Freshman Orientation: Democratic Sen. Julia Ratti

  • Julia Ratti

    Freshman Democrat who was appointed to the seat in October ahead the 2016 special session. The seat was previously held by Democratic Sen. Debbie Smith, who passed away in 2016.

  • Represents Senate District 13, which covers the heart of Reno and Sparks.
  • District 13 has a massive Democratic advantage (44 percent Democrat, 28 percent Republican and 21 percent nonpartisan in the 2016 election).
  • Ratti did not have a primary opponent.
  • She cruised to victory against Republican Kent Bailey, earning 60 percent of the vote to his 35 percent in the general election. About 5 percent of voters supported Libertarian candidate Brandon Jacobs.
  • Appointed chair of the Revenue and Economic Development committee, vice chair of the Health and Human Services committee and is serving on the following committees: Government Affairs and Natural Resources.


Ratti is a Reno native, born in 1969 and graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno majoring in photography and journalism. She graduated with a Master’s Degree in nonprofit administration from the University of San Francisco in 2004.

According to her campaign website, Ratti and her husband James enjoy spending their spare time “working on their 1940s home, renovating vintage Airstream trailers and hiking and camping with their rescue dog Gus.”


Before entering public service, Ratti spent more than a decade running a small business that provided “management solutions primarily to nonprofit and government organizations.”

In the nonprofit sector, Ratti has spent time with several organizations including Partners in Education, Gang Alternatives Partnership and spending five years as the CEO of Girl Scouts of the Sierra Nevada between 2010 and 2015.

She was elected to Sparks City Council in 2008, and spent the next eight years there until deciding to run for vacated state senate seat. Ratti is involved with numerous Reno-area boards including chairing the Sparks Redevelopment Agency and serving as the vice chair of the Washoe County Health District.


What about Nevada are you most proud of? What about Nevada embarrasses you most?

We live in a beautiful state and I am proud of the diversity of both our environment and the people who live here. I love our fierce independent streak and our appreciation for the unusual. I'm not embarrassed about Nevada but I do believe we have a lot of work to do to improve opportunities for working families and to strengthen our social safety net. I'm tired of being at the top of all of the wrong lists - particularly when it comes to health and human services.

Please list your top three priorities for the 2017 Legislative Session and explain. (Feel free to reference specific BDRs or group BDRs together by general policy area.)

Strengthening services for families when they are in need of assistance
A strong middle class
Responsible fiscal policy

Under what circumstances should Nevada raise taxes? Would you support a tax increase this session?

It's time to review and simplify our property tax system.

What programs/parts of the state would be best to cut? What programs/areas need more funding in 2017?

We should review abatements to see if the investment is accomplishing what was originally intended.

Nearly all legislators list diversifying Nevada's economy and creating new, permanent jobs for Nevadans among their highest priorities. What specifically do you personally plan to do to help accomplish that?

My priority is to make sure that we are creating a job market where families can earn a living wage and have the benefits they need to be healthy and successful. My focus will be an increase in the minimum wage, maintaining current protections for workers and assuring that our economic development strategy includes a workforce development component that gives Nevadans the opportunity to gain the skills they need to progress.

What should be Nevada's next move on solar policy?

This is an area where I need to learn more.

In September, the Nevada Supreme Court blocked funding for the state's school choice program. What legislative changes do you think should be made to the program this session?

Any program that diverts funding from our public schools is problematic in my book.

Should Nevada change its minimum wage? If yes, at what level should it be set?

At least $12

Are there any particular issues on which you see yourself working across party lines? If so, which ones? If not, why not?

It's imperative that we all work across party lines and I intend to do so. I'm grateful for my experience on the Sparks City Council where we worked together to do what was best for the City.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.

2-3-17: This article has been updated to correct the committees that Ratti is serving on, her answer on working across party lines and the name of her husband.