Freshman Orientation: Assemblywoman Beatrice Duran

This is one in a series of profiles of legislative newcomers.


  • Freshman Democrat appointed to replace Assemblywoman Olivia Diaz, who resigned in December in order to run for Las Vegas City Council
  • Represents District 11, which includes parts of Downtown Las Vegas and North Las Vegas
  • District 11 is majority Democratic (55 percent Democratic, 12 percent Republican and 33 percent nonpartisan or other in the 2018 election).
  • The Clark County Commission voted unanimously to appoint Duran.
  • She will sit on the Education, Government Affairs and Health and Human Services committees.


Born in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Duran received her GED from a Colorado High School before moving to Las Vegas. She is the mother of two children and grandmother to four, and in her free time enjoys spending time with family, as well as organizing and attending union events.


Duran has been working in Nevada’s service industry since 1985 when she started work at the Four Queens as a server. After helping to unionize her workplace, she joined the staff of the Culinary Union Local 226 in 1999. For the last 10 years, she has worked as a grievance specialist, representing union members in workplace disputes.


What are your top legislative priorities for the 2019 session?

Ever since the 2016 election, Nevadans from all walks of life across our state — particularly people of color, women, immigrants, and blue-collar workers — have had to endure an unrelenting and hostile agenda under this presidency. That is why voters, even those who sat on the sidelines in previous elections, mobilized themselves as a means to push back and retake their government for the people. I understand what is at stake, and that is why I plan to pursue changes that put local communities in my district first. 

First and foremost, I believe health care should be treated as a right — not as a privilege or a product. No one should have to worry about being able to afford quality health-care coverage in our state.

Moreover, as a mother and grandmother, I know our children need and deserve high quality schools — from pre-K to college. We can do this by reforming the funding formula so that school districts are equitable and have adequate funding, reducing class sizes in order to provide ample attention to each student, and raising teachers’ salaries so that we can attract the best and brightest to teach in our classrooms.

Finally, I will also devote considerable energy towards pursuing labor rights and economic justice for all Nevadans. In a state with this much economic growth and this much money, there is no reason why the lowest paid workers should earn $8.25 per hour. Rent and utility costs are going up. Food costs are getting more and more expensive. It’s unsustainable. We can no longer settle for salaries that, at best, keep Nevadans living paycheck to paycheck.

What programs/parts of the state government could be cut? What programs/areas need more funding in 2019?

We have a lot of work to do in this session to ensure that voters feel like their voices are heard in the legislature. From health-care reform to education, we have an unprecedented number of challenges to overcome this year. After 20 years of divided leadership, we finally have a unified government that will work for each and every Nevada family. As we move forward in the legislative session, I will look for ways to maximize currently available funds and support adjustments when needed. One thing is certain: I will advocate for policies that prioritize the working-class communities in our state which have felt underrepresented in the past.

What specifically should Nevada do to improve health care this session? How about education?

Health care is broken in America. In 2018, voters consistently stated that they want health care that is affordable and accessible. And here in Nevada voters elected candidates up and down the ballot that called for meaningful health-care reform. 

We need to resist any attempts to gut the Affordable Health Care Act as well as find new ways to expand access to those who still lack coverage. I am open to supporting reforms introduced in the legislature that put people ahead of profit.

The time it takes rebuild our public school system will be measured in years. There is so much more work that needs to be done to get our children the education that they deserve — one that prepares them for good careers and is fully funded and accountable. I am in support of policies which protect and increase funding for our education system. With so much at stake, there is no room for cuts to our education.

Should Nevada raise its Renewable Portfolio Standard to 100 percent by 2050? If not, what should the state's RPS compliance standard be?

I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure that Nevada is a leader in renewable energy, and I am open to looking at proposals that get us to 100 percent in the coming decades. Our first step should be to pass legislation in this session that meets the standards established by Question 6, a ballot measure which was overwhelmingly supported by Nevada voters.

Do you support modifying or eliminating current property tax caps in state law?

As Nevadans, we must stand together and adequately fund local services as well as fight against wasteful spending. I’m looking forward to learning more about property taxes and the reforms needed throughout this upcoming session.

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

Health care and education reform are issues that shouldn’t be partisan. I believe my Republican colleagues are ready to get to work during this session and collaborate on bills that make life better for Nevadans. I’d also like to see bipartisan support for measures that help to lower the crime and recidivism rates in our state.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

Updated 2-7-19 at 12 p.m. to include information about Duran's education. 


Nevada becomes first state with majority female Legislature

Nevada will become the first state in the country to have a majority female Legislature after members of the Clark County Commission appointed two women to a pair of open seats in the Assembly.

County commissioners on Tuesday appointed Rochelle Nguyen to replace former Assemblyman Chris Brooks, appointed to the state Senate last month, and Culinary Union grievance specialist Beatrice Angela Duran to replace Assemblywoman Olivia Diaz, who resigned earlier this month and will run for a Las Vegas City Council seat.

With the appointments, female lawmakers will take 23 of 42 seats in the state Assembly and nine of 21 spots in the state Senate, good for 32 out of the 63 seats in the Legislature.

Nationwide, women hold about 25 percent of state legislative seats, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures’ most recent data. The only previous time women held a majority in a state legislative chamber was New Hampshire’s state Senate between 2009 and 2010. Guam also saw a majority female Legislature elected in 2018.

Both appointments were made with unanimous votes, and commissioners said the decisions were made based on recommendations from the Assembly caucus leadership.

"The Assembly Democratic Caucus is proud to welcome Rochelle Nguyen and Beatrice Duran to the State Assembly and our Caucus," Speaker Jason Frierson said in a statement. "In addition to a diversity of backgrounds and life experiences, both Rochelle and Beatrice bring passion, energy, and knowledge to the State Legislature that will better serve our state and our constituents."

The new Assembly members are both Democrats, and will serve the remainder of the two-year terms until the 2020 election. They’ll join a supermajority in the Assembly, where Democrats hold 29 of the 42 seats.

The path to a female-majority Legislature wasn’t immediately clear after the November midterm election but became possible through various vacancies. State Sens. Tick Segerblom (elected to the Clark County Commission) and Aaron Ford (elected attorney general) left vacancies filled by Brooks and Public Utilities Commission attorney Dallas Harris, respectively.

Nguyen said she came to Nevada in 1999 and enrolled in the William S. Boyd School of Law at UNLV in 2002, later working for the Department of Justice on immigration review cases and spent three years with the Clark County Defender’s office. She now owns and operates a criminal defense firm with her husband, attorney Matthew Lay, which she said would be an area of interest in the Legislature.

“We’re very familiar with the criminal justice system and have first-hand knowledge about the reform that needs to take place in that area,” she told commissioners.

She’ll also become the only Asian-American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community member in the Legislature and one of a handful to ever serve in Carson City. Evan Louie, the chairman of a recently formed progressive advocacy group called One APIA Nevada, said it was important for members of the community to see themselves in elected office.

“I’m a single father raising a daughter; she’s 11 years old. She wants to be a future president someday,” he said. “Yet she’s never seen a female president, she’s never seen an AAPI or someone who looks like her in the state Legislature.”

Duran told commissioners that she joined the Culinary Union’s staff in 1999 after helping unionize her workplace, and since 2007 has been part of a team of 12 grievance specialists who represent union members in workplace disputes.

“In the last 10 years, our grievance team has won over $10 million in back pay, lost wages, and helped hundreds of working men and women get their jobs back,” she said.

Duran said her top issues in the Legislature would be restoring voting rights to the disenfranchised, giving more funding to public schools and making health care more affordable.

The Culinary Union, which represents more than 57,000 workers in Nevada, backed Duran publicly at the meeting and called her a "fighter for working families" in a statement after the appointment was made.

"When the workers, who make Las Vegas run, have a voice in the political process and a seat at the table, our entire community benefits," Culinary Secretary-Treasurer Geoconda Arguello-Kline said in a statement.

Although the votes were unanimous, several commissioners, including Chris Giunchigliani and Susan Brager, grumbled at the appointment process, suggesting that a better solution might be to hold special elections or find other ways to allow applicants more of a chance at open seats if they are not favored by the caucus.

“I’ve gotten to the point that I think legislatively, this process is flawed and needs to be taken a look at,” Giunchigliani said. “We’ve been doing too many appointments. It gives people the image of incumbency and new people can never bubble up.”

The list of candidates who applied for the seats include:

Assembly District 10

  • Alison Brasier, attorney and founding partner of Hicks & Brasier law firm
  • Nadia Hojjat, chief deputy public defender in Clark County
  • Jesse “Jake” Holder, licensed mortgage loan officer and real-estate agent
  • Mara Callister Meservy, administrative assistant for the Nevada Society of CPAs
  • Rochelle Thuy Nguyen, attorney and owner of Nguyen & Lay law firm
  • Zenda M. Shepherd, executive casino host

Assembly District 11

  • Ace Acosta, crew member at Little Caesar’s Pizza and former canvasser for Fund Our Future
  • Douglas A. Bache, former assemblyman and retired Clark County School District employee
  • Abraham Camejo, small-business owner
  • Beatrice Angela Duran, grievance specialist with the Culinary Union
  • Mayra Salinas-Menjivar, legal services fellow at the UNLV Immigration Clinic

Updated at 4:17 p.m. to include statements from Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson and the Culinary Union