Freshman Orientation: Danielle Gallant’s path from therapist to assemblywoman

10 March 2023

As in legislative sessions past, The Nevada Independent is publishing a series of profiles featuring the new lawmakers in the state. This is the 15th installment of more than a dozen. Check back in coming days for additional stories on new legislators’ backgrounds, interests and policy positions.

ASSEMBLYWOMAN DANIELLE GALLANT

The freshman Republican replaces Glen Leavitt, who served two terms before leaving the Assembly seat to run for state Senate, but dropped out before the election.  

Represents District 23 in Clark County, which encompasses Boulder City and Laughlin.

According to December 2022 active voter statistics, nearly 40 percent of District 23’s active voters are Republican, 26 percent are Democrats and 26 percent are nonpartisans. The rest are registered with minor parties.

Gallant won almost 60 percent of the slightly more than 36,000 votes cast in her district in November, beating Democratic opponent Elizabeth Brickfield. In the primary, she defeated Denise Ashurst and Dan Lier with 43 percent of the vote. 

Gallant serves as a member of the Growth and Infrastructure, Judiciary and Revenue committees.

FAMILY AND LIFE

Gallant, 44, and her husband Paul Gallant moved their growing family to Southern Nevada 10 years ago from just outside of San Francisco, where she grew up, to be closer to her mom and make their dreams of building their business more attainable.

“It was a big commitment for us because we were both self-employed. We lived with my mom and started Guardian [Realty],” she told The Nevada Independent in an interview, adding that at first her husband stayed in California to keep working while she put together their property management company. “It was a long year and a half. But I’m glad we did it. Because life is a lot easier here.” 

Her mom now lives 15 houses down the road. Gallant said she feels “very blessed” to call Nevada home after living in several parts of the country where she didn’t feel fulfilled. 

She and her husband have been married for 13 years and have two sons, Maddox and Xander.  They also have two poodles, Dolce and Star, and two cats, Max and Grayson — the latter alerts Gallant if there’s a scorpion in the house.

“Work’s good. Family life is good. Our space in our house is good. I mean, our house in California was 843 square feet — If we wanted a second kid I wasn’t even sure where I’d put it,” she said. “We’re really, really happy here.”

Gallant maintains an active lifestyle, squeezing in a weight lifting, running or yoga session early in the morning — a routine she carries over from high school when she swam long distance for the Olympic Club in San Francisco. 

She said she was up by 4 a.m. to get to swim practice before school, and then would swim until 6 p.m. after school. But after a shoulder injury at 18, she had to stop swimming.

Recently, she said, skiing has become her “ultimate favorite” activity as the whole family can join. The assemblywoman encourages her two sons to also be active — she said she has “a rule” that they must be in two after-school activities, an athletic one and an art-oriented one.  

EDUCATION AND CAREER

Gallant earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Auburn University in Alabama, as well as a master’s in human development and family studies. 

Before going into real estate and starting a property management business, she was a marriage and family therapist for 15 years, which she said was stressful and “not an income that helps support a family.” 

Although she didn’t want to become a real estate agent, she found property management was a good option and provided long-term relationships with clients and tenants, plus stable revenue.   

“It’s not like I have to constantly be chasing after the next big fish. We just keep building upon what we have,” she said. “It’s also nice because when I’m friends with somebody, I’m friends with them, not because I want to sell their house.”

After earning her real estate license and broker’s license and getting a property management permit, she said she “hit the ground running” to build her business with her mom’s help caring for Xander, then 2 years old. 

“We just traveled back and forth [to California] and I knew I was going to miss my husband but we both knew it was going to be the best thing for our kids,” she said. 

Assemblywoman Danielle Gallant, representing Assembly District 23, poses for a photo on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

Assemblywoman Danielle Gallant, representing Assembly District 23, gives her pet dogs Dolce, left, and Star on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

ROAD TO CARSON CITY

As an only child, Gallant said she had to grow up fast to keep up with dinnertime conversations with her parents. 

“[My parents] never dumbed anything down. Every night my mom had dinner on the table … and so whatever the conversation was, I either sit there and be quiet and listen, or I engage,” she said. “I started talking about politics probably by the age of 6. And by the time I was 14, I was able to pretty much handle myself in any current events conversation.” 

She said she is now grateful for that experience, but that it required her to be an adult much earlier than most kids.

“I remember when I was 13, I would have people ask me, ‘How old are you again? … You talk like you’re 25,’” she said. 

Gallant said she “never in a million years” thought she would successfully run for office, having grown up in California and seeing that politicians often come from “political families, big industry families and people with a lot of money.”

One day, she got a call from State Sen. Scott Hammond (R-Las Vegas), who invited her to a fundraising event where she met a campaign consultant who brought up the idea of her running for office. 

“I said, ‘You’re crazy. You don’t want me … I’ve gone to Burning Man. I had some wild 20s. You really don’t want me,’” she recalled. For months she refused, but he insisted. 

By December 2020, some of her landlord clients were calling her in tears, feeling the pressure of their tenant not being able to pay rent for six months while having to keep up with mortgage payments. When the campaign consultant called her that month, she finally said yes and began the process of running for the Assembly. 

ON THE ISSUES

Gallant said her top priorities are housing, education and reducing regulations on businesses. 

She said she hopes to have bipartisan support on some of her bills, including AB106 — what she calls the “handyman bill” — that would allow a contractor to do work under $7,600 without requiring a permit or licensing. Current law allows this for work under $1,000. 

Gallant said the current law is outdated and does not factor in inflation. AB106 would require the Nevada State Contractors Board to annually adjust the amount based on inflation.

AB111, another one of her bills, would add protections for certain religious displays in communities with homeowners associations (HOAs). Gallant gave the example of the mezuzah, a Jewish tradition where a scroll with Hebrew verses from the Torah is affixed on the door frame. She said she has heard of HOAs giving people a hard time for having them on their front doors.

Gallant said she would “probably not” support any new taxes, especially with inflation and the rising cost of living. 

“People are struggling. The last thing I want to do is to increase the cost of living for any constituent right now,” she said. “I think there’s always a way to take a look at how the government is spending their money and figuring out how to spend it more wisely and be more efficient.”

She said she sees her first term as a “marathon and not a sprint,” and looks forward to working with Democratic counterparts, especially as part of the minority.

“Republicans being in a minority and super minority, it makes things a little bit out of balance … I like it when it’s more 50-50,” she said. “So that everybody has to work together, instead of it being skewed and one side has more power. I think it’s better when there’s a balance so that you have some reasonable legislation.”

The post Freshman Orientation: Danielle Gallant’s path from therapist to assemblywoman appeared first on The Nevada Independent.

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