Speaker 1 (00:00):
Hi, I'm Nick Christensen, and this is compassionate. Las Vegas, the podcast.
Speaker 2 (00:27):
Welcome to compassionate Las Vegas, the podcast I'm your host will Rucker and joining me today is a person that I'm getting to spend quite a bit of time with lately seeing him just about everywhere. None other than Nick Christensen. Welcome to the podcast.
Speaker 1 (00:44):
Thanks. Well, it's great to see you again and again and again.
Speaker 2 (00:50):
Yes, indeed. And more to come, right?
Speaker 1 (00:52):
Speaker 2 (00:54):
Okay. Well, Hey, I wanna dive right into it and just ask my first question, which is what is compassion to you? Or we could say it this way. How do you con how do you define compassion?
Speaker 1 (01:05):
How do I define compassion? I mean, compassion has so many, it's interesting where it says so many meanings and such interesting nuance to it. I mean, certainly there's the, the, the piece where I think, um, INM part it's synonymous with, with empathy, uh, um, but not just empathy. Um, compassion goes a step further and adds, uh, actions on top of the empathy, um, that you can feel empathic towards somebody, but crossing the line into compassion means that you're doing something about it. Um, and, uh, uh, I think there are a lot of places we can go with that, but I think I'll, I'll stop there as a, a sort of a, a how I think about it at the, at least the top layer.
Speaker 2 (01:49):
Yeah, I think that's fantastic. And it, it's funny because I actually do a class called compassionate integrity training, and that is very similar to the approach we take with it talking about the different steps and, uh, you, you just nailed it in my view. So perfect. Now you've got a lot going on and it it's, it's one of those things where sometimes you're like, I, is this, you know, one of those things where you're doing it because you just don't know any better or is it because there's something really in your heart driving you to do it. So tell us about why you've decided to serve our community.
Speaker 1 (02:28):
Um, oh, well, uh, uh, in terms of, uh, I'm trying to do a couple of things in the community, and one of them that I'm doing right now is running for office. Um, I'm running for, uh, state assembly in district two, which is centered in downtown Sunland. And the reason I decided to do that is, is actually kind of funny. Um, I had, as of say what six months ago, I had absolutely no intention of ever running for office, none whatsoever. Um, but I was doing, uh, some work for the Sierra club, which I, uh, do a lot of work for as a volunteer and, uh, was working for the political committee, getting ready for the upcoming set of endorsements that we were going to do, um, in this campaign. And so I was tracking the, um, uh, you know, uh, the candidate signups the registrations, uh, to know, you know, who was gonna be running, who were gonna send questionnaires to and all that.
Speaker 1 (03:25):
And while I was looking over the list, as it was growing every day, I noticed that nobody had been, had a filed to run in my district. And after, you know, was a two week filing period, uh, about a week into it, I started sending out some emails saying, who's it gonna be? Who's going to file. There's a wonderful lady who ran last time, Dr. Ratica canal, um, who declined to get in the race this year, two years ago was another, uh, wonderful, uh, uh, a woman, uh, Jenny Sherwood. Um, you know, I thought she might file to, to get in the race again. Um, and she didn't. And so it's, we're getting closer and closer to filing deadline and nobody's doing it. Uh, and as I'm watching this, um, more and more people are coming back to me, giving back the response, nobody is going to run for it.
Speaker 1 (04:13):
You need to. Um, and so as things got closer and closer, I, you know, the, I guess it was, uh, the Thursday before filing close. I said, well, if nobody else does, uh, I will do it. And I wouldn't have gotten into it if I didn't intend to put in a hundred percent effort and do everything necessary to win that win the seat. But, uh, um, Friday came, um, Friday afternoon, I wandered down to the, um, to the county building. And if some, if the person in line in front of me had filed for, uh, um, the, to run in that seat as a Democrat, um, I would've shaken their hand, handed them my business card and said, hi, I'm your first volunteer and turned and left the building whistling, but it didn't happen. So I, uh, became the, at that time, the nominee for the Democrats in the assembly district too.
Speaker 1 (05:06):
And then it's just time to play a lot of catch up and, uh, you know, hit the ground running and try to, uh, do all of the things that should have been done back in December and January to get the, uh, uh, campaigns footing underneath it. But that's, that's the reason is sort of somebody else had to, I knew I was going to be spending an inordinate amount of time in this campaign, uh, fighting for, um, uh, candidates that believed in labor that be believed in a woman's, uh, bodily autonomy that believed in, uh, democracy and, and preserver preservation of that over party and believed in the, um, the existential threat that we face, uh, from climate change. Um, uh, and basically it just occurred to me that, well, instead of doing that for other candidates in this cycle, I'm going to be doing that on my behalf and hoping to lift the other candidates that are running in and around my area.
Speaker 2 (05:59):
You know, what I really love about that story is I can absolutely relate I, I believe that it's so important that if we believe in something we step and do it ourselves, my motto has always been be the change. Yeah. And so that's what I, I just heard you say, and I love that it wasn't an ambition of yours. You were already doing great work, and I, I wanna circle back to the Sierra club in a moment, but it wasn't an ambition. It was, uh, in a sense that a calling and a duty, because you recognize the importance of having a passionate people that are making our laws and, and deciding where the, the funds go.
Speaker 1 (06:38):
Yeah, I, I, I think so. I mean, um, uh, basically it was, you know, I, I knew I was going to be a lot doing a lot of work in the campaign. So the, the question always is what is the thing that I can do? That's gonna be most impactful, um, to advance the causes that I believe it, and this time around it was, you know, um, fill the slot that's empty on the ballot and then go out and campaign like, heck in order to, uh, get your message out and, uh, um, uh, you know, lift the causes that you believe in, um, you know, both, hopefully that will, uh, lead to my, uh, getting elected, but also for the, uh, other great candidates that are running in my neighborhood and folks like, you know, Senator Marilyn DLO, um, uh, commissioner, Justin Jones and, uh, um, uh, SU Lee running for Congress. So,
Speaker 2 (07:28):
Yeah, and all great people. We've actually had, uh, commissioner Jones on the podcast before as well. So, and, uh, Congresswoman SU Lee has been on to some of our, uh, town hall meetings, so, oh,
Speaker 1 (07:40):
Speaker 2 (07:41):
Yeah. So we gotta get the Senator on that'll, that'll be our next stop. So tell me about the Sierra club and here's, here's what I'm asking about that in particular, my view is if we don't have a planet, nothing else matters. So I feel like the work of the Sierra club is, is chief importance. Tell me about your role with them and, and their mission.
Speaker 1 (08:01):
Sure. Well, I, I completely agree as the saying goes, you know, there is no planet B um, if we don't, uh, um, you know, again, the, uh, you know, climate change and its effects on us, I believe are the longest term, uh, problem, the most important problem we face in the longest term. And, uh, um, it's one of the few things. I mean, we talk a lot about sort of existential crises, but few of these things are really existential in terms of our civilization, uh, uh, climate change is so that's one of the reasons it's, it's so important for me. Um, but, um, I got involved again, um, because, um, I was, um, I was so concerned with the issue. Um, if you want, I can tell you the, the story of how I actually ended up signing up.
Speaker 2 (08:51):
Yeah. I'd love to hear that.
Speaker 1 (08:53):
So it's, it's summer of 2019 and, you know, we've got the, you know, that we're in the, in the middle of the age of Trump and we're coming up on the presidential, uh, you know, nominees, uh, you know, and the caucus process, uh, in Nevada, which is gonna be a big deal because we're going third. Hopefully this next time will be first, but, uh, um, in any case it was gonna be pretty impactful. And I had spent a long time trying to figure out which, um, which, uh, candidate I wanted to support. And after talking to my friends, I had sort of a revelation and that was, you know, don't worry about who's gonna win. Don't worry about the horse race, pick the guy that speaks to your issues or woman speaks to your issues. And, uh, um, and, and back them. And, and, you know, don't worry about the horse race.
Speaker 1 (09:37):
And after taking a close look at the candidates, you know, again, because, uh, climate was such a, um, uh, um, concern of mine. I picked, uh, Washington governor J Insley, it's the guy I was gonna back. So I sent in, you know, um, uh, email, uh, to them saying, Hey, I'm here, I'm a volunteer in Nevada. I've got some time, let me know what you want me to do. And they had just hired a woman in, uh, to be the, the deputy director for Nevada, a woman named Kate ick, who called me up and immediately put me to work, um, attending events all over Southern Nevada, talking to people about the, um, uh, you know, the, uh, in the Inslee campaign. And, uh, all of, all the issues that surrounded that. And, you know, one of them I went to talk to was folks at Sierra club.
Speaker 1 (10:26):
And, you know, after talking to 'em for just a little bit, I'm sitting around going, you know, why in the world, am I not a part of this group? Uh, these are wonderful people, uh, you know, working hard, uh, believe in the, the, the good causes. And, uh, um, so I, you know, absolutely joined up and a couple of months later, um, one of the, uh, um, the, the gentleman at the head of the, you know, the Southern Nevada, uh, groups, uh, political organization said, Hey, you should come and do some political work with us. And it just launched a big partnership. And after about a, a year, um, of, um, you know, working with them, uh, I ran for the Southern Nevada group executive committee and got elected to it and had been doing work with their, you know, public lands team and their, um, uh, political committee and the legislative committee, uh, lobbying with them, uh, in the last legislative session. And, uh, I'm really proud of, you know, what we've stood for in, um, Southern Nevada and across the state. So, uh, that's, that's my en involvement with them. And again, it's, it's, it's sort of accidental, um, as with a bunch of groups, because I got, you know, I got sent there to try to recruit them and they ended up recruiting me.
Speaker 2 (11:45):
Yeah, my, my first, uh, endeavor with my current, uh, employer was volunteerism. I, I was recruited to, to do a volunteer training, which that was all I was planning to do. Then they asked me to do a specific contract to lead some specific trainings, uh, in one area. And next thing I'm, I know it's like, Hey, we've got this opening for the director of this thing. Do you want it? ? And I was like, no, absolutely not, but how could I say no to this mission? You know, so I can absolutely relate. And I think that's so key.
Speaker 1 (12:19):
Yeah. And it's a prime example of the, you know, um, the, the, the future and our community is decided by those who show up. Yeah. And it's, it's a lesson for folks out there, if you aren't involved in something and, and, uh, um, you want to make an impact. It's not that difficult, you know, you show up for organizations that need the help, uh, you know, um, show up when you say you're gonna show up, uh, you know, do some of the work that, that folks, other folks don't want to do, everyone's gonna take notice and, and, uh, um, you will be relied upon and move up in those organizations. Um, if you wanna have an impact, um, you know, again, it's decided by those people who show up,
Speaker 2 (12:59):
That's absolutely true. Now, a lot of folks right now are, um, with good reason, a bit, a bit disenchanted by quote unquote politics and government and things of that nature. Uh, I had a, a guest in our very first season who works now actually with the vice president as her communications director, but has been in politics forever. And he said something that changed my entire view, which is really, uh, and I'll probably post it in the late so that people can watch the interview. But the essence of it was like, politics is really just running a family. like, that's, that's really what it is, is making sure we have the boundaries. We need to stay good neighbors. And so I always encourage folks to get involved in the process. And I love your definition of compassion bringing in that action piece, because a lot of us do care. A lot of us really have great concern for our neighbor, and we really do wanna make a difference in the world. But sometimes it feels as though we're not big enough to our actions don't really count. What would you say to someone that maybe wants to, you know, sit this election out because of how polarizing politics has become, how toxic it's become? What, what would you say to that individual?
Speaker 1 (14:19):
Well, I certainly understand the, um, the concerns about, uh, politics and toxic. It has become toxic. Um, but it's very important that we don't, uh, you know, inappropriately both sides of the issue. I mean, there is one, uh, party who wants to, uh, you know, have elections decided by voters and one whose platform is plainly not. Uh, and I, you know, if, um, climate change is the number one long term issue that we face as a nation and a planet, I think that the loss of democracy is the number one short and medium term issue that we face, um, certainly as a country. So, um, you know, my, in my experience, when you're talking about the people who aren't involved in, in politics, or think that it's toxic, it's rarely because that their, you know, moderate split down the middle, that think there's a lot of merit on both sides, but it's because the people that simply, um, are turned off by politics and don't want to become involved.
Speaker 1 (15:23):
And so, um, again, it's not a, a question of their intelligence, but they don't have a lot of information about what's going on simply because they're trying hard to avoid that because they find it so distasteful. And, uh, um, I completely understand that. I mean, you know, everybody's got, uh, um, things in their lives that they don't wanna deal with and, uh, um, uh, put off because, um, uh, uh, dealing with them just, um, just upsets us and for some people that that's politics, uh, but the, on the other hand it matters. And it's not just a question of, of, you know, uh, holding your nose and deciding, you know, who you're gonna vote for and going out and voting the real issue. And the part that I think the, the same folks find most distasteful is the, is the, um, prospect of getting informed and the process of doing that.
Speaker 1 (16:12):
And, um, you know, I, I, I wish I had, uh, a lot of, uh, good advice for that. I mean, smarter people and more politically savvy people than I have been working on that for years. And if there was a, you know, uh, uh, a shortcut for this, uh, it would've been implemented by now. Uh, so, um, it's, it's a, a problem, but you take a look for example, in Las Vegas, just in the last election cycle, we had a county commission seat, uh, decided by single digit votes. Um, you know, this year, the elections statewide are gonna be very, very close. Uh, it's going to be a turnout election, whoever can motivate their voters to get out is going to win these things. And you've got a choice between somebody like Zach Ko, nine running for state treasurer, who's extraordinarily competent and extraordinarily decent man running against Michelle FII, who has no, you know, uh, financial background whatsoever.
Speaker 1 (17:07):
Um, and who's, you know, um, top two items of note on our biography are, um, uh, posing, uh, in a calendar carrying, uh, semiotic. We automatic weapons and, uh, uh, getting in a fist fight in a Las Vegas county commission, uh, Las Vegas city council meeting. Um, you know, what do you want? Um, I, I think that that distinction is important. So, um, I'm, you know, all I can do is encourage people to get informed and get involved. Um, but, um, uh, you know, this is going to be a close one and, and it matters. The other thing I'll say is that when it comes to approaching the folks who are most reluctant to get involved with politics, you know, I can come to the door as a candidate, or my volunteers can come to the door or, you know, uh, paid, you know, canvasers, or we can send, uh, mailers or things like that, make phone calls.
Speaker 1 (18:01):
And with the people who really don't wanna be involved in politics, it doesn't sink in very much. It just gonna tell us to go away and, and not be involved with that. But, um, family, friends, neighbors, those sort of people have a much higher impact rate on the people who don't wanna be involved in, in politics. So one of the things I would tell is to all of the people who care about these issues, who care about the, the future of our state, uh, talk to your friends, talk to your neighbors, talk to your coworkers about these issues and, uh, um, explain to them that it matters and it matters to you and why it matters to you. Um, it, you know, it matters to me that our childhood asthma rates are extraordinarily high, uh, especially in, uh, disadvantaged communities, especially along our major transportation corridors. Um, you know, uh, the governor signed on to the, uh, state compact that is going to electrify our medium and heavy duty vehicle F uh, fleet. Uh, the other side ha is not, and is, um, in, uh, trying to, uh, increase the amount of fossil fuels that we consume. Um, you know, it's, you know, folks like me think about that all the time, but the, the folks who are gonna decide this election typically don't, and I think it's important to get our message out to them.
Speaker 2 (19:20):
Yeah. I, I hear so many great nuggets in what you've shared in that, excuse me. And one thing that comes to mind is a lot of times, uh, people may vote for president. They may vote for the Senator or even the governor, but some of the local city council county commission, state assembly in your case, uh, they don't vote in cause they don't necessarily recognize how much it matters, what what's the secret to getting informed so that you're not overburdened. Cause there's, there's so many candidates, so much information. How do you find out, especially in this day and age, what's really true.
Speaker 1 (19:57):
Yeah. Well, that's, uh, a great question about what's really true. Let me, let me come back to that because there's a, a, a part of that, that question that I really wanna answer. And that's your statement about the down ballot races and you're absolutely right. Is there, I remember, uh, uh, canvassing in 2020 once the, the, we, we got the okay to do so and start knocking on doors late in the race. And I, uh, uh, knocked on one guy's door, um, said, Hey, you know, I'm Nick, I'm a volunteer for the, for the Democrats. Um, do you plan to vote in the upcoming election? And, uh, he said, oh, I already got you. I already covered it. I marked in Biden, left the rest of my ballot blank. We're good. I'm like, oh, oh my goodness. Uh, I was just, you know, uh, heartbroken.
Speaker 1 (20:40):
It's like, you know, I'm, I'm, I'm, I'm sitting say, Hey, there's so many other races there. You need to get involved in. Here's how you can, you know, sort of, uh, um, uh, change around your, um, uh, uh, your ballot and make sure that you vote for, um, our, uh, you know, uh, house of representatives in the assembly person in this area and the state Senator and the guy like, Nope, I've done my duty. And he was awfully happy with himself. And it's just, uh, um, a gut punch to somebody like me. Who's a bit of a political junkie. And as you said, um, who thinks that these down ballot races are so important? So absolutely. I encourage everybody to, to pay closer attention to these, uh, the down ballot races, because they are actually far more likely to affect your lives in a meaningful way than the top of the ticket races are.
Speaker 1 (21:27):
I mean, it's, you know, um, you know, people are, are focused on those races and seeing what's happening with things like, uh, a right to choose or, uh, voting rights and looking what's going on in the, the rest of the country. But even as, you know, spectacular, some of those headlines are, um, you know, the, uh, the most important things are happening in people's lives, you know, is the, are the potholes getting filled? Um, are your schools safe, uh, things like that. These are decided at the local level, um, you know, is your neighborhood gonna flood, you know, all these sorts of things. So, uh, these are really important. And one of the really interesting things in Nevada is that we have, uh, we vote on all of our judges and, uh, you know, it's, um, you know, I've gone through this in previous cycles.
Speaker 1 (22:10):
We see all of these, the, the list of judges on your ballot. And you're like, I've got no idea who these people are. And so in subsequent elections, they try to do a little bit of research, but even so everybody is, you know, talking about the same things, you know, how often they've appeared in that court and what their, um, uh, judicial temperament is and who they're endorsed by. And even to, I think, to a regular voter, those mean almost nothing. You know, what the, then the newspapers tell you what their, um, uh, appellate court reversal rates are and things like that, which I don't think is a really good measure for, um, uh, how good a judge you are as a lot of luck of the draw stuff. But, um, uh, but so it's, it's, it's difficult to get informed about those sort of things yet at the same time.
Speaker 1 (22:51):
And you and I have talked to a lot of these ju judicial candidates out there, man, they want to get the word out. They want to talk to people. So this enormous gap between people who, you know, don't know, uh, who to vote for and the folks who wanna get the word out. And, uh, um, it's really hard to fill that. I wish I had a good answer for how to do that, but it's so important, but there a, a bunch of things that, that people should do absolutely read the newspapers and take a look at their endorsements, go to those, the, um, uh, campaign websites for the down ballot folks. And absolutely, absolutely. If you have questions, contact them, reach out to them, send them a text message, uh, send them an email. Uh, you'll be amazed at how responsive these people are, um, because they really do want these votes.
Speaker 1 (23:35):
And especially on those down ballot races where only a, you know, a few, uh, small percentage of the people who fill off the top of the ticket, uh, go all the way down that these votes really do matter. Uh, so, um, um, you can get this information and also reach out to, you know, organ organizations that you trust the Sierra club every year, uh, where election cycle sends out a endorsement list. Um, wonderful other organizations that I trust, uh, national organization of women, um, the unions, um, you know, you know, my local democratic club all send out, um, uh, a list like this, uh, seek those out from organizations that, that you trust plan another, another good organization that has a endorsement list and, and take a look at those. And they're not all going to agree, but at least, uh, um, uh, if it's an organization that you trust, you can use that to synthesize it with what you're looking at and, and, and help you make an informed decision, uh, on some of these down ballot races.
Speaker 1 (24:31):
Um, but there really are some fantastic candidates out there, and it's hard to get this information. Um, but, uh, um, but, and I know nobody has, you know, time to do this, but, uh, with just a little investment in time, I think you can get some, some pretty good returns. I encourage, uh, uh, voters to, to do that. And then you can also share this information with your friends. Well, I found out X about Y and, you know, that's why I think the other candidate is better and so on and so forth. And, uh, um, uh, uh, you know, create a pretty informed electorate that way without having to spend a whole lot of time. But the judges have it really tough as you know, because they aren't allowed to do any partisan, um, uh, politicing. So they can't say for example, what party they belong to or where they stand on key issues, especially anything that can come up before them in the court. So it's, uh, it, it it's, it it's tough, but it's, it's almost amusing to see the, the, um, uh, voters who are desperate for information about the judges and the judge is desperate for information, but to get their information out to the voters and just having this, this, you know, um, canyon sitting between them, that makes it hard to do that.
Speaker 2 (25:37):
Yeah. Well, Nick, that's exactly why we took the plunge this season with the podcast. Typically we stay away from candidates. We did have a judicial candidate in our first season, and we've had existing electeds in other seasons, but for this one, I thought it was so important that people see, uh, who's running, why it's important and, and not just hear their campaign speech, cuz we can go anywhere and hear their campaign speech, but find out about the person. So I'm so thankful that you joined us for this episode. And as I always tell you, you are not just a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop and what you do matters. So.