Patricia Ackerman, Ready to Usher in a New Era
Updated: Oct 3
"It is time to usher in a new era of governing, one that is guided by empathy and compassion toward every sister and brother and certainly this precious planet we call home."
- Patricia Ackerman
Editor's note: A version of this article originally appeared on Democrats Abroad.
WHO IS SHE?
Patricia Ackerman (NV-02) is the daughter of Ukrainian immigrants, both Holocaust survivors. Her mother was forced into Nazi slave labor for four and a half years and her father, after almost starving to death, escaped a concentration camp. After enduring the Holocaust and the Soviet oppression that followed, her parents fled to Ambridge, Pennsylvania, determined to succeed in America.
They passed along that same fierce will and determination to live free to their only daughter.
But, her parents, like many victims, were plagued by post-war trauma, and domestic violence overwhelmed their household. At the age of 15, Patricia fled her childhood home. Despite the obstacles that followed, she pursued her GED, and at the age of 21, started her first successful small business as an interior landscape designer.
Various other careers and pursuits followed for Patricia from working with the FBI as an independent undercover agent to becoming an accomplished high-altitude mountaineer.
She credits climbing with preparing her for her latest challenge:
"My background in climbing truly prepared me for running for a congressional seat, especially such a contested seat. As a climber, knowing how to mitigate risk, what risks to take, to be pragmatic in our choices, to keep ourselves alive... to thrive. There are a lot of parallels between being a high-altitude climber and running for public office."
In 2018, Patricia ran for State Assembly in Nevada's 39th District -- a very conservative district with a ratio of 2:1 Republicans to Democrats. Undaunted by her odds, she knocked on over 10,000 doors and ran a strong, professional campaign that garnered praise from all over Nevada. Although she came up short, she won over many hearts and minds, inspiring her to run again -- this time for Congress.
On June 9th, in a decisive primary, Patricia bested six other Democrats, securing 49% of the vote and her place as the Democratic candidate for Nevada's 2nd Congressional District. She will face Republican Mark Amodei, a four-term incumbent, in November.
WHAT IS SHE FIGHTING FOR?
Access to affordable healthcare is an issue that is close to Patricia's heart. While canvassing during her 2018 run for State Assembly, she met many of her constituents who were concerned about healthcare. One woman in Lockwood, she recalls emotionally, was prepared to go without treatment and die from stage four ovarian cancer -- all because she didn't want to leave her family in debt.
Even closer to home, Patricia was her mother's primary caregiver for seven years and helped manage her illness. At the end of her mother's life, when she desperately needed a doctor, Patricia struggled to find someone who would accept a new Medicare patient. Tragically, her mother died before she could see anyone.
"I lost my mother because of health care challenges in a rural community. So, it is a priority: making sure that we create a health care system that people can access and they can afford."
Ultimately, Patricia's healthcare plan will include a Medicare buy-in option that she believes will create a pathway toward a universal healthcare system, making healthcare coverage accessible and affordable to all Northern Nevadans.
Patricia will also ensure rural communities have access to healthcare clinics by properly funding them, and will improve telemedicine options to these areas by expanding high speed internet and broadband access, which has been especially critical during the COVID-19 crisis.
"During this pandemic, we have folks, neighbors, out in the rurals who have zero access to health care. They would have to drive three hours to actually reach a clinic. By simply bringing telemedicine in, we will be saving lives."
CLIMATE CHANGE & CLEAN ENERGY JOBS
Patricia believes the consensus in the scientific community: climate change is real and an immediate threat to our planet, including those in her district. "Reno is one of the fastest warming cities in the country. We are seeing the effects; we are feeling the effects first-hand."
In order to reverse the damage, she believes we must reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and shift to renewable energy right away. The effect of which will be a minimum of 8,000 new, clean energy jobs, ones that can’t be outsourced overseas.
"It will be stabilizing for the state, because we have such a big tourism business here. Bringing in renewable energy jobs is one way of being able to mitigate all of the tremendous damage that's happened because of the pandemic."
Patricia also pledges to develop clean energy on our public lands, support policies like the Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act of 2019, sensible legislation she notes, with bipartisan support.
In Patricia's view, corruption has been thriving in our government long before Trump was elected. Politicians have been accepting big, dark money from corporations for years, allowing them to own our government and corrupt our system with their influence.
Once elected, she will fight to end Citizens United.
"We have got to get the big money out of politics. I spend an insane amount of time, every single day, on call time, raising money... and it just shouldn't be like that. If you're hiring a public servant they should be working on policies to help the people, not spending inordinate amounts of time on the phone just begging for money. The system has got to change."
She also credits the power of large corporations as the reason we have dramatic income inequality, and believes only when we begin shifting power back to the people, will we be able to stabilize pay inequality that has steadily risen to Great Depression-era levels.
"I am the right candidate at the right time."
If elected, Patricia would be the first Democrat to represent Nevada's 2nd district since its inception in the 80s. It would be historic.
But, more urgently, it is necessary. Her opponent's policies are dangerous and outdated. On healthcare, Amodei is in lockstep with fellow Republicans. He voted to repeal the ACA and was in favor of the Republican-backed AHCA which would have left 23 million Americans without coverage over a 10-year span, according to the CBO. In 2019, he voted against a spending bill that funds the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Programs, essentially denying expanded telemedicine access to rural areas. On climate change, the current Congressman voted at least 9 times to block renewable energy funding. He stands against broadly supported efforts like meaningful health care reform and action on climate change that would bring stability and economic prosperity to his constituents. He is hurting Northern Nevadans.
At last, there's a path. Historically, Democrats have faced a Republican voter registration advantage believed too steep to overcome. But, Democrats have the majority in Washoe County, the most populous county in the district, for the first time ever.
"When you take the registered Democrats, and the non-partisans and green party... we have the majority. It is our job now to make sure our field plan is strong enough to where we can reach out to those individuals and make sure we win their votes."
HOW CAN I SUPPORT HER?
While campaigning has changed during the pandemic, retreating into the safe harbors of the digital space, the classic avenues of support -- donating and volunteering -- are still king. "In the midst of this pandemic, we've had to do more direct mailings and rely on physical materials... which are more costly. So, money, obviously, yes, it's important."
She also notes the ground game -- phone banking, texting -- is critical. She recalls the postcarding effort during her primary, where around 4,500 handwritten postcards sent from supporters in her district and all across the nation, went out to her voters. That contribution to her primary race, she believes, was one of the keys to her success.
Visit her website and follow her on social media for the most up-to-date information on the campaign and donate to her campaign:
Learn more: www.ackerman4congress.com
Facebook: Patricia Ackerman