Clark County Commission swears in Ross Miller as opponent takes challenge to Supreme Court

Clark County Government Center

The Clark County Commission swore in four members on Monday, including one whose race was so close his opponent is disputing the results in the Nevada Supreme Court.

The swearing-in ceremony was held outdoors at the Clark County Government Center amphitheater in downtown Las Vegas. Nevada Supreme Court Justice Abbi Silver swore in Marilyn Kirkpatrick, Ross Miller and Michael Naft, and newly elected North Las Vegas Justice of Peace Belinda Harris swore in William McCurdy II. 

Miller’s oath of office comes after a narrow victory against his Republican opponent, Las Vegas City Councilman Stavros Anthony. In November, Miller was in the lead by 10 votes out of more than 153,000 cast. Anthony filed for a recount that led to election officials including 74 additional ballots that widened Miller’s margin of victory to 15 votes. 

The commission voted to certify the recount’s results on Dec. 15. Anthony’s lawsuit for a new Clark County Commission election was rejected by a judge on Christmas Eve, but Anthony filed a notice on Monday with the Nevada Supreme Court to appeal the District Court’s decision denying his request.

“I am going to Nevada Supreme Court for residents of Clark County Commission District C, where the Register of Voters has called into question whether the election results reflect the true will of the voters. Spread 10, 30, 15 votes. 139 irreconcilable discrepancies and errors,” he tweeted on Dec. 30. 

In November, Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria reported to the commission there were 139 ballot discrepancies in District C. Although this halted the commission’s initial vote to certify the election results, Gloria explained at the Dec. 1 meeting that such discrepancies include instances when the number of the individuals who checked in at the polling location does not match the number of ballots cast, and that it happens every election. 

McCurdy, of District D, replaces Lawrence Weekly, who was termed out. Miller, of District C, replaces Larry Brown, who also was termed out. 

Kirkpatrick has been a District B representative since 2015, and Naft, of District A, was first appointed by Gov. Steve Sisolak in 2019. Commission terms are four years.

Stavros Anthony notice of appeal by Jannelle Calderon on Scribd

Clark County certifies Democrat Ross Miller’s 10-vote victory in commission race

The Clark County Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to certify the results of the general election for the District C race, affirming Democrat Ross Miller as the race’s winner with a 10-vote margin of victory in a district where more than 150,000 ballots were cast.

The board chose not to certify the results in the race in mid-November when the rest of the election was certified because of 139 ballot discrepancies that outnumbered Miller’s lead over Republican opponent Stavros Anthony. Tuesday’s decision comes after a Clark County District Court judge denied Anthony’s motion to prevent the reconsideration, saying that the discrepancies did not qualify as “cause” for a new election according to Nevada statutes. 

“As far as we know, the facts aren’t going to change that [Voter Registrar Joe Gloria] presented on the 16th, and the votes that were counted are accurate,” said Commissioner Larry Brown, who holds the District C seat and reached his term limit this year. “If we don’t meet the statutory requirement as far as ordering a new election, then our only option is going to be to certify and let the courts handle any kind of contested election.”

The motion to reconsider was made by Commissioner Tick Segerblom who was opposed to the board’s decision not to certify in November.

Miller, a former secretary of state, filed a lawsuit against the county after its initial decision not to certify, which he said in the complaint exceeded the board’s “authority under law.” On Tuesday, a statement from the candidate’s campaign expressed his thanks that the commission reconsidered its decision.

“Ross Miller served as Nevada’s chief elections officer for eight years, and nobody has more respect for the hard-working officials and volunteers who administered a fair election in District C,” Jim Ferrence, Miller’s campaign manager, said in the statement. “Over 153,000 voters cast legal ballots in the race, and Ross is thankful to the County Commission for making sure those votes count and for certifying Ross as the winner.” 

Las Vegas City Councilman Anthony said on Tuesday that he was “disappointed” by the board’s decision to “not take a stand for the voters in District C.” As an intervening plaintiff in Miller’s lawsuit, Anthony’s legal team argued on Monday that allowing the county to certify results and leave Anthony only with the options of a recount or a legal challenge was unfair as Gloria previously stated that a recount would not address the 139 discrepancies.

“To say that 139 votes that cannot be counted don’t matter is an affront to the integrity of the election process,” Anthony said in a statement issued by his campaign on Tuesday. “We have a hearing in District Court on Dec. 14, and we will continue to make every effort to get a fair, transparent and accurate election.”

Although Anthony refers to discrepancies as “votes that cannot be counted,” ballot discrepancies are instances when the number of individuals who checked in to vote or signed ballots does not match the number of ballots cast. These anomalies can occur if a voter casts multiple ballots or for a variety of mail-in issues. At a previous commission meeting, Gloria said that discrepancies occur in every election.

“There’s no election that goes without discrepancies that are identified,” he said. “In particular, this time, with such a large mail ballot number, that number that I’ve identified is in the thousandths of percent.”

The exact nature of the discrepancies in District C is unclear. Brown asked Gloria on Tuesday to go into more depth about the nature of the anomalies, but Gloria said that he could only offer hypothetical scenarios that may have caused them.

“We don’t know which voter they are, all we know is they exist, either in the mail, in early voting, or Election Day,” he said.

Gloria noted that there are discrepancies that can be solved, including voters who are a part of the Nevada Confidential Address Program, which allows for the voter records of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and/or human trafficking to be confidential. However, he said that in these cases, he would receive a document explaining the situation and that discrepancy would not be counted in the 139 against the margin of victory.

Gloria previously stated in an affidavit submitted to the court by Anthony’s campaign that he could not certify that the vote in District C was an “accurate representation of the will of the voters” in the region. On Tuesday, he said that the situation in District C is “unique.”

“Over 150,000 people voted in this contest,” he said. “It’s very out of the ordinary for a race with that many votes to be decided by ten. That margin of victory is very difficult to reconcile, no matter what the race is, with 215 precincts.”

Clark County calls for re-vote in commission race decided by 10 ballots; discrepancies outnumber victory margin

Clark County commissioners have certified all the results of the general election — except in the race for the commission seat representing District C, where ballot discrepancies outnumber Democrat Ross Miller’s 10-vote victory and a special election will be held.

Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria reported to the commission on Monday that there were 139 ballot discrepancies in District C, and Miller defeated Republican opponent Stavros Anthony by only 10 votes out of 153,162 cast. As a result of the discrepancies, the commission voted not to certify the District C results and instead call Gloria back to its first December meeting to present a plan for a special election.

“To the best of my knowledge, some of the discrepancies outlined by the registrar indicate that those discrepancies surpassed the narrow margin of victory in the District C race, calling into question the validity of election results in that district,” said Commissioner Larry Brown, who currently holds the District C seat and is terming out.

The special meeting of the commission on Monday was held in order to canvass, or certify the official tally of, votes from the general election. Gloria reported that there were 936 discrepancies identified in the county out of 974,185 ballots cast.

Discrepancies in ballot counts can occur when the number of voter check-ins at a voting site does not match the number of ballots cast at that site, when voters attempt to vote twice, and because of assorted mail ballot issues. 

President Donald Trump tweeted about the decision Monday afternoon, saying that “large scale voter discrepancy” showed that officials “do not have confidence” in election security. However, Joe Gloria stated at Monday’s meeting that discrepancies occur in every election.

“There’s no election that goes without discrepancies that are identified,” Gloria said. “In particular, this time, with such a large mail ballot number, that number that I’ve identified is in the thousandths of percent.”

The 936 discrepancies make up .096 percent of total ballots cast in Clark County in this year’s election.

Anthony has been vocally supportive of Trump in the past, but Anthony’s campaign manager, Lisa Mayo-DeRiso, distanced the campaign from the president’s comments on Monday evening, telling The Nevada Independent that Anthony’s campaign “has never subscribed to the conspiracy side of that” with regard to the discrepancies. 

“What we’ve consistently talked about is human error,” she said. “I don’t care if you’re counting ballots or making pizzas, there’s going to be errors.”

Discrepancies cannot be remedied in a recount, which Anthony would have been able to request if results had been certified on Monday. This is because the privacy of ballots prevents those counting from recording personal information that might identify voters whose ballots had errors.

In addition to a recount, Anthony also would have been able to challenge the outcome, in which case a judge would determine the legitimacy of the results. County Counsel Mary-Anne Miller said during the meeting that she believed any judge would be in a “very similar situation to what the county commissioners are today.”

“I don’t think, because of the nature of the discrepancies, that any court presented with these discrepancies would be comfortable saying that the results really reflect the will of the voters,” Miller said.

Mayo-DeRiso, spoke during public comment at the meeting, requesting that the commission delay certifying the District C results because of “possible voter irregularities.”

“With a 10-vote margin … the utmost consideration and careful review should be given to the voters of District C and the counting of the votes so that an accurate final tally can be confidently given,” Mayo-DeRiso said.

Mayo-DeRiso said Monday evening that the decision from the commission was “a win.”

The District C race was competitive long before results were released. The two well-funded candidates have sparred over policy positions and finances throughout the past year, with Miller even filing a complaint with the secretary of state a week before Election Day about discrepancies with Anthony’s third quarter financial report.

A special election will be funded by the county. Gloria said during the meeting that he is not certain what the cost will be as it depends on the plan approved. 

The last special election in Clark County occurred during the Republican primary for public administrator in 2018 because of potential double voting in a race decided by four votes.  Gloria estimated that the cost of that special election, which was conducted by mail, was $135,000.

In the 2018 special election, 74,000 Republican voters were sent ballots. In Clark County’s District C, there are more than 199,000 registered voters.

Approximately 77 percent of those active registered voters cast ballots in the commission race this year, but turnout in special elections has historically been lower. The 2018 Republican primary special election saw 36 percent voter turnout, while a smaller special election for Ward 5 on the Las Vegas City Council saw 6 percent turnout

Special elections in 2012 and 2011 saw 12 percent and 17 percent turnout, respectively.

This story was updated at 5:07 p.m. on Nov. 16, 2020 to correct a statistic about ballot discrepancies and include comment from Stavros Anthony's campaign.

Miller comes out on top in competitive race, winning seat on Clark County Commission by 10 votes

Democrat Ross Miller has been declared the winner in a contentious and exceedingly close race for the open District C seat on the powerful Clark County Commission, but Republican Stavros Anthony has indicated a recount may be coming.

The race was tight as results were released daily following Tuesday’s election, with the candidates at one point separated by a mere eight votes in a district where more than 153,000  votes were ultimately counted. But with the last of the provisional ballots counted and announced Saturday morning, and while those results won’t be certified until Monday, Miller ended the race with 10 more votes than Anthony, winning by a margin of only .003 percentage points.

“All week my campaign manager has modeled a single digit win, so I guess I’m just relieved to win by a double-digit vote blowout,” Miller told The Nevada Independent on Saturday morning.

The District C seat is currently held by Democrat Larry Brown, who was first elected in 2008 and reached his term limit this year. The district, which incorporates the northwest portion of the Las Vegas Valley, has more active registered Democrats than Republicans although neither party holds a majority. Democrats make up 38 percent of active registered voters in the region and Republicans account for 32 percent.

Initial results on election night put Miller ahead with a lead of only 308 votes, but ballots reported early the next morning put Las Vegas City Councilman Anthony ahead by more than 2,000. From that point, each ballot drop helped Miller slowly make up the difference before finally overtaking Anthony on Sunday morning. Roles reversed on Thursday and Saturday, with Anthony once again making up that difference and narrowing Miller’s lead.

Although Miller still had the lead in the final count, Anthony’s campaign said the candidate was “pleased” that the final margin was so small and indicated the Republican may seek a recount and is currently reviewing all his options.

“Like you, we just received these results at 5:45 a.m. today. We are looking at all the options available to us in order to ensure that the ballot count is accurate,” the campaign said in a statement Saturday morning.

Recounts in Nevada are not automatic. One must be requested and paid for either by the losing candidate or a voter within three days of the county certifying election results.

Anthony was selected as the mayor pro tem of Las Vegas earlier this year after serving 11 years on the Las Vegas City Council and previously worked in the Las Vegas Metro Police Department for 30 years. He was elected to the Board of Regents in 2002 and served two terms. In 2015, Anthony ran for mayor in Las Vegas, losing to incumbent Carolyn Goodman, and, in 2018, the candidate ran for Nevada’s 4th Congressional District seat before later dropping out of the race.

Anthony is no stranger to a recount, as his opponent Glenn Trowbridge requested one following Anthony’s first campaign for Las Vegas City Council in 2009. The recount in this race did not change the final outcome, and Anthony won the seat — also by 10 votes.

If Anthony does seek a recount, Miller says he does not expect it to affect the race’s outcome.

“My opinion is they’re unlikely to change the outcome because when the election officials do their job and they count, they get the votes accurate the first time. It’s unlikely to get a different result,” Miller said. “It would be scary if people asked for recounts and every time we got a different tally.”

Miller was the youngest secretary of state in Nevada history when he was elected to the seat in 2006 at age 30. He held the office for two terms before reaching his limit. In 2014, Miller ran for attorney general, losing a close race to Adam Laxalt. 

“I thought if I got into politics then the Clark County Commission would make a lot of sense. I had the opportunity to run for secretary of state, and I was honored to serve in that role,” he said. “But I left politics because I became disillusioned with how far apart the political parties have become … So, I think in a local seat you have a tremendous ability to affect peoples’ lives in ways that are often more focused on policy.”

Miller, the son of two-term Democratic former Gov. Bob Miller, said he’s been on the phone with commission incumbents and his family all week as he anxiously waited for results.

“In any of my dad’s races, we never faced anything this close,” Miller said. “I wouldn’t recommend this for other candidates. If you can avoid it, you certainly want to win by a landslide.”

Anthony has been a high spender in the commission race since January, spending more than $200,000 in the first quarter alone despite having no opponent in the Republican primary. Miller’s spending was lower in that first quarter but matched his opponent’s spending in quarter two when both politicians spent more than $60,000.

Anthony outspent Miller in the third quarter again, this time by nearly $290,0000. Miller raised issues with Anthony’s third quarter finance report, filing a complaint with the secretary of state that pointed out that Anthony had accepted donations that exceeded the $10,000 contribution limit from multiple donors and failed to include adequate identifying information for many contributors as well.

Miller also found fault with a $100,000 transfer Anthony made from his former congressional fund turned multicandidate PAC which made up a large amount of his funding throughout his commission campaign. Anthony’s campaign has since corrected some of those issues with the third quarter report.

In Miller’s initial complaint, his campaign argued that simply correcting the issues and returning excess funds wouldn’t be enough with just a week left until the election, as Anthony’s campaign had already “reaped the benefits” of the funding.

Miller has also condemned Anthony for comments the city councilman made on Twitter following the Black Lives Matter protests in Las Vegas and Reno, in which Anthony said that “rioters” should be held in a prison in Jean.

Races for the other three open seats on the commission this year yielded far clearer results. In Districts A and B, incumbents Michael Naft and Marilyn Kirkpatrick held their seats, and, in the dominantly Democratic District D, Nevada Democratic Party Chair William McCurdy II won the seat with more than 77 percent of the vote.

As the candidates wait for results to be certified and Miller waits for Anthony’s campaign’s decision regarding a recount, Miller says he has set his sights forward, focusing on the work he wants to do while on the commission.

“I ran for the seat, and that’s what I’m focused on,” he said. “I’m going to work as aggressively as I can to get up to speed on the issues … I want to try and figure out where I can most effectively plug in to help in what I think is going to be a very rocky and difficult time for our community.”

Clark County Commission seat and Reno Council seat too close to call; other local races have clearer outcomes

Though candidates for the presidential race and several major state races are neck and neck as of Wednesday, most local candidates have been able to relish a clear victory or hang their head in a loss.  

Five candidates for commission races in Clark and Washoe counties have emerged victorious based on preliminary results, including Washoe County Commission candidate Alexis Hill, a Democrat who shifted a historically Republican seat on the board. In Reno, Sparks and Carson City, local races heavily favored incumbents.

But not all local races have been decided.

In Clark County, Democrat Ross Miller and Republican Stavros Anthony are locked in a tight race for the District C seat on the state’s most powerful local board, with Anthony, a Las Vegas city councilman, retaining only a slight lead over Miller, the former secretary of state. The Reno City Council Ward 1 race has incumbent Jenny Brekhus and real estate agent J.D. Drakulich separated by about 100 votes with no clear winner.

Here's a look at the local races across the Silver State.

Clark County Commission

William McCurdy II, chair of the Nevada State Democratic Party, handily defeated three nonpartisan opponents in Democrat-dominated District D. McCurdy has been backed financially by multiple commission incumbents during his run, including Michael Naft, who also came out on top in his election.

Naft, the highest-funded candidate for the commission this year, had more than 52 percent of the vote in District A on Wednesday morning, putting him ahead of Republican opponent Michael Thomas. A second incumbent also held a seat Tuesday, with commission Chair Marilyn Kirkpatrick defeating opponents Kevin Williams and Warren Ross Markowitz in District B.

The race is still too close to call, though, in highly competitive District C, where former Secretary of State Ross Miller and Las Vegas City Councilman Stavros Anthony have gone head to head. The two candidates have been spending heavily to take control of the district where term-limited Commissioner Larry Brown is leaving an open seat.

Anthony currently holds a 2,000 vote lead over Miller with nearly 130,000 votes counted.

Washoe County Commission

Republican two-term incumbent Marsha Berkbigler and Democratic challenger Alexis Hill, the former arts, culture and events manager for the City of Reno, were on similar financial footing heading into the election, but Hill captured 55 percent of the votes as of Wednesday morning in an upset that shifts the board’s partisan makeup to three Republicans and two Democrats.

Hill told The Nevada Independent that she was excited about the initial results but noted that final results will not be available until all the votes are counted.

“I want to be respectful of this voting process and the voters who cast their ballots. I’m cautiously optimistic because vote counts are still coming in, but excited to get to work for this county,” Hill said. “My message to the voters, I think, resonated with the voters, which was to bring this region together to solve its most pressing issues.”

In Washoe County’s District 4 Commission race, Republican incumbent Vaughn Hartung won a decisive victory over Democrat Marie Baker, carrying about 58 percent of the vote. The District 4 commissioner represents Sparks, Spanish Springs and Wadsworth.

“I’d just like to thank my supporters. I’ve been truly blessed by the community and I look forward to serving this community over the next four years,” Hartung said. “We’ve made great strides and there’s still more to do — onwards and upwards.”

Reno City Council Races

Devon Reese, the city’s newest councilman, prevailed against businessman and perennial candidate Eddie Lorton in the city’s most vitriolic and highest spending race — the contest for the at-large position on the Reno City Council that represents the entire city.

Reese holds 55 percent of the votes as of Wednesday morning.

Two-term incumbent Oscar Delgado defeated librarian Rudy Leon, holding a 3,499-voter lead over the challenger who hoped to mobilize voters through a grassroots-style campaign.

Delgado outstripped Leon in both fundraising and spending during the run-up to the election and will be representing Ward 3 for the next four years.

"I always appreciate campaign season and the opportunity to discuss my record with the residents of Ward 3,” Delgado said via text message. “This campaign season presented some challenges because of COVID, but I’m honored that at the end of the day the voters chose me to represent them for four more years on the Council. I’m excited to get back to work for the people of Reno."

Incumbent Neoma Jardon bested challenger Darla Fink for the Ward 5 seat on the Reno City Council with 54 percent of the vote. The two-term councilwoman will serve her third and final term focused on prioritizing housing, homelessness and public safety.

The race is still too close to call in the hotly contested Reno City Council Ward 1 race where incumbent Jenny Brekhus was only leading real estate agent J.D. Drakulich by 104 votes as of Wednesday morning.

Sparks City Council

Both well-funded incumbents in the race for Sparks City Council maintained their seats over challengers that tried to paint them as disconnected to their respective wards.

Ward 1 Incumbent Donald Abbott defeated Wendy Stolyarov, a political activist and the owner of a public relations company that serves labor union clients, by just over 650 votes as of Wednesday to secure his second term. Abbott and Stolyarov both tried to establish themselves as the on-the-ground candidate best connected to the community. Abbott and Stolyarov were active fundraisers and spenders during the cycle, but Abbott dominated throughout in cash on hand.

Abbott, who was the youngest member to ever serve on the council when he won the seat at 26, attributed his win to his campaign volunteers, investment in social media advertising and accessibility to voters. 

"I know my ward, and I would even argue my whole city like the back of my hand … I try to be accessible to people and I think that shows," Abbott said. "There's a lot of cool stuff we got done in the last four [years], and I'm excited for another four and to see all the good work we can get done and help out the people of Sparks."

After being appointed to the Ward 3 seat in 2018, Paul Anderson, an account executive with Pilot Thomas Logistics, won his first election over University of Nevada, Reno staff member Quentin Smith with 57 percent of the vote. Though Smith made ground in fundraising as Election Day neared, Anderson held on to his large advantage in cash on hand throughout the race.

Anderson said he is excited to continue his work on the council. He said his first priority during his four-year term will be making sure the city goes in the "right direction" amid the fallout from the pandemic.

"This is gonna be a tough few years ahead of us because I truly believe the effects of COVID are going to be with us for a while," he said in an interview with The Nevada Independent. "One of my biggest concerns is that we're looking at making decisions to run our community well with limited funds. The budget shortfalls are going to continue for time to come."

Carson City Board of Supervisors

After unsuccessfully running for the Ward 2 Supervisor seat in 2012 and 2016, the third time was the charm for Maurice "Mo" White. He captured 58 percent of the vote as of Wednesday, defeating longtime Carson City School Board Trustee Stacie Wilke-McCulloch, who also ran unsuccessfully for the seat in 2012. 

White greatly out-raised and out-spent Wilke-McCulloch and campaigned as an outsider candidate who, as a retired diesel mechanic, would offer a different perspective than Wilke-McCulloch and existing supervisors who largely have administrative backgrounds.

"This is something I've been working on for a very long time and it's gratifying and humbling that the people of Carson City have chosen me," White said in an interview. "[The voters] recognize the shift that needs to be made on the Board of Supervisors. My experience and my background is going to add a substantially more diverse approach to how the board of supervisors governs Carson City."

For up-to-date elections results, head over to The Nevada Independent’s 2020 Election Results page. 

Biden narrowly leads Trump, but major Nevada races too close to call after Election Day

Joe Biden maintains the slimmest of leads in Nevada over President Donald Trump, while the other major congressional, statewide and local races significantly narrowed early Wednesday morning.

Biden and Democratic congressional candidates running in the state’s two competitive House districts — Susie Lee and Steven Horsford — maintain small leads over their Republican opponents but the races remain too close to call, particularly after a late batch of results from Clark County helped Republicans candidates there catch up to their Democrat opponents.

Down the ballot, it appears unlikely that Democrats will have supermajorities in either chamber of the Legislature next year, while a well-funded ballot question to take the Board of Regents out of the state Constitution appears in danger amid strong rural opposition.

More than 1.2 million Nevadans cast a ballot in the general election, although it’s unclear what the total turnout will be as last-minute ballots mailed in or dropped off have not yet been tallied.

Here’s a look at the status of major races on the 2020 ballot after initial results on Election Night:

Presidential:

The presidential race in Nevada remained too close to call Wednesday morning with former Vice President Joe Biden leading over President Donald Trump by a narrow 0.6 percentage points, or 7,647 votes. Hillary Clinton defeated Trump by 2.4 percentage points in the Silver State four years ago.

The presidential election itself also remained up in the air as of early Wednesday morning, with key races in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina and Georgia still yet to be decided.

Congressional: 

In a pair of the state’s most competitive congressional races, preliminary vote tallies favored incumbent Democrats — though by narrow margins.

In the hotly contested race for Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District in suburban Clark County, incumbent Democrat Susie Lee led Republican challenger Dan Rodimer by 1.5 percentage points, or 3,233 votes.

And in neighboring District 4, incumbent Democrat Steven Horsford led his Republican challenger, former one-term Assemblyman Jim Marchant, by 2.4 points, or a margin of 6,697 votes.

Meanwhile, incumbents in Nevada’s remaining two congressional districts sailed to victory after early returns, with Democratic Rep. Dina Titus securing Las Vegas’ District 1 by a 26.6 point margin, and Republican Rep. Mark Amodei winning Northern Nevada’s District 2 by a 15.8 margin as of early Wednesday morning.

Legislature:

Democratic dreams of holding super-majorities in both the Assembly and Senate appeared on thin ice after initial results were posted late Tuesday, with no clear decision yet in many of the swing districts that will determine super-majority control.

Two Las Vegas-area state Senate districts remained too close to call early Wednesday, with Democratic Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro and Democratic candidate Kristee Watson trailing their Republican opponents — April Becker and Carrie Buck, respectively. In Reno, incumbent Republican Sen. Heidi Gansert posted a notable lead over her Democratic opponent, Wendy Jauregui-Jackins, in a seat necessary for Democrats to take to capture a two-thirds majority in the state Senate.

In the Assembly, Democrats appeared to be in danger of losing three seats — two in Southern Nevada, Districts 4 and 37, and one in Northern Nevada, District 31 — while leading narrowly in a fourth competitive seat in Assembly District 29. Republicans are likely to keep control of the fifth competitive seat, Assembly District 2, where Republican Heidi Kasama is leading by a sizable margin over Democrat Radhika Kunnel.

Democrats can only afford to lose one of the four competitive seats they currently hold in the Assembly in order to retain their supermajority.

Other less competitive races that remained too close to call early Wednesday morning include Assembly Districts 21, 35 and 41.

Candidates who have won their races include:

  • Dina Neal (D) in SD4
  • Dallas Harris (D) in SD11
  • Pete Goicoechea (R) in SD19
  • Brittney Miller (D) in AD5
  • Shondra Summers-Armstrong (D) in AD6
  • Cameron "C.H." Miller (D) in AD7
  • Jason Frierson (D) in AD8
  • Steve Yeager (D) in AD9
  • Bea Duran (D) in AD11
  • Susie Martinez (D) in AD12
  • Maggie Carlton (D) in AD14
  • Howard Watts (D) in AD15
  • Cecilia Gonzalez (D) in AD16
  • Clara Thomas (D) in AD17
  • Venicia Considine (D) in AD18
  • Glen Leavitt (R) in AD23
  • Lisa Krasner (R) in AD26
  • Teresa Benitez-Thompson (D) in AD27
  • Edgar Flores (D) in AD28
  • Natha Anderson (D) in AD30
  • Alexis Hansen (R) in AD32
  • Shannon Bilbray-Axelrod (D) in AD34
  • Jim Wheeler (R) in AD39
  • PK O’Neill (R) in AD40
  • Alexander Assefa (D) in AD42

The 11 Assembly and three Senate candidates who were the only person running in their districts are automatically assumed to have won their races.

Local Government: 

Three Democrats emerged victorious in Clark County Commission races, but one contest was too close to call after initial results.

Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft, a Democrat, retained his District A seat, snagging 52 percent of the votes in initial returns. His opponent, Republican Michael Thomas, captured 48 percent. 

Clark County Commission Chair Marilyn Kirkpatrick, a Democrat, also coasted to re-election, with 53 percent of early returns in the District B race. Her challenger, Republican Kevin Williams, garnered 44 percent of early returns. 

Democrat William McCurdy, meanwhile, handily won the District D race, replacing term-limited Commissioner Lawrence Weekly. McCurdy captured 77 percent of the early returns, while his opponent, David Washington, who’s not affiliated with a political party, only earned 23 percent. 

The District C race for Clark County Commission was neck-and-neck based on early returns. Republican Stavros Anthony received 50.8 percent of early returns, while Democrat Ross Miller grabbed 49.2 percent. The winner in this race will replace term-limited Commissioner Larry Brown.

Up north, Republican incumbent Vaughn Hartung won the District 4 race for the Washoe County Commission. Hartung grabbed 58 percent of the early returns, while his competitor, Marie Baker, snagged 42 percent. 

In the other Washoe County Commission race — for District 1 — Democrat Alexis Hill defeated Republican incumbent Marsha Berkbigler in an election upset. Hill emerged with 55 percent of the early returns, while Berkbigler received 45 percent.

Three Reno City Council members were re-elected to the board, but one race remains too close to call. Reno City Councilman Oscar Delgado won the Ward 3 race, capturing about 63 percent of the early returns. His opponent, Rudy Leon, won about 37 percent of the vote. 

Councilwoman Neoma Jardon was re-elected to represent Ward 5, winning about 54 percent of the early returns, while her opponent, Darla Fink, received about 46 percent of the vote. 

Councilman Devon Reese defeated his opponent, Eddie Lorton, to continue serving in the council’s at-large seat. Reese snagged roughly 55 percent of the early returns, while Lorton received about 45 percent.

But the Ward 1 race remains close. Reno City Councilwoman Jenny Brekhus retained a slight 104-vote lead in a closely-watched race against real estate agent J.D. Drakulich. 

Supreme Court

District Court Judge Doug Herndon defeated Assemblyman Ozzie Fumo in a race for an open Nevada Supreme Court seat, capturing about 47 percent of the early returns. Fumo received about 36 percent of the vote. “None of these Candidates” made up about 18 percent of the early returns.

Herndon was running to replace Associate Chief Justice Mark Gibbons, who announced last year that he would not run for re-election. 

Fumo, who has practiced law since 1996 and served as an adjunct professor at the UNLV Boyd School of Law, won the support of progressives. Herndon, a former deputy district attorney who has sat on the bench since 2005, received support from a PAC primarily funded by Sheldon Adelson.

Ballot Questions

The campaign for Question 1, a measure that would remove the Board of Regents of the Nevada System of Higher Education from the Nevada Constitution, remained too close to call after initial returns.

However, all four other ballot measures have prevailed. They include:

  • Question 2, which amends the Nevada Constitution to permit same-sex marriage
  • Question 3, which restructures the Board of Pardons
  • Question 4, which enshrines a voter’s bill of rights in the Nevada Constitution
  • Question 6, which raises the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standards calling for greater use of renewable energy

Election Preview: Democrats largely lead in funding for seats on the state’s most powerful board

Clark County Government Center

Nevada’s most powerful local government body has been faced with major challenges this year, including a budget slashed as a result of a pandemic-induced economic downturn and the pressure of helping to reopen the economy in the state’s most populous county.

Ten candidates are entering the final weeks of their campaigns for the Clark County Commission, campaigns begun months before COVID-19 was on their radar. Democrats are dramatically outpacing their challengers in funding for three of these spots while a fourth is host to a high-dollar contest between two high profile politicians.

Of the commission’s seven seats, four are being contested this cycle, including those of the commission’s chair, Marilyn Kirkpatrick, in District B and incumbent Michael Naft, who’s raised more than $1 million since his 2019 appointment to the board, in District A. 

Crowded Democratic primaries in Districts C and D have whittled the field to two high profile nominees. In District C, Democrat and former Secretary of State Ross Miller is taking on Las Vegas City Councilman Stavros Anthony, a Republican challenger in a district where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans, but neither party holds a majority.

District D sees Democratic Party Chair William McCurdy II take on three nonpartisan opponents, with former Las Vegas fire chief David Washington putting up the strongest fight. McCurdy has been heavily endorsed and financially backed by commission members in the only up-for-grabs district with a Democratic majority of registered voters.

Commission members earn $86,000 per year, far more for their positions than state legislators make for their part time work, and whoever wins a seat on this board will oversee three quarters of the state’s population and one of its most famous and lucrative assets — the Las Vegas Strip.

District C

District C, which incorporates the northwest portion of the Las Vegas Valley, is host to a high-spending faceoff between Republican Las Vegas City Councilman Stavros Anthony and the former secretary of state, Democrat Ross Miller.

Democrats make up 38 percent of registered voters in District C while Republicans make up 32 percent and nonpartisans account for 23. Democrat Larry Brown, who currently holds the seat, has reached his term limit after serving on the board since 2009. 

Anthony, who was recently appointed mayor pro tem for the City of Las Vegas, is fighting to overcome Democrat’s slight registration lead and take the seat back for his party. The city councilman ran unopposed in June’s primary election while Miller won a six-Democrat race for the nomination with 38 percent of the vote.

Miller has been critical of his Republican opponent, condemning him on Twitter for statements Anthony made about holding “violent rioters” in Jean prison following Black Lives Matter protests in June and referring to the councilman as a “Trump crony.”

“I think there’s two issues that, in my mind, people care about,” Miller said during an interview with The Nevada Independent. “One is how to put the economy back on track and the other is making sure we keep people safe, both in terms of public health and also public safety. In both of those areas, I’ve got a lot of experience.”

Clark County Commission candidate Ross Miller.

When asked about his experience with economic issues and how he’d handle budget shortages in the county, Miller, the son of former Gov. Bob Miller, referenced his time serving on the Board of Economic Development under former Gov. Brian Sandoval as well as his two-term tenure as secretary of state during the last economic recession.

“My agency implemented deeper cuts than perhaps any other… and there weren’t easy answers,” he said. “We had to cut in all areas. I would imagine that the county process will be very similar.”

One department he believes should be prioritized when it comes to funding, Miller says, is the Las Vegas Metro Police Department. The Clark County Commission along with the Las Vegas City Council determines the budget of the LVMPD, and the county contributes 64 percent of its funding.

Miller shares this viewpoint with his opponent. Anthony, a retired police captain who worked with Metro for 29 years.

Clark County Commission candidate Stavros Anthony.

“My priority is to make sure that Metro is funded appropriately,” Anthony said. “That we have the best paid and the best equipped and the best trained police officers in the country and that we have code enforcement officers that are out there making sure that we have great neighborhoods.”

Although both candidates say public safety funding is vital to helping District C recover from the economic devastation of COVID-19, they have different priorities when it comes to helping the region become more economically resilient moving forward.

Anthony said that his priority, first and foremost, is opening businesses and getting people back to work. He intends to focus on reducing regulations, taxes, and licensing fees in order to help current businesses grow and encourage new businesses to open.

“Once people get back to work then they can start taking care of their families and they can start paying their tax bills,” he said, going on to emphasize that government mandates “have to start opening up” to allow people to get back to work. At the moment in the county, restaurants, stores, and event venues still have capacity limits in place to ensure social distancing.

“I think if businesses want their customers to wear a mask in their business, customers are going to want to wear a mask,” Anthony said.

Miller indicated that his approach may be more cautious, deferring to state guidance that he believes will ensure businesses “reopen safely,” while still acknowledging the need to reopen the economy for workers.

“I think it’s critical both to expand as safely as possible and try to reopen our economy,” he said.

According to Miller, the county needs to set its sights on long-term solutions that will ensure economic diversity and prevent losses in gaming from devastating the region.

“We can potentially move much more aggressively towards the development of many other target sectors,” Miller said. “Beyond gaming, where we’ve suffered so many layoffs.”

Both candidates have reported large contributions and high spending in the second quarter of the year. Anthony’s spending began even earlier: the candidate reported more than $200,000 in spending heading into the primary — even though he was running unopposed.

In the second quarter, Anthony reported $45,700 in contributions including major donations from NV Energy, developer Touchstone Living, which regularly presents development projects to the planning commission, and philanthropist Kris Engelstad McGarry, trustee of the Engelstad Family Foundation. He spent more than $63,000 on consulting and advertising in the same quarter and reported a cash on hand balance of nearly $212,000.

Miller has also seen large donations from developers, including $5,000 from Brass Cap Development, which recently began construction on a new industrial space located near Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, a project approved by the commission. Both candidates also received $5,000 donations from South Point. Miller received financial support from the Southern Nevada Building Trades Union’s PAC. The union also endorsed Miller in the race.

Additionally, Miller received a $5,000 donation from the campaign of the commission’s District F incumbent, Justin Jones.

Miller’s campaign reported $89,741 in spending, more than $74,000 of which went to Consili, Inc., a Democratic campaign management agency based in Las Vegas and run by political consultant Jim Ferrence. At the end of quarter two, Miller’s cash on hand balance was $3,640.

District D

In the heavily Democratic District D, which includes portions of North Las Vegas as well as downtown Las Vegas’ Fremont Street, Assemblyman and Nevada Democratic Party Chairman William McCurdy II is hoping to transition from Legislature to the County Commission. 

He faces three nonpartisan challengers on his quest, including a former Las Vegas fire chief with a history of community involvement, David Washington. Henry Thorns and Stanley Washington are also campaigning for the seat without a party affiliation.

McCurdy, who has represented District 6 in the Nevada Assembly since 2017, says that he sees “untapped potential” in Clark County’s District D.

Clark County Commission candidate William McCurdy II.

“I’m passionate about my district. I’ve been here my entire life as well in residence, and my family, it’s where my family has been since the early 40s,” McCurdy said. “I believe that we haven’t achieved our truest potential in terms of economic development or economic investment, and I believe that we can do a better job in terms of the social infrastructure.”

McCurdy pointed to long-term economic development focused on highlighting the district’s culture and ethnic diversity, expanding workforce development in order to help the area’s homeless population on their path to self-sufficiency, and improving resources for seniors in the region as some of his major goals if he’s elected.

While the pandemic has not changed those goals for him, he says it has changed his timeline, as his short-term focus is on providing his constituents with resources to help with the health and economic impacts of the virus. He says that his experience in the Legislature during the first several months of this crisis will position him perfectly to do this.

“My legislative experience will help me to be able to perform and be ready to go, day one,” he said. “COVID has greatly altered the way that I would have been going in, but having an ability to deal with that at a legislative level, work really closely with lawmakers who are helping us get the resources that we need from the federal level, will perfectly position me to be the greatest advocate that I can.”

McCurdy reported more than $88,000 in contributions in the second quarter of the year, including a $10,000 donation from the campaign of District A incumbent Naft.

Naft isn’t the only commission incumbent to show financial support for the assemblyman, who also received a $5,000 donation from District F incumbent Jones. McCurdy also received a $10,000 donation from the Southern Nevada Stronger PAC, which lists Jones as its main contact. The campaign also reported donations in the second quarter from Eva Segerblom and Carl Segerblom, two children of District E incumbent Tick Segerblom.

McCurdy’s campaign has spent $80,714 during this same period on office expenses, consulting and advertising fees, and special event costs. More than $10,000 in expenses were reported by the campaign for Consili, Inc., the same agency utilized by both Miller and Naft.

While Thorns and Stanley Washington have reported no contributions, spending, or cash on hand in either of the year’s first two quarters, David Washington has had a more financially active campaign.

Washington reported $6,915 in donations to the campaign last quarter and spent $6,751 in the same period. The majority of his spending went towards advertising expenses and a special event held in June at Chili’s Grill and Bar in Las Vegas. The candidate’s campaign reported a cash on hand balance of $11,841 at the end of June.

Clark County Commission candidate David Washington.

David Washington is a member of the Clark County Economic Opportunity Board, which administers Economic Opportunity Act funding to create programs and provide resources with the goal of helping low-income families achieve self-sufficiency. In an email to The Nevada Independent, David Washington said he is running for the position because of his experience in public safety as a fire chief.

“I have 29 years experience in a leadership role where I was responsible for budgets and staff supervision. Eight years, I served at the senior staff level. My last six years, I served as fire chief for the City of Las Vegas with a $100 million dollar budget,” Washington said. 

He also cited his time on the Governor’s Commission on Homeland Security. The fire chief of each county in the state with a population above 100,000 has a seat on the commission, and Washington fulfilled that role during his time with the department.

If elected to the commission, Washington says, he would attempt to help the county recover economically by continuing policies such as the county’s decision to suspend labor contracts in April, a decision that Washington praised. When asked about his budget priorities, he referred to public safety as a “big expense to any government agency” but said he would need to review all department’s budgets before deciding what to preserve and what to cut.

While McCurdy said he didn’t feel comfortable citing specific budget priorities, his views on how to better position the county to be more resilient in the future focus less on economics and more on social services. The candidate referenced better equipping food distribution sites as well as expanding programs to help those in danger of and struggling with homelessness as essential to creating a more resilient region.

“There were some people who were already one paycheck shy of losing it all,” the Democratic candidate said. “So, what kind of services can we provide him and what kind of emergency funds do we have put up that we can work with our community stakeholders and partners to capture those folks before they lose their home?”

The District D seat is held by the commission’s vice chairman, Lawrence Weekly, who has reached his term limit this year. It is the only district with a contested seat this cycle with a Democratic majority, with Democrats making up 50 percent of active registered voters while nonpartisans come in second with 25 percent and Republicans trail at 13 percent.

Neither Henry Thorns nor Stanley Washington responded to attempts to reach them for interviews for this story.

District A

In District A in the south of the county, incumbent Michael Naft is defending his seat against Republican challenger Michael Thomas, spending more than any other candidate for the board in an effort to preserve what he calls his role as his “neighbor’s representative.”

“I believe it is my responsibility to help make Clark County more accessible and user-friendly, and have been devoted to providing the services people need,” Naft said in an email to The Nevada Independent.

Clark County Commission candidate Michael Naft.

Naft, who was appointed to his seat in 2019 by Gov. Steve Sisolak, faced one opponent in the Democratic primary whom he defeated, garnering 74 percent of the vote. Democrats make up 39 percent of active registered voters in his district while Republicans make up 31 percent and nonpartisans account for 25 percent.

Naft has been spending heavily throughout his campaign, reporting more than $343,000 in expenses since January, including more than $194,000 in quarter two alone. His spending has been on a variety of things such as events at local businesses, consulting fees with multiple campaign strategy agencies both local and national, and contributions to other Democratic campaigns, including District D candidate William McCurdy.

Naft also saw many large donations during the second quarter, reporting $107,000 in contributions, the most of any commission candidate. He’s received major donations from NV Energy, the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Henderson Chamber of Commerce and the Nevada Service Employees Union.

The incumbent has also been endorsed by the Culinary Union, the Las Vegas Police Protective Association and the Nevada Conservation League, among others. His reported cash on hand balance is $754,279.

Naft says that serving on the commission during the COVID-19 pandemic has changed “everything” about his priorities for the county.

“I have responded to this health crisis with a two-pronged approach … We have focused on managing health and wellness as a means to mitigate the economic impact,” he said. “I have advocated for utilizing a portion of our federal allocation of CARES Act dollars to help our local small business community.  By awarding grants to local businesses we have been able to support the people they employ and the businesses they work with.”

Naft’s opponent, Michael Thomas, a retired police officer, has reported no contributions, spending, or cash on hand in either quarter this year. Thomas ran for the District A seat against then-incumbent Sisolak in 2016 as well, receiving 43 percent of the vote.

Thomas did not respond to requests for an interview for this story.

District B

Democratic Commission Chair Marilyn Kirkpatrick is running a re-election campaign in northern Clark County’s District B against two opponents, Independent Warren Markowitz and Republican Kevin Williams.

Kirkpatrick has served on the commission since 2015 and was voted in as chair in 2019. Although the short-term needs of the county have changed in the past several months, Kirkpatrick says the pandemic has not changed her long-term priorities for the region.

Clark County Commission candidate Marilyn Kirkpatrick.

“We have to continue to move forward … There [are] some things that I might have to push aside for a little bit,” she said. “I wouldn’t say that it has impacted our priorities. More so, probably, highlighted the need for the priority.”

Kirkpatrick was the only candidate for the seat to report contributions and spending during the first two quarters of the year. She has held the seat since 2015 and previously served as a Nevada assemblywoman. She has received major endorsements from Nevada state AFL-CIO, the Culinary Union, and the Las Vegas Police Protective Association, among others.

The chair listed public safety and the police department as one of her top two priorities when it comes to funding in the county. Her second major priority, she says, is social services, including programs addressing homelessness and truancy that she has spearheaded during her time on the board. The county provides social services throughout the region, for every city in the county in addition to unincorporated areas.

“We also have a huge responsibility to ensure social services needs are met,” she said. “And we are really the safety net for many, many constituents out there, regardless of what entity they live in.”

During quarter two, Kirkpatrick reported $31,850 in contributions including a $1,500 donation from the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce. 

The candidate also received $30,000 in the first two quarters from six companies that are all registered with the same Republic Services address in Las Vegas. The waste management company has a franchise agreement with the county and with the City of Las Vegas and operates the region’s landfill.

Kirkpatrick said that she does not think any companies have “tried” to give over the contribution limit and that the Republic Services contract with the county was in place “long before” she started on the commission. The company’s current agreement with the county was put in place in 1999 and extends through 2035.

“I don’t look at my campaign contributions, and, in that respect, it doesn’t get anybody any more than my constituents,” she said.

The chair has spent more than $78,000 this quarter on a variety of expenses related to special events, office supplies and consulting. She reported nearly $16,000 in expenses paid to Accretive Consulting, a firm based in Las Vegas and owned by Kami Dempsey-Goudie. Her cash on hand balance at the end of June was $289,520.

Similar to District A, Democrats make up a plurality but not a majority of voters in District B. Active registered voters in the region are 40 percent Democrat, 31 percent Republican and 23 percent nonpartisan. Additionally, 4 percent of voters in the district are registered with the Independent American Party.

Markowitz, a member of the Independent American Party, is a Las Vegas attorney and founder of the Markowitz Law Firm. The candidate says that he’s running to “return the county and it’s government back to the electorate without playing favorites.”

Clark County Commission candidate Warren Ross Markowitz.

One of the candidate’s major priorities is reopening the county, both by allowing businesses to resume operations at full capacity and opening schools in the Clark County School District, which are currently employing an online learning model.

“I would advance the concept of reversing the quarantine of the healthy, to that of the sick by moving to open businesses to their full capacity, removing feel good ideas that have little or no benefit, and getting schools back open,” he said in an email to The Nevada Independent.

The commission has oversight of business operations and can set stricter standards than the state but has to abide by minimum statewide standards that set capacity limits. The board also does not make decisions about school policies in the region; those decisions are made by the board of trustees.

Markowitz has run for a variety of seats in the past, including unsuccessful campaigns for state Senate, state controller, Clark County School Board trustee and the District B seat on the commission in 2012.

Republican candidate Williams, the facility director for Boyd Gaming, also ran for the seat against Kirkpatrick in 2016, receiving 42 percent of the vote. While he didn’t report any contributions or spending during the first two quarters of the year, his quarter three report shows $250 in contributions and $34 in expenses, leaving the candidate with a cash on hand balance of $148 at the end of September.

Williams did not respond to requests for interviews for this story.

This story was updated on October 14, 2020, at 12:05 p.m. to include comments from District B candidate Warren Ross Markowitz.

Clark County election officials recommend large-scale mail-in ballot distribution for general election

A ballot cast in a mailbox

Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria recommended to the Clark County Commission on Friday that voters be sent mail-in ballots for November’s general election, just as they were in the June primary, but with more in-person options too. 

The recommendation was made based on Gloria’s expectation that not only will the county see 90 percent voter turnout, but voting sites and poll workers will still be subject to social distancing requirements as a result of COVID-19.

“Coronavirus will need to be dealt with in the next election. There’s no reason to believe that it’s mysteriously going to go away. We’ll still have to make sure that we’re social distancing at all of our polling places,” Gloria said during a special meeting. “Which creates an extreme challenge for us when we’re trying to serve, what I think will be a 90 percent turnout in the general election.”

The commission generally agreed with Gloria’s recommendations, with Commissioners Marilyn Kirkpatrick, Justin Jones, Larry Brown, Michael Naft and Tick Segerblom all expressing support.

According to Gloria, if mail-in ballots are not automatically sent to registered voters, the plan would be to send over 900,000 mail ballot requests in Clark County, which would then have to be returned so the election department can send out the requested ballot. This could be confusing for voters and difficult for election workers.

“When voters receive those, they think that maybe their voter registration has been cancelled, although it’s a mail ballot request,” he said. “If they choose to use them and send them in, there will be a tremendous burden on my staff to get those manually entered into the system.”

Jones expressed concerns over the cost of sending out inactive ballots to voters in November, a decision that was controversial in the primary election and has resulted in an active lawsuit filed by Republicans in the state.

Gloria stated that the cost of sending out the 200,000 ballots to inactive voters was more than $200,000, not including the costs incurred if those ballots were returned undeliverable. In order for a voter to be considered inactive, a piece of election mail sent to that voter must come back undeliverable, but inactive voters do not have their registration disqualified and can still vote by updating their addresses.

“Because in the primary there was no other way for people to vote, it seemed like that was a necessary thing,” Jones said. “Because there is an alternative means to vote in the general — in person — I don’t think that the cost is probably justified, certainly not to those for whom you received returned ballots.”

Brown also raised concerns about the potential for individuals to double vote, casting one by mail and one in person. Gloria assured the commission that the multiple checks in place would prevent two ballots from the same voter being counted.

“We’ve been voting mail ballots for a long time, so these processes are already in place. It was always the ability of the voter to come in and say, ‘Yeah, I asked for a mail ballot but decided I didn’t want to vote with it,’” Gloria said.

While discussing the process of vote canvassing earlier in the meeting, Gloria also mentioned that only one provisional ballot cast in person in the Clark County primary had been rejected because the voter cast multiple ballots.

In addition to mailing out ballots to registered voters, Gloria said that election officials are looking to provide 35 in-person voting sites where voting machines would be used, including 20 locations open permanently throughout the early voting period at government facilities.

“By using government facilities, I will be able to control the social distancing in all of these sites, which I think is very important,” he said.

The commission was not able to officially vote on election processes for the general election on Friday and was limited to making recommendations.

Election results: Primary whittles field of candidates for local government positions across Nevada

Nevada voters weighed in on a range of local government races in Tuesday’s primary, in some cases handing seats outright to candidates and in other cases narrowing the field to two for the general election in November.

Incumbents made strong showings in lively races for Reno City Council and Sparks City Council, while two big-name Democratic candidates separated themselves from the pack in Clark County Commission primaries.

Here are the highlights of some of those races. Check back for updates as more results are released.

Assemblyman Will McCurdy and Controller Catherine Byrne on the first day of the 2019 legislative session on Monday, Feb. 4, 2019 in Carson City, Nev. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Incumbent Naft coasts to victory in Clark County Commission race; two major players in the Democratic Party take strong leads

Four seats are up for election this year on the Clark County Commission, the state’s most powerful local government body, and incumbent Michael Naft along with two big names in the Democratic Party have taken decisive leads in their races.

District C, the Democratic-leaning district in the northwest region of the Las Vegas Valley, had a crowded primary with six Democrats vying for the nomination. Commissioner Larry Brown is leaving the seat open after reaching his term limit this year.

Former Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller has taken a strong lead with 38.8 percent of the vote, followed by Hunter Cain, the former director of community outreach for Rep. Dina Titus, who is in second with 24.7 percent. 

Miller himself said he was “very encouraged” by these initial results.

“We’ve now lapped the field in a seven person race,” Miller said. “So that’s very encouraging, so we’ll wait for the rest of the votes, but we’re starting to look forward to the general election.”

If Miller holds the lead, he will compete against Republican Stavros Anthony in the November general election. Anthony is a Las Vegas city councilman and has been the biggest spender in the race for a commission seat thus far. 

“I think that [my] message will be in stark contrast to my general election opponent who is a career politician and really, I think, embodies, this Trump philosophy,” Miller said of Anthony. “He’s a Trump crony, his entire career, and, clearly, we need to have a different direction.”

When reached for comment on Wednesday, Anthony said “I support President Trump. I don’t know what a ‘Trump Crony’ is, but I support him.”

Anthony added that while it was “nice” to have an idea who he would be competing against in November, it would not change his campaign strategy.

“It doesn’t matter who wins the Democratic primary. I’m going to run my campaign and get out there and tell people why they should vote for me, and why I’m the best person to represent District C,” he said.

District D incorporates much of North Las Vegas and parts of Downtown Las Vegas including Fremont Street. Commissioner Lawrence Weekly has also reached his term limit this year and leaves an open seat.

This heavily Democratic district had the most crowded primary, with seven Democrats. The winner will face three non-partisans in the general election.

Assemblyman William McCurdy II, chairman of the Nevada State Democratic Party, is leading Democrats by a large margin against several big-name candidates after the first round of results. Others in the race include Tanya Flanagan, president of the board of directors for the breast cancer foundation Susan G. Komen Nevada, North Las Vegas City Councilman Isaac Barron and State Sen. Mo Denis. 

McCurdy received 42.6 percent of the initial vote. Flanagan has the second highest share with 20.5 percent.

In District A, which incorporates southern portions of Clark County, Democratic incumbent Michael Naft faced only one competitor in the primary, former casino worker Ken Patrick O’Sullivan.

Presumptive winner Naft has taken a commanding lead, with Thursday's results showing him receiving approximately 74.2 percent of the vote.

“Particularly as this is my first time on a ballot, it’s particularly humbling to have the support of so many thousands of my base,” Naft said in response to Wednesday morning’s results. “It gets me excited to continue the work from the last 18 months and work hard to continue to gain that support from my constituents in November.”

In the general election in November, Naft will take on Republican Michael Thomas, who had no competitors in the primary. Naft, who has been endorsed by the Culinary Union and Gov. Steve Sisolak, is the heavy favorite in the general election in this district, where 39 percent of voters are registered Democrats, compared to 31 percent registered as Republicans.

Democratic incumbent and Commission Chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick is also up for re-election this cycle but was unopposed in the primary. She represents District B on the commission, which includes the northeastern portion of Clark County.

Republican Kevin M. Williams and Independent Warren Ross Markowitz will be on the ballot in the general after running unopposed in Tuesday’s primary.

— Kristyn Leonard

Incumbents hold lead in Reno Council primary races, challengers prepare themselves for November

Attorney Devon Reese is sworn in as Reno's at-large City Council member on Feb. 15, 2018. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

After Reno City Council candidates spent months campaigning, writing op-eds and adjusting campaign strategies to the pandemic, preliminary results for the four nonpartisan races show incumbents have decisive leads over their challengers.

Incumbents defending their seats in every city ward hold a lead over challengers, but the top two candidates from each race will advance into the November general election.

For the Reno City Council at-large position, which represents residents of the entire city but will be replaced in 2024 with a sixth ward, attorney and council vice-mayor Devon Reese will square off in the general election with perennial candidate and businessman Eddie Lorton.

As of Saturday morning, Reese leads the primary race with 47.7 percent of the vote, 17.6 percentage points more than Lorton. The other two candidates, Joe Moskowitz and Michael Walker, received 11.8 and 10.4 percent of the vote, respectively.

In an interview Wednesday morning, Reese said he was humbled by the support in the primary, but that the work is not over and he wants to continue addressing social and economic inequalities, both in his campaign and his capacity as a sitting council member.

“I'm going to wake up and do all the good for as many people as I can for as long as I can,” Reese said. “For me, it is going to be those people-first issues that drive the conversation about our campaign ... housing, our unsheltered population, racial inequality issues and quality of life issues.”

Lorton is optimistic about the future.

“I'm feeling very positive about our campaign. This is a new process for all of us. We are just waiting for the final results,” Lorton told The Nevada Independent in a text message on Wednesday.

In a Facebook post later in the day, Lorton thanked his supporters and criticized the voting system.

“This is something new that we have never been through before with alot [sic] of issues. I hope the voting system is back on track for the general election,” he wrote. “We always gain alot [sic] of ground in the General election, we didn't even do TV in the primary. Let's carry on and win this, our City really needs strong good leadership at this time.”

The three-way race to represent Reno’s historic neighborhoods in Ward 1 was close, but two-term Councilwoman Jenny Brekhus and real estate agent J.D. Drakulich are edging out Britton Griffith, vice president of her family’s development firm Reno Engineering Corporation.

Brekhus has received about 45.6 percent of the votes and Drakulich came in a close second with around 35.4 percent. Griffith, who had been endorsed by Mayor Hillary Schieve last fall, hovered around 19 percent.

“Thank you Ward 1 Voters for last night’s primary win. And to my family, friends and supporters also, I could not have done this without you,” Brekhus wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday. “Congratulations to my two opponents also. You demonstrated your care for the residents of our ward in stepping up to represent. I am so excited to continue the conversations with voters into November!”

Drakulich also sent out a message on Facebook, thanking his supporters and well-wishers.

“This is a tough race, and I can’t begin to express my gratitude to everyone who believes in me. The incredible amount of support I have received is truly humbling,” he wrote. “Thank you for voting! We’ve got a long road in front of us until November...but we are ready!”

Griffith congratulated Drakulich and Brekhus via social media, and noted that the race “is just the beginning of things for our Biggest Little City.”

In the general election, Councilwoman Neoma Jardon and retired public administrator Darla Fink will face one another to determine who will represent Ward 5, which includes Northwest Reno, the University of Nevada, Reno, the Old Northwest and various residential neighborhoods as well as parts of downtown.

So far, Jardon leads the race with 52.6 percent of the votes and Fink, the second-highest vote getter, holds about 26.9 percent of the vote. The other two candidates did not break 13 percent.

Jardon’s goals center around increasing housing inventory, working with vulnerable populations, addressing safety issues, improving the city’s financial stability, supporting local businesses, and helping the city grow in a smart and sustainable way.

She emphasizes the need for the city and other regional partners to work together to create a stronger and more stable community.

"I'm incredibly thankful for the many who turned out to vote and supported me in the primary. The work before us as a community is significant," Jardon told The Nevada Independent. "I commit to continue to put in the work for our community and to lead our City in a positive direction."

Fink’s platform is dedicated to increasing public safety, honesty and transparency and responsible city growth, which she says on her campaign website “relies on citizen involvement and accountable representation.” 

On Twitter, Fink sent out a message of gratitude to voters and volunteers.

“It is time now to focus on November with the goal of providing a representative to Ward 5 who will always fight for YOUR interests at the Reno City Council,” she wrote. “I know our shared values in social justice, public health and responsive representation will create a more inclusive Ward 5.”

As candidates move on to the general election, they will face questions about how they plan to tackle homelessness, affordable housing, budget issues and police reform.

— Tabitha Mueller

Incumbents leap ahead of competitors in Sparks City Council race but likely not enough to evade a general election

Sparks City Council candidate Wendy Stolyarov campaign in Reno on June 9, 2020.

In the race for Sparks City Council, well-funded incumbents have a lead over their slew of challengers, but not enough to claim the seat outright in June. 

Incumbents Donald Abbott of Ward 1 and Paul Anderson of Ward 3 both held significant leads as of Saturday morning — 46.3 and 45.1 percent, respectively — but are falling short of the 50 percent plus one needed to reclaim their seats automatically. 

"It will be a fun next five months — let the fun begin," Abbott said in an interview with The Nevada Independent. "I love running for office. I love talking to my neighbors. I love that part of it. It's a fun time."

Abbott said he looks forward to continuing reaching out to community members, particularly those who did not vote, and hopes it is safe to knock on doors soon after coronavirus hampered the campaigning process. 

It appears he will face Wendy Stolyarov, who has 32.7 percent of the vote, in November. Both made their volunteer work and involvement in their community a central part of their campaign, but it was Abbott who dominated in fundraising. He ended the first quarter with more than $40,000 in available cash more than Stolyarov, a political activist who had previously worked for the Nevada Libertarian Party during the 2017 legislative session.

Other challengers include Kristine Grimes, a retired civilian employee of the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office who had 15.7 percent of the vote, and Dick Kirtley, a retired maintenance staffer for the City of Sparks, with 5.6 percent.

Like Abbott, Anderson said he hopes he can engage with the community once more as social distancing restrictions are being lifted.

"I'm just excited that it's looking like I get to move on in November and continue serving the City of Sparks," Anderson said the day after the election. "It's definitely been an honor since I was appointed. We're doing great things, and I look forward to continuing that."

Anderson was appointed to the seat in 2018 and spent $9,500 in mostly advertising and consulting in his attempt to keep it. His funding overshadowed other competitors; he ended the first quarter with $27,000 more in cash on hand than his closest opponent in funding, Quentin Smith, who had $1,000.

The race to compete against Anderson in November is close.

As of Sunday, it appears Anderson will face Smith, who has 18.4 percent of the vote. But Diaz and Andrea Tavener, a development officer for the Washoe County Library System, are close behind, with 18 percent and 12.9 percent of the vote, respectively. 

Opponent Dan Ness has 5.5 percent of the vote.

Facing no challengers, Ward 5 incumbent Kristopher Dahir, a pastor and administrator at a private Christian school, will reclaim his seat.

— Savanna Strott

Carson City Ward 4 has a new supervisor, Bagwell has wide lead in mayor race, close contest in Ward 2

Campaign signs on a Carson City business on June 4, 2020. Photo by Michelle Rindels.

One race for the Carson City Board of Supervisors ended Election Night with an evident victor, although it’s still too early to say what the results mean for two other municipal races. 

In Carson City, candidates who get over 50 percent of the vote during the primary take the seat automatically and avoid a general election in November. 

Lisa Schuette claimed the Ward 4 supervisor seat early on in Election Night. As of Sunday, Schuette has 65.5 percent of the vote. In a distant second place is Ronald Bratsch, a security manager and Marines veteran, with 18.8 percent of the vote.

"I am really just thrilled and grateful, and I appreciate everyone who voted for me," Schuette said in a phone call on Election Night. "I grew up in Carson City. I care deeply about our community, and I'm very excited about moving forward." 

Once in office, Schuette, the founder of the Carson Animal Services Initiative that helps animals and pet owners in the city, said her main priority will be on getting back on track with pre-pandemic progress and preparing for a potential second wave of COVID-19. She wants to be transparent in decision-making and help the community understand the process behind projects and plans.

During the campaign season, Schuette crushed her opponents in fundraising and spending in the first quarter. She out-raised her closest competitor in funding — Michael "Mike" Smith, a program manager of the American Job Center of Nevada — by more than $10,000, though $5,000 of her almost $13,000 came from various donations from herself and her husband. 

Smith, who moved to Carson City three years ago, took 15.8 percent of the vote.

The races for mayor and Ward 2 supervisor still lack clear results. 

In the five-way race for mayor, Supervisor Lori Bagwell leads with 50.4 percent of the vote as of Sunday. Although early results show Bagwell meets the 50 percent plus one requirement to win mayor outright, more votes are needed to declare Bagwell the winner with certainty. If the official results on June 19 show that Bagwell does not have the majority of votes, she will face a challenger in November. 

"I'm excited to represent the people of Carson City," she said in an interview on Election Night. "I'm most appreciative of their faith in me."

Bagwell describes financial responsibility as "near and dear to my heart," and says she will focus on ensuring the city has enough in savings if elected mayor. She has held the Ward 3 supervisor seat since 2014 and put budgeting high on her list of issues during her campaign.

In second place, with 23 percent of the vote, is Jim Shirk, a former supervisor who first ran for mayor in 2008. He often took to Facebook during his campaign to tell voters not to choose Bagwell, criticizing her approval of construction projects on Carson Street that some critics have said are unnecessary and will increase traffic. He also criticized her for accepting a campaign donation from the company with which the Board of Supervisors contracted for citywide trash pick up. 

Bagwell ended the first quarter with $9,000 more in available cash than all of her opponents' funds combined. Candidates Aaron Sims, a political activist and former Carson City Republican Party vice chairman, and Tod Jennings, an Air Force veteran and teacher, both raised less than $300. Nathaniel Killgore, a small business owner, and Shirk did not report any fundraising.

Jennings has 15 percent of the vote, Killgore has 6 percent and Sims has 6 percent as of Sunday morning.

In Ward 2, it's a three-way neck and neck race between Maurice "Mo" White, Stacie Wilke-McCulloch and Ronni Hannaman, who have 34.2 percent of the vote, 30.9 percent and 28.8 percent respectively.

Both White, a retired diesel mechanic, and Wilke-McCulloch, a Carson City School Board trustee, have run for the seat before. This is the first race for Hannaman, who is the executive director of the Carson City Chamber of Commerce. 

All three self-funded their campaigns and reported no spending outside of candidate declaration filing fees.

Marine veteran and two-time candidate for sheriff Lorne Houle has 5.7 percent of the vote.

The top two candidates from the Ward 2 primary will face off in November. 

— Savanna Strott

Douglas County Commission

Results current as of 3:45 p.m. on Friday.

  • Incumbent Dave Nelson leads challenger Danny Tarkanian by a mere 17 votes in the District 1 Republican primary.
  • Mark Gardner leads incumbent Larry Walsh in the District 3 Republican primary, with 60.2 percent of the vote.
  • Walt Nowosad leads Nathan Tolbert in the Republican primary for District 5, an open seat, with 52.4 percent of the vote.

What to watch in Nevada’s 2020 primary election

The first results from Nevada’s unique, mostly mail primary election will finally be released on Tuesday after more than a month of voting, but calling some of the state’s top races could take up to 10 days. 

A substantial number of high-profile races will eventually be decided out of Tuesday’s election, including Republican challengers to Democratic Reps. Susie Lee and Steven Horsford, both who represent swing districts and have attracted a broad field of GOP candidates.

But congressional races aside, several major legislative races will be decided in the primary election, and two state Supreme Court seats could also be decided if candidates achieve more than 50 percent of the vote. Other major races include contests for seats on the Clark County Commission and a hotly contested Reno City Council race.

Polls will close at 7 p.m. on Election Night, with counties expected to turn in their initial vote totals to the state by about 8:30 p.m.

As of Monday, more than 343,000 people had cast a ballot for the primary election, or about 18.7 percent of all registered voters. The vast majority of ballots have been cast by mail (339,853), while around 2,971 people have cast a ballot through in-person early voting.

The change in process is likely to help contribute to a higher turnout than most primary elections. The 2018 primary election saw about 22.9 percent of registered voters cast a ballot, for a total turnout of 329,863. 

But the switch to a primarily mail-only election has a drawback: potential delays in determining the winners of close election contests. Ballots postmarked by Election Day and received by election officials within seven days will be counted, and county election officials have 10 days to certify the results of an election and declare a winner.

Below, check out The Nevada Independent’s preview of the major races up on Election Night. Editors Jon Ralston and Elizabeth Thompson will host a live election show beginning at 7:30 p.m., which can be viewed here.

The Washoe County Registrar of Voters on June 8, 2020. Photo by David Calvert.

NEVADA SUPREME COURT: Two seats are on the ballot: Chief Justice Kristina Pickering is defending her seat amid challenges from lawyers Esther Rodriguez and Thomas Christensen. And in the open seat held by Mark Gibbons, Judge Douglas Herndon faces off against lawyers Erv Nelson and Ozzie Fumo, the latter of whom is a sitting Assembly member.

CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 2: Several Democrats including Clint Koble, who ran unsuccessfully in 2018, are vying for the nomination and chance to face off with Republican Rep. Mark Amodei. The district is safely Republican, meaning even the winner of the Democratic primary enters a long-shot general election contest. Read our preview here.

CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 3: A feisty Republican primary is playing out in this swingy Southern Nevada district held by Democratic Rep. Susie Lee. The GOP field includes former wrestler Dan Rodimer, former state Treasurer Dan Schwartz and pro-Trump actress Mindy Robinson. Read our preview here.

CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 4: A parade of Republicans is vying to face off with Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford in a district that includes North Las Vegas and rural, central Nevada. GOP contenders include businesswoman Lisa Song Sutton, former Assemblyman Jim Marchant and Nye County Commissioner Leonardo Blundo, among others. Read our preview here.

REGENTS: Four of the 13 nonpartisan seats on the board overseeing the Nevada System of Higher Education are up for grabs, and the primary will narrow the field of candidates to two. One district features former Assemblyman Stephen Silberkraus and former state Senate candidate Byron Brooks; another pits former regent Bret Whipple against former Las Vegas City Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian. Read our preview here.

ASSEMBLY: Democrats are all but guaranteed to retain their majority heading into the 2021 legislative session, but the question is whether Republicans can score enough seats to get out of a weak “superminority” status, in which Democrats can pass taxes without a single GOP vote. The most interesting contests include primaries in swingy suburban districts. Read our preview here.

SENATE: One race for state Senate will be decided in the primary — Senate District 7, a seat held by termed-out Democrat David Parks. The Democratic primary pits two Assembly members — Ellen Spiegel and Richard Carrillo — against former Nevada State Democratic Party Chair Roberta Lange, who has the endorsement of state Senate Democrats. Read our preview here.

CLARK COUNTY COMMISSION: Four seats are up for grabs on the powerful Clark County Commission, including incumbents Marilyn Kirkpatrick and Michael Naft running for additional terms. Crowded Democratic primaries in seats held by termed-out Commissioners Lawrence Weekly and Larry Brown have drawn some familiar names, including former Secretary of State Ross Miller (District C) and Assemblyman William McCurdy, state Sen. Mo Denis and North Las Vegas City Councilman Isaac Barron (District D). Read our preview here.

RENO CITY COUNCIL: Four councilmembers are running for re-election in 2020, including Councilwoman Jenny Brekhus who is in a bitter fight with two well-funded opponents, including one endorsed by Mayor Hillary Schieve. Council members Devon Reese, Neoma Jardon and Oscar Delgado are also running for re-election. Read our preview here.

SPARKS CITY COUNCIL: Three seats on the Sparks City Council have attracted 10 candidates, with each race seeing well-funded incumbents try to fend off multiple opponents. Read our preview here.

CARSON CITY MAYOR & SUPERVISORS: Longtime Mayor Bob Crowell is termed out, and with two incumbents not running for re-election, the Carson City Board of Supervisors will have three new faces come 2021. Read our preview here.

DOUGLAS COUNTY COMMISSION: Three of the five seats on the Douglas County Commission are on the ballot, and they’ll be all but decided in the primary because no Democrats filed for the seats. One race features Danny Tarkanian, who has run unsuccessfully for major offices in Southern Nevada before moving north, against incumbent Dave Nelson. Read our preview here

WASHOE COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT: Fifteen candidates have filed to run in the four seats up for election for the board overseeing the state’s second-largest school district, including incumbents Scott Kelley and Angela Taylor. Read our preview here.

CLARK COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT: Thirty candidates are competing for four nonpartisan seats on the board that governs the nation’s fifth largest school district. Three seats are open after trustees termed out; in a fourth, Trustee Lola Brooks is seeking reelection. The primary will narrow the field to the top two, although a candidate who wins more than 50 percent of the vote wins outright. Read our preview here.

NEVADA STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION: The four elected positions on the 11-member board that works in tandem with the state Department of Education are up for grabs. Felicia Ortiz and Mark Newburn are defending their seats, while five candidates are vying for a spot representing a Las Vegas district and a lone candidate — Katie Coombs — is seeking a seat in a Northern Nevada district. Read our preview here.

JUDGES: Numerous judge positions are on the ballot, including District Court and Family Court hopefuls. Read our guide on Clark County judge races here.