Nevada News MakersOutreach

Legislative Watch

Jim Gibbons

Governor Jim Gibbons

Political Party: Republican
Current Job/Position: Governor State of Nevada
Hometown: Sparks, NV
Family: Married. Three Children.
Education: BS in Geology, University of Nevada; Masters Degree in Mining/Geology from University of Nevada’s Mackay School of Mines; JD from Southwestern University School of Law
Interviewed By: Daniel Riggs
Interview Date: 6/13/2008

Q & A

Q - How did you get to where you are?
I was always dedicated to public service and knew from an early age that I was interested in doing the best I could for the people of Nevada. It was with that motivation that I first served my country in the Air Force and later the National Guard, and with that motivation that I first ran for public office and became a Nevada State Assemblyman. I later represented Nevada in the United States House of Representatives for 10 years before becoming Governor.

Q - What other jobs did you have leading up to this one?

In the political world, as mentioned before, I was a state Assemblyman and a United States Congressman. But I have also worked in the mining industry and was a commercial airline pilot after retiring from the United States Air Force.

Gov. Gibbons explained that his father was a prospect miner and Gov. Gibbons always had intentions of working in the mining industry. He was working towards a mining Ph D when before deciding to study law instead. Before becoming Governor, Gibbons practiced mining and water law.


Said Gov. Gibbons: “There’s an interest in mining… what it does do in terms of creating jobs… there’s a great deal of pride in mining in rural Nevada… it helps across the state.”

“People believe that the mining industry does nothing but rape and pillage the earth… when in fact, mining is the cornerstone of our economy. Mining creates a quality of life, not just in Nevada but in the world.”

Q - Did you always want to be doing what you're doing now?
Public service has always been a goal of mine, and I've always looked at the position of Governor as one that presents the greatest opportunity to ultimately serve the public.

Q - What are your goals for your regular career or personally?
I have ultimately made my work for the people of Nevada my career. I spent a decade in Congress working for Nevadans, and am continuing that as Governor.

Q - What are your hobbies or interests?
When I'm outside the office I love to play guitar, golf and hunt. Time away from work is a little hard to come by, though.

Q - What unusual events have you been involved in, or unusual or memorable people have you met?

Aside from working with Presidents and many other prominent Americans, my work in Congress and as Governor has afforded me the opportunity to meet dignitaries from across the world, each of whom had a unique perspective on the world that I found fascinating. My service in both Vietnam and the first Gulf War also provided unique experiences that I have kept with me throughout my career.

Gov. Gibbons spoke highest of Pres. Reagan, the first president he met. Said Gov. Gibbons: “I’ve worked with presidents both democrat and republican. I think we’re very blessed to have great people willing to serve their country. Whether you’re a public servant at any level, you’re confronted with change.”

Q - How did you become successful at what you do?
I believe the key to success is ultimately a faith in what you're doing. I have always championed causes that I believe in, and worked for issues that I find important. When you have a passion for what you're doing and a willingness to fight for it, it makes it a lot easier to have success.

Q - What are your favorite causes?
One of my favorite causes, and this is a policy issue, as well, is laying the groundwork for energy independence for Nevada. Our state is rich in renewable resources that we can tap to power our future. The problem is developing the infrastructure we need to get that power to the people. It's one of my primary goals as Governor to set us on a path for energy independence, and a big part of that equation is putting the pieces in place to develop our renewable resources.

Q - Who or what were your inspirations?

My father was a tremendous inspiration to me. He taught me some of those core Nevada values that have carried me through my life, including service and dedication.

Q - What are your legislative goals next session?
During this incredibly difficult fiscal time, I hope that we exit the 2009 Legislative Session with a budget that prioritizes education, transportation and public safety. During the previous session we were able to allocate additional funding to relieve congestion in Clark County without raising taxes. I hope that the Legislature approves the work of my Public Private Partnership panel from this interim and moves forward with a demonstration project to further ease congestion along I-15. After the successful implementation of the Empowerment program for schools last session, I would like to see that program expanded, as well.

Q - What issues facing Nevada do you think are most important?
Clearly, Nevada is in the midst of one of the biggest fiscal crises in the state's history. By law, the state must keep a balanced budget, and we've reduced state spending to meet our current revenue. The most important thing we can do now is act responsibly when it comes to our budget, live within our means and weather this storm until the economy turns back around.

Q - How do you view the slim republican majority in the Senate? How do you view the large democratic majority in the Assembly?

The slim Republican majority in the Nevada Senate is a crucial balance to the large Democratic majority in the Assembly. Having one chamber in the control of each political party provides a valuable balance to legislation, forces lawmakers to work across party lines and generally results in greater compromise.

When asked about term limits— there is an on-going debate if term limits, as Nevada law stands now, are constitutional—Gov. Gibbons said: “The public has voted term limits in… I will adhere to the wishes and the will of the public.”

Concerning the legality of term limits, Gov. Gibbons said that is an issue for the State Supreme Court, and that as Governor he is just a by-stander. He added: “And that’s the exciting thing out our government, it’s not bound by the imagination of a single set of facts… it’s bound only by the imagination of the will of a collective of people.”

Gov. Gibbons also said: “And that’s the exciting thing about our government, it’s not bound by the imagination of a single set of facts… it’s bound only by the imagination of the will of a collective of people.”


Q - On what issue will you not budge?

I will not unilaterally increase the tax burden on the people of Nevada. I believe that a government should live within its means and operate as efficiently and effectively as possible. Digging deeper into people's pockets when they are struggling to make ends meet in an effort to avoid making tough decisions is something I will not do. When every individual, small business and family have to cope with less money and higher expenses, the state government should do so as well.

Gov. Gibbons said he will not introduce legislation to raise taxes. Said Gov. Gibbons: “It will be something the legislature looks at and reviews on its own. I will not initiate it.”

When asked under what scenario would he raise taxes, Gov. Gibbons added: “(If) the public votes upon itself an increase in taxes...when the public imitates or wills upon itself a tax increase, I am not there to override the vote of the public.”

Did you Know?

-Gov. Gibbons’ father was a Nevadan prospect miner and Gov. Gibbons worked mining law issues before taking public office.

-Gov. Gibbons pursued a Ph D in mining before switching to law school

-Gov. Gibbons served as a member in the Nevada Assembly then in the United States House of Representatives before becoming Governor.

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