization to offer free help with naturalization applications. She's also graduate of Northwestern University and twenty ten with a degree in communications, and she is a first generation college student and the proud daughter of Cuban emigrants. Welcome. Thank you. Thanks for having me and thanks for doing the series. It's really important. It's as much for us as it is for anyone else like it especially last year going into the primary as we were. So confused with so many candidates that I feel like this election cycle has only gotten more confusing. So we are so grateful to people like you to come on and break everything down for us so that we can be as informed as possible. Yeah we're so high I, will do my best. Whereas heavier here, we wanted to start off with some introductory questions. So We'd love to know a little bit more about your background and what made you decide to run for Senate in the first place. This is not something I about as a little girl I didn't have. Pictures of women politicians he stood along my all as I was growing up. I've always been politically interested but never thought being elected official would be something I did. I spent six years working as the Political Director for a major labor union here in Las Vegas and in two thousand sixteen I was really ready to have my mic drop year thought I would do everything I could to make sure that Hillary Clinton became president I would leave the union at the end of the year spent some time in Miami with my family. and. Then start law school in the fall of two, thousand seventeen and somewhere in the middle there was the potential to Wolf Auden olive farm in Tuscany, which sounded really exciting's I had this whole plan for what I live like an Wolfing for folks who don't know is when you work for room and board the we're all I was GONNA ask I didn't know. Yeah I didn't either but it's a thing and it's whole community of. Folks who will have you on their farm and you work get remembered anyway I was ready to have this plan and then trump became president and the things that I knew I really cared about a immigrant rights worker's rights women's reproductive rights. We're all going to be on the frontline of his chopping block and it felt I felt a moral imperative to do something different that will thing on an olive farm was not going to be. Not, GonNa make me feel really great when I went to bed at night and there was an opportunity to be appointed to the state Senate in it felt especially important because the federal government was going to be grid locked in a way that perhaps it had been before and was going to leave a lot of responsibility the states to take on more to take on things that maybe in the past states had not. Dowd really deeply into, and that was it was a tremendous opportunity and I wasn't sure if I'd end up deciding to run for office. I was appointed to serve out the rest of the term, and then in two thousand eighteen, I decided that I wanted to running for a full term. So I'm not up again till twenty twenty two but it's it's a life changing opportunity and what's been your proudest moment since taking off. Good. Question. I'm a big sister threw big brothers. Big Sisters I've been with my little since she was thirteen. She's mean she's awesome and she's been in foster care since she was eleven and when she was a junior in high school, she came to me and said. I don't hominy go to college. Well, we're GONNA figure this out and. Thanks to her asking that question and being willing to step out of her comfort zone testify before the board of regents and because she told her story to a number of folks who are willing to. Again, we became the thirty third state to pass the tuition waiver program for kids in foster care. You now have ten years from the time you turn eighteen to enter any of Nevada's higher education institutions at no cost. If you were foster youth by the time, you're thirteen and I'm really proud of that. It's not the it's not a thing that will go on mailers, but it's a thing that I will I'll take with me forever. That's incredible. Yeah. That's wonderful. So you also serve as a senior advisor on the Biden for president campaign. What inspired you to get involved. So I endorse Joe Biden on the day he announced his candidacy i. I felt really strongly about that I was the only elected official at endorsed him when he announced and I've been riding with Biden for lack of a better description since then when the primary season went was underway. I had a number of candidates call and talk about Nevada was awesome to know that we had such a diverse and energetic field of folks with good ideas to get out of the mess that trumpet graded and one of the people who called was Vice President Biden, and I'll never forget that moment. I was in my office in the legislature it was one of those calls where you're not sure it's real or not. So he starts a conversation we're chatting nee says look I'm. Thinking about Nevada, what do I need to non I said Mr vice-president. I'm going interrupt you for a second. Are Two fundamental things that I want in our next president leadership and loyalty. No one has done more for the Democratic Party. In the field that you have even powered young leaders to rise through the ranks you have helped every candidate who ask for your support and helped us build back the majority in the house and you're the leader for this moment, you can bring our country back together. Your sense of empathy in grace is exactly what we need in the White House so I'm. In whatever you need. I'm in and there was a kind of quiet pause afterward he said, well, thank you so much and I still really believe those things and I think they are more true now than before the pandemic started and he he will go to work on day one not needing instructions on how the executive branch works not Needing Instructions on where the keys are the file cabinet in the White House. As been there, he understands the work that needs to get done. I think that's really important and tell me a little bit about what is the role that you see a battleground state like Nevada playing in this election and what are things like on the ground there. So being about ground state means that you can't watch TV or? Stream something without getting an advertisement from some politician. It also means that there's a lot of work to be done to ensure that voters get out and not only understand the importance of voting for Joe. Biden but they understand how to vote and our job is a campaign is to do the work to answer questions about the Biden. Harris Administration. In their policies, what their vision for the country is also answer questions about whether or not you can mail in your ballot. Shin Day whether or not you can mail in ballot or if you have to go to person all of the misinformation that has been disseminated largely from the president himself as created a lot of confusion about voting and those questions are really important across the country but especially in a battleground state where we actively see. The other side working to suppress the vote and is there a way that people can volunteer help out with with swaying battleground states if they aren't from that state? Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes I love this question There are lots of ways to get involved. The don't require you being in Nevada or any other battleground state. One is we are hosting phone banks every day you log into your computer and you sit on zoom with other volunteers while making calls into Nevada and one of the I get asked a lot about whether or not. This is a good tactic. wanna-be silver linings there are silver linings to people being. At home as a result of the pandemic is that people are picking up their phones more and they're more willing to have conversations that may be they otherwise wouldn't have. So phone begging his become a really productive or more productive. This cycle than has been in other cycles, and if you just go to envy dams dot com dash events, you'll see all of our different Bailey events in also send text messages. So. If you don't like talking on the phone, you can download an APP and we'll get you texture to Nevada to make sure that they know where to go on election day you'll send them links to how to find their polling location It's actually very it's very easy to do, and if you're interested in helping on anything else maybe you're an excellent copywriter, you want to help us with social media tweets. There's a form on envy dams, DOT COM, you can fill out. During what we call late help, which is any anyone who has something that they'd to contribute to the campaign we can put them to work. That's amazing and I. I don't know if you know this but is it the same every battleground state that if you go to that state's democratic, party website that you can register tech banker make calls in a state you don't live in. Yes and I don't know if it's through the state party's website. But if you just go to Joe, Biden dot convert all sorts of different ways that it'll direct you to either stay party websites or state specific. Joe Biden. Websites so I'm hesitant to say through every State party, but there are ways to get involved in every battleground state. Amazing. So, one of the other topics that we really want we're really excited to talk to you more about is down ballot races and talking about not just the presidential race, but also congressional state and local elections. So I think we need a little bit of a government lesson I we do. I definitely took government in high school, but I actually could not answer this question if my life depended on it, can you help us to understand what types of issues are legislated at the state level versus the national level? Yes, and it's a complicated question. So taking high school government and not going to law school or it, it is complicated and having just graduated from. Law School I still struggle to understand this question because the lines are blurry depending on the issue. So generally the federal government legislates federal questions and federal law issues particularly dealing with the federal budget where it becomes murky is that a lot of the federal budget is money that gets redistributed to states. So who represents you in Congress in have a direct effect on issues that are state government Medicaid is a prime example. State sets the parameters for Medicaid outside of the federal mandates committee decisions on which optional programs. For example, we're GONNA find state, but Medicaid is largely federally funded. So there are blurry lines did simplify it the best way to think about it. Is through the example of the roads you drive on if you're in your home and there is a road in front of your house and there's a pothole in it the most likely to fix that awful works in municipal government you live in a city, your city council person you work in a county, your county person if the pipeline under that road is broken, you likely have to go a step above to your state transportation, agency that's an issue that would get regulated and funded by the state. If what you're looking to do is figure out how to live in a totally different area like you wanna live in a Republican district instead of democratic. District. Redistricting issues that also goes to your state legislature, and then if what you're interested in is your Rhode being totally redone in Glitz and glamour you WanNa have roads that now lied to drive on the left side of the road instead of the rights either vice versa that is like a federal issue you want the whole country's loss changed, and so as a state, we deal with everything from taxes to animal trapping and Nevada we meet every other year for one hundred twenty days to deal with those issues. Okay and can you give me some more examples of things that we might not know that are actually legislated at the state level and not the national level? So some things that that came up last session yet whether or not pharmacist can prescribe birth control so that you don't have to go through your doctor. You just go your pharmacist state legislature would make that decision whether or not. There's an increased taxed on things like cigarettes vaping products that goes through a state legislature whether or not. Katie lenders are able to offer three hundred percent interest rate loans are free percent interest rate loans that goes through a state legislature whether or not. There will be rent control or any sort of rent caps or tabs on late fees related to housing or anything related to evictions Baco through. State legislature how fund unemployment. System so that they're able to meet the need of folks for unemployed back goes through a state legislature. Those are some examples of issues that are really relevant right now because of what folks are going results of the pandemic that a state legislature has almost so authority to. Govern on. Okay. I the the the birth control and pharmacists one. I had no idea that's like really wild to me so. Now that we understand a little better kind of wear, the lines are I wanNA. Start at the national level because I know one of the big priorities in this election is to flip the Senate I'm curious. Are there any Senate or even just congressional races at national level that you're watching really closely I'm really watching what's happening in Kentucky and hoping that Mitch McConnell ends up unemployed after the election I would love to see him lose to lose to a tough woman like amy McGrath would be a big deal. There are contests in. North Carolina in Maine that I'm also paying attention to I'm really interested in. What's happening in South Carolina. There was a debate there over the weekend and I thought the Democrat did a really excellent job. So there's a number of Senate, races that I think the Senate in play I would be lying if I didn't admit that I almost have tunnel vision for Nevada politics right now. But definitely keeping a peripheral eye on what's happening across the country in the same way that you text bank, you phone bank at the presidential level. It does that also exist on Senate campaigns like is that a way that you can get involved as well if you're particularly invested in, say getting Mitch McConnell fired. Totally, and there are two ways with that you can get involved in some of the down ballot races. One is to get involved directly with the Democratic Party in that state generally each state runs what's called a coordinated campaign so that when you're talking about Joe Biden Comma Harass, you're also talking about said candidates to the degree there is one. Arizona's a prime example where every chance to pick up a Senate seat. So and then you talked about in congressional offices, any other down ballot contest so that you can text bank for all the Democrats at once you can also, if there are certain issues, you really care about their politically affiliated groups that are running campaigns as well. So if you really care for example about lgbtq equality than. Human Rights Campaign may be a group that you get involved in and they're running tax banks across the country taking the time to figure out which groups are doing work on the issues you care about aligning with them is another way to get involved in the election. Is it too late? That's a question that I've heard other people ask we only have about well less than a month until the election. Is Getting involved. Now going to be helpful. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. There is no such thing as too late when it comes to the election especially because every single vote matters. So getting involved now, getting involved a week from now, all of it makes a difference especially because you could be the conversation that moves voter from saying I'm sitting this one out sank. Get it. This is important and I'm GONNA go vote. So no such thing as too late, and if you schedule it the same way, you would a- conference call or any outing and you put in two hours a week to tax banker phone bank it matters it makes a difference and you can then wake up on November four th the day after the election feeling like you did your part so. Of the national and the State Senate House races what about other down ballot races that we should be? Ourselves on in advance of Election Day. Like on District Attorney for example, definitely all use. Nevada as an example to extrapolate folks across the country should be paying you something. I'm really proud of that. I will forever hold his. A moment of pride is that has the country's first and only majority women legislature are more. Legislature Yeah. It's pretty cool. and. It's a result of a lot of women stepping up and saying, we think we can do this true and we want run in voter saying we agree it's an example of what happens not only when people step up and run for office who maybe had never thought about it before. But also what happens when voters understand the importance of down ballot reaches? Here's the. Temptation to check the box for President Vice President maybe you do federal races and then move on and it's a mistake because the folks who are down ballot oftentimes are making decisions that more closely relate to your day to day life particularly in the judicial races in municipal races and in state legislative races. One of the easiest ways to understand to know who represents you. If, you put into Internet search engine. Who's my legislator Alabama? Nevada most every state has an enter your address site where you can put in your address and find out everyone who represents you at different levels of government and then but those folks into search engine research about them read about the things they care about if you disagree with them. Over someone else if you agree with them, vote for them and also get involved in their campaign because it's likely that they are dealing with them volunteers shortages because more people are going to the top of the ticket races or they're just struggling to gain traction and attention and the very crowded. Ecosystem of candidates and media attention being played, being paid to more top of the ticket races. That's the easiest way to get him to understand who represents you and be involved in those races. But it goes back to this idea of understanding what issues you care about and who has control over them. So if you're really concerned about. Schools where you live then you should be paying a lot of attention to school board races you really want to be. In Justice Reform and folks like district attorney and the judge is on the ballot should be of high priority you up. So looking at the ballot, that way and thinking of what do I care about what power do these folks have over it and filling in your ballot from the bottom up so that you're making sure that you are making your voice heard at every level representation is there a way to get a preview of your ballot? So I I hear you're saying that you can look up who already represents you but in terms of WHO's running, is there somewhere that you can see that in advance I know I've gone into the voting. Booth before and felt totally overwhelmed for I've never heard of any of these people and I usually just vote the ticket because it will say whether they're Democrat or Republican. But frankly I don't know anything about any of these people because I don't have the time to pull out my phone in the voting booth and and look up each and every one of them. I feel the same I was like so relieved when I got my absence ballot and I could like look everyone often like Google them. Yes. So in Nevada sample ballots before about two to three weeks before the election, and that's awesome because you have time to do the. Searches and research on folks. One of the ways that you can, there are lots of different shortcuts you can use to generally understand who candidates are and certainly hardy. Party affiliation is one of them I, for example, when I. When I don't know who race I generally vote for the Democrat because I know that they at the very least align of democratic values, even if we may disagree with certain issues within the Democratic Party. Another way is to find groups that represent your views on issues that are important to you. So if women's reproductive rights are really important to you and planned parenthood generally makes endorsements in races all down the ticket nee role does the same thing if it's really important to you to have a candidate that is or labor justice than unions and AFL CIO also make endorsement. So it's a good way to understand. Do the groups that for the things I care about also see this person is being on our team and it's why endorsements in political campaigns are. So we're GONNA and so in Nevada, do they just send you a sample ballot in advance or do you have to request it? How do you see a sample ballot if your state offers that I'm I, I guess you would go through your elections registrar are. Generally situated at the county level you go through Your County Elections Department or through secretary of state in every state the secretary of state is tasked with a running elections. In Nevada, the county registrar sends out a sample ballot, every registered voter so that you can see what your ballot will look like, and then when you go vote, you take your sample ballot with you match what's on your sample ballot to. The ballot onscreen. That's incredible. Is We don't think new. York does that because I've never received a sample ballot yeah. But that would be so helpful. Yeah. It's one of the things we do really well Nevada's voting. We agreed out a really robust two weeks early voting program or sending out mail in ballots to offer active voters this time around we have same day voter registration so that if you're not registered. To vote you can register we do we do a good job at making elections accessible in Nevada? That's amazing. So one last topic to kind of jump around a little bit that we wanted to talk about was gender and racial representation and politics. So I did a little bit of research last night and saw that seventy nine percent of us. Congress people are white versus sixty percent of the US population twenty. Four percent of us. Congress people are women versus fifty point, five percent of the US population, and especially since you are the first Latina to serve the Nevada state senate I thought you might have some thoughts and opinions on this. So wanted to hear first off from you why it is so important for there to be more women and people of color and elected positions and on how you think we can. Get there I I'm really really proud to be the first let the nine, the state Senate in Nevada I think it's it's something that will be a part of my story for the rest of my life. However, it is also a marker I used to show how important it is for progress to happen as happy relations grow it took two thousand seventeen for there to be let the not in the state. Legislature. Nevada. A really long time considering that knows are almost a third of our states population. So while I'm proud of that, I also use it as a reminder that it's my job to tear the door that was open for me off. It's hinges because it's kind of unacceptable but it took us that long to get here and the reason representation matters reason we need more people of color, we need more diverse. Is that only people who come from diverse backgrounds who've experienced different things in their lives are really capable of being owners of those stories. So no one else can talk about what it means to be transgender in America for example, better than a transgender person end hearing directly from folks are impacted by policies makes a difference because we may not be thinking as legislators. As what happens when we don't translate a certain government website into Spanish? What does that mean for access? What does that mean for communities are all these examples of our went diverse voices are inserted into decision making we make better decisions and I think it's it's great to know that we have more women in. Congress than ever before I. Love that in Nevada we have the first let the US senator, Catherine, Cortez Maskco I, love that we have a majority woman Supreme Court that there are. More women leading our major cities are men they're all these markers of progress in Nevada and across the country and I go back to what Ruth Bader Ginsburg wants talked about when she was asked how many women should there be on the supreme. Court and she said nine why should that be striking to anyone when they're been nine men on there for a long time? All that sad it is. Typically folks are under represented in politics that have the hardest points of entry into politics and. So it's important to not only open up spaces for people who are typically under or not at all represented to be training for running for office to have a support system to run for office and so if you have someone in your network, who you think is a fabulous leader who should be thinking about thinking about running for office don't be afraid to plant those seeds and say I think you're the leader that our city knees I. Think you're the leader that our state needs because. That kind of support really makes a difference as to whether or not a person will decide to even open up their life to think about running for office I know after the twenty sixteen election, I saw a lot of organizations pop up around getting more women to run so like she should run or other similar organizations to those also exist for other groups, like for instance, for transgender people or blacker or Latin people. Yes. There are groups across the country based on ringing in diverse voices. And, they're doing work on the ground in communities that. Have overrepresentation of White Weiss says that may have a majority black population I. Think for example of the work that was done organizing around Ferguson. City Council races announced firing. It was to see a change in that city. And it's one example of what are many opportunities that have been seized upon by groups. To, really ensure that diverse voices are leading. In places where the population it looks more Brown or black or indigenous than it does white I'll have to look some of these up because I think that somewhere where I'd. Want, to volunteer money to support them if not, you know being able to be part of them because I'm not a part of that group Yeah Gray, and what are you seeing in the current election cycle with regards to diversity? Is this a more diverse election than previous years? Are there specific races that you're particularly watching closely with this lens? I love that Vice President Biden chose Comma Harris as his running mate that we have a woman who is black? WHO's the daughter of immigrants who has South Asian. At the top of our ticket is so. I it's just tremendous. Hearing, her gave her acceptance speech at the convention I got really emotional because I saw myself in her. I saw about I saw my parents story of coming to this country. I saw what it means to ice for every opportunity you have something to be the only woman often be the only woman of color in rooms. So for me, one of the most inspiring people that will be on most every American's ballot is Senator Kamla Harris aside from. That I'm really excited in Nevada that we have just as many women running as we have in previous cycles. In that, we have an opportunity to keep our majority women legislature we have it took us until two thousand nineteen to have a woman leading the state Senate the state's first majority woman majority leader, her name's Nicole Cannizzaro. She's the first woman to lead the state Senate. I'm really excited to make sure that she gets reelected and there are. A handful races that I'm I'm really excited to see women up in particular, but to also see people of Color in the South Carolina Senate race is a prime example of where we have a black man taking on Lindsey Graham. That's huge, and we have a graphic prepared to take on Senator Mitch McConnell in Kentucky these active really a big inspiration I think are worth investing our energy and his volunteers and our time in as voters couldn't. Agree more. Thank you so much for doing this with US I. Feel Like I learned a lot and I, also feel really inspired like it was just so great to talk to you. I also feel inspired inspired knowing that it is not too late that even if I haven't done any text banking or phone banking yet that starting now can still help. Yeah I just texting training. So I'm excited to do it but I haven't done anything yet so. So. Can you tell people where they can find you if they would like to follow you? And if there's anything that they can do to support either your future race are racist going on in Nevada. Sure and before I do, I. will say that the most important thing if you do nothing else is cycle is voting. If you visit I will vote dot com you can look up your polling location. You can see what it. If you need a request to all the things that you need vote in your state you can find on I will vote dot com acid onto your friends and family because it's the most important thing we can do to take back our democracy. I am pretty active on twitter. I tweet photos of my perfect dog Louis. He's my sunshine. And I'm at Iran Ah Kinsella Selah it's why a an N. N. A. C. A. N. C. E. L.. Amazing. So please follow her and if you have other pressing questions, you would like us to address in advance of the election shoot us an email at bound on pay per podcast, go dot com, and we will do our best best to it.