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Ensign addresses Douglas students

by Merrie Leininger

Because of his love of America and his desire to get more young people to vote, U.S. Rep. John Ensign, R-Nevada, visited a Douglas High School classroom Friday afternoon.

He invited the class to ask the tough questions after he gave his speech and the students responded.

“What do you think about welfare and drug testing of welfare recipients?”

“Would you be speaking to students if you weren’t running for office?”

“What do you think of Social Security and the fact there won’t be any left for our generation?”

“Do you think minimum wage should be raised?”

Ensign took the time to answer each of these questions from Randy Green’s senior U.S. government class and Keith Cole’s junior U.S. history classes and even stayed afterward to address one student. The students seemed to appreciate it.

Senior Richard Ridley said he appreciated the chance to meet and learn a little about one candidate so he will be able to decide how to vote.

“I’m still curious about how he stands on issues. I think it’s great he came to the class,” Ridley said.

Senior Alison Seavey was very impressed.

“I think we need more people like him. I think he talks about things that people care about and he obviously takes an interest in how government isn’t spending money on people like they need to,” she said.

Green said the candidate for the U.S. Senate seat soon to be vacated by Sen. Richard Bryan, D-Nevada, contacted him to speak, and he was happy to oblige.

“It’s nice for the kids to see a real body. I think the kids asked good questions,” he said.

Ensign told the class he has spoken to many students since being elected in southern Nevada to the House of Representatives two terms ago.

“I really like it. I have a great time coming out and speaking to students. I remember sitting in your desks,” he said. “Hopefully, I can take some of those facts you’re learning in class and bring them to life a little and help you understand why they are important to you in your daily lives.”

When he was asked if he was there just to get votes, he cited statistics.

“If that was my motivation, it would be an inefficient use of my time because most 18-year-olds don’t vote. I hope to encourage you to vote. I truly want you to care about this country and I want you to vote, even if you don’t vote for me,” he said.

Ensign answered a student’s question about Social Security by describing his plan for changing the system for younger workers.

“If social security had been set up like a 401K, where it builds up interest over time, it still would have enough money,” he said. “It needs to be changed for younger people and invested in mutual funds and tightly regulated because it won’t be there for people your age if it’s not changed.”