by: Emily Olson
Julie Pazina (D) prepared to give a speech in her living room, surrounded by friends, family and supporters. And in that pause between the flurry of greetings and quick conversation and the start of her formal speech, she had an epiphany.
“I looked over the room and saw friends, family and colleagues; politicians and people not even interested in politics; Democrats, Republicans and Independents. And I realized that despite their diverse backgrounds and interests, they all came together to support me and get involved in the democratic process. It was a wonderful feeling to know that my campaign inspired their excitement.”
Pazina is a Democrat running for the open seat in Nevada State Senate District 12. It’s a hotly contested race—Pazina has a primary challenger and two candidates are running on the Republican side, but Pazina brings something to the race the others don’t.
As a hospitality and tradeshow professional—she’s the national director of sales at Edlen—she truly understands how devastating the pandemic was to the industry she loves and her state as a whole. “Our industry really dominates the state,” she said, expressing frustration that there’s no one in the legislature who really understands the nuances of the industry. “I decided to run because our industry needs representation at the table.”
Nevada has a citizen legislature that meets for four months every other year, and for the rest of their term, members of the legislature attend to their careers. “I think this makeup allows for legislators who represent and understand different industries,” Pazina said. She says she believes, however, that the industries represented by legislators should be those that meet the needs of Nevada’s populace. “It’s important that the legislature be representative of the community that elects them.”
This isn’t Pazina’s first run for this seat. She ran in 2018 and lost by a heartbreaking margin. “In a district that has never elected a woman or a Democrat, I lost by half a point,” she said. That translates to a mere 24 votes out of 55,000 cast, proving that every vote does indeed matter.
But after that loss, Pazina didn’t simply return to her day job and leave politics behind. During her 2018 run, she made a promise to a dear friend whose son, Carson, died of undiagnosed childhood leukemia after a bout of what his family thought was strep throat. “I wanted to do something in Carson’s honor,” Pazina said, and she didn’t let a half-point loss stop her. Instead, she worked with Joyce Woodhouse (D), who served in the Nevada State Senate until 2019 when term limits prevented another run, to form a rare disease advisory council in the state. They also designed a license plate to fund the council, developed signage for display in local schools on the importance of annual physicals, and worked to give medical professionals additional education on diagnosing and treating childhood cancers. “It’s one of the things I’m most proud of,” Pazina said.
In preparation for her current run, Pazina added another layer to her deep understanding of the state’s number one industry by getting involved in industries she doesn’t interact with on a daily basis. She serves on multiple boards, and she just graduated from Leadership Las Vegas. “I wanted to learn about the community through the Chamber of Commerce,” she said of her experience with Leadership, and delights in the friendships she made during the experience. “I spent a year learning from others about so many different industries and organizations.”
Pazina is heading to her June 14 primary confident in her abilities to support the people of Nevada. “I’ve worked hard to be well-rounded so that I’ll be able to serve Nevada well, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to run.”
Full disclosure: Exhibit City News is a publication free of political affiliations, but in Julie Pazina’s case, we’re making an exception and supporting a candidate who supports our industry. For more info about Julie Pazina’s campaign, visit www.juliepazina4nv.com.
This story was originally published in ECN’s Q2 issue. Read it here: https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecn_q2_2022