State Sen. Yvanna Cancela resigns to join federal health agency

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Christopher DeVargas

State Sen. Yvanna Cancela speaks during a panel on the rising cost of prescription drugs in the U.S., Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019.

Mon, Jan 11, 2021 (12:06 p.m.)

State Sen. Yvanna Cancela, a staunch supporter of President-elect Joe Biden, has resigned to take a position with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“I did not make this decision lightly, especially considering the upcoming 2021 Legislative session and the important work ahead,” Cancela, a Democrat, said in her resignation letter to Gov. Steve Sisolak.

“However, I could not turn down the opportunity to continue serving the Silver State and our great nation,” said Cancela, who worked with the Biden campaign as a senior adviser in Nevada.

It was not clear what Cancela’s role will be with the federal agency.

In her resignation letter, Cancela said she would be leaving the Legislature with a “heavy heart but a hopeful spirit.”

“For the last five years, I have had the privilege of working with some of our state’s finest public servants and activists on issues like affordable housing, prescription drug pricing and consumer protections,” she said.

In a statement, Sisolak said he was sad to see Cancela leave the Legislature but proud of her accomplishments and “eager to follow her journey forward.”

“Yvanna has always been a strong advocate for workers and for improving healthcare systems to serve those in need — including work to increase drug cost transparency,” Sisolak said. “All of Nevada’s communities, including our immigrant communities, are stronger because of Yvanna’s steadfast commitment to breaking barriers and elevating voices that can often go unheard.”

In a statement on behalf of the state Senate’s Democratic Caucus, Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro said Cancela “will be a huge asset to the administration as they work to combat the pandemic and make health care more affordable.”

The Clark County Commission will fill Cancela’s vacant seat in Senate District 10.

First appointed to her seat in 2016 after her predecessor, Ruben Kihuen, was elected to Congress, Cancela won reelection in 2018. Her term would have run until 2022.

She was a political director with the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 before assuming office.

After Biden’s election, Cancela was tapped to serve on the Inaugural Committee.

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