Elaine Wynn departing from State Board of Education at year's end

The back end of a Clark County School bus

Elaine Wynn, a longtime force in Nevada’s K-12 education world, is leaving the State Board of Education at the end of this year.

Wynn, the board’s current president, was appointed to the governing body in 2012 by then-Gov. Brian Sandoval. Her appointment coincided with a major composition shift to the State Board of Education, which now includes both appointed and elected members.

Gov. Steve Sisolak also announced Friday that he has appointed former state board member Mark Newburn, who this year lost a re-election bid to Rene Cantu, to succeed Wynn. Newburn previously represented District 4 as an elected member.

“President Wynn’s legacy of service to the children of our great State is indelible,” Sisolak said in a statement. “Generations of children will be the beneficiaries of her life-long passion to improve education and support healthy communities throughout Nevada. I cannot thank President Wynn enough for her dedication to the Board and I know she will continue to contribute to the betterment of the Silver State.”

During her eight-year tenure on the board, Wynn — a businesswoman and philanthropist — emphasized better serving students of color as well as students living in poverty. That passion can be traced to her efforts since the pandemic disrupted learning in the spring. Wynn played a key role in establishing a public-private partnership known as Connecting Kids that has drastically reduced the number of children statewide without access to a device or internet for distance learning.

Three state superintendents — Jhone Ebert, Steve Canavero and Dale Erquiaga — were hired during her tenure. She also has a namesake building, the Elaine Wynn Elementary School, in Las Vegas.

Per Nevada law, appointed voting members of the State Board of Education serve two-year terms, with the caveat that they will continue serving until a successor has been appointed. When Newburn's term as an elected member expires in January, he will begin his appointed term.

Education Race Roundup: Brooks re-elected in Clark County trustee race; Church leading in Washoe County trustee race

The back end of a Clark County School bus

Three new members appear poised to join the Clark County School Board of Trustees, and an incumbent will be returning for a second term.

Incumbent Lola Brooks, who serves as board president, has defeated Alexis Salt, a Clark County School District teacher, to retain her District E seat. As of early Wednesday morning, Brooks has captured 57 percent of the votes, while Salt snagged 43 percent.

“Although I am leading in my race, final election results won’t be available until all the votes are counted,” Brooks tweeted Wednesday morning. “Let’s wait until every vote is counted.”

Brooks was the only incumbent running for the four Clark County School Board seats up for grabs in this election. Existing trustees Deanna Wright (District A), Chris Garvey (District B) and Linda Young (District C) are term limited, leaving those seats wide open to board newcomers.

In District A, voters chose Lisa Guzman to represent them on the school board. Guzman, executive director of the Education Support Employees Association, had scooped up 53 percent of the votes by early Wednesday morning, compared with Liberty Leavitt’s 47 percent. Leavitt, wife of former state Sen. Michael Roberson, works at a nonprofit serving underprivileged children.

The race for the District B trustee seat is not nearly as close. Katie Williams — a veteran, former small business owner and outspoken conservative — has amassed 61 percent of the votes, defeating Jeffrey Proffitt, who has received 39 percent. Proffitt’s loss comes despite him out-fundraising Williams by a significant margin and racking up a lengthy list of endorsements.

On Wednesday morning, Williams took to Twitter, where she thanked voters and said she looked forward to serving them.

“People degraded me daily, but I didn't care because I knew I was right,” she wrote in a tweet. “The district needs help and I want to thank all the voters who believed in me and who cast their votes for me.”

In District C, meanwhile, Evelyn Garcia Morales holds the lead early Wednesday morning after stockpiling 53 percent of the votes. Her opponent, Tameka Henry, has earned 47 percent.

The revamped cast of the school board comes as trustees grapple with the aftermath of pandemic-disrupted learning. The new trustees will assume their roles in January.

Washoe County School Board of Trustees

Jeff Church has triumphed in the race for the Washoe County School Board seat in District A, denying Scott Kelley’s bid at a re-election comeback.

“I thank the voters and those that supported me for change at WCSD,” Church wrote in a statement shared with The Nevada Independent. “I hope to earn the trust that the voters placed in me and I will do whatever it takes to improve the quality of education and represent the needs of the taxpayer.”

That race took a weird twist in August when Kelley resigned from the school board after a This Is Reno story detailed information about his divorce, including placing a tracking device on his wife’s vehicle and operating fake social media accounts. But Kelley remained on the general election ballot, hoping to revive his school board career by letting voters decide his fate.

After Kelley resigned, the board appointed former Incline Village Middle School Principal Sharon Kennedy to serve the remainder of his term.

Results posted early Wednesday show that Church, a retired Reno police sergeant, has snagged 60 percent of the votes, while Kelley has only grabbed 40 percent.

But, in the District E trustee race, incumbent Angela Taylor handily sailed to re-election after scooping up 63 percent of the votes by early Wednesday. Her challenger, Matthew Montognese, has received 37 percent.

“It’s an honor that the people in District E would entrust me once again to represent them,” Taylor said during a phone call with The Nevada Independent. “It makes me feel good as an incumbent that the district likes what they see with my work and want to keep that going.”

The closest Washoe County School Board race is for the At-Large District G seat. As of early Wednesday, Diane Nicolet, a previous board appointee, maintained the lead with 54 percent of votes tallied. Her competitor, Craig Wesner, has captured 46 percent.

State Board of Education

Rene Cantu appears on track to defeat incumbent Mark Newburn to represent District 4 on the State Board of Education. 

It’s a tight race: Cantu, who is executive director of Jobs for Nevada’s Graduates, has earned 51 percent of the votes tallied so far, while Newburn has received 49 percent. The margin separating the two in that race is 4,001 votes.

Cantu’s victory comes amid very little campaign spending and fewer endorsements. Newburn, however, had voiced concern that parents’ disappointment with school reopening decisions could hurt his shot at re-election.

The District 1 race, meanwhile, isn’t quite as close. Tim Hughes has the edge with 52 percent of votes as of Wednesday morning, while his opponent, Angelo Casino, has 48 percent.

Hughes, vice president of The New Teacher Project (TNTP), a teacher training program, mounted a significant fundraising advantage during the course of the campaign. Casino is a charter school teacher in Las Vegas. 

Board of Regents

The Board of Regents, which oversees Nevada’s higher-education system, had four positions on the ballot this year. 

In District 2, Lois Tarkanian, a longtime Las Vegas City Councilwoman who was termed out last year, has won with 60 percent of the votes tallied as of Wednesday morning. Her opponent, Brett Whipple — a former regent and attorney with the Justice Law Center — has 40 percent.

Tarkanian, the wife of the late UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian and mother of Douglas County Commissioner-elect Danny Tarkanian, lamented the untraditional election year that robbed candidates of connecting with voters personally, though it didn't affect her election. She said she looks forward to addressing higher education's issues from the pandemic and developing the UNLV Medical School, which broke ground in late October.

"There's lots of aspects to a medical program besides the building, so I've worked on some of them already," she said. "Secondly, [I want] to continue working very hard to become a world-class educational institution. And that means providing what we need and not wasting money."

Byron Brooks, a principal managing partner of a Henderson spa, has won the District 3 seat with 55 percent of the votes counted so far. His competitor, Swadeep Nigam, a financial analyst for a Las Vegas law firm, has 45 percent.

The race for District 5 remains contested. Patrick Boylan, a former adjunct professor at the College of Southern Nevada, narrowly leads with 51 percent of the votes tallied. His opponent, Nick Spirtos, medical director of the Women’s Cancer Center of Nevada, has 49 percent.

In District 10, Joseph Arrascada has won with 54 percent of votes, while Kevin Melcher, a former regent, has 46 percent. 

Arrascada, who works at the Reno Veterans Administration Hospital and is co-owner of a local community service agency, attributed his win to his platform, which focused on increasing communication between regents, students, faculty and university leadership, and keeping pandemic-driven budget cuts out of classrooms. 

"Even before the closing of the polls, I truly feel that I had won. I know it sounds strange but I'd won because the community that I've called home my entire life, they embraced my candidacy," he said. "It's those items that truly infused my tenacity to continue with throughout this process to bring success."

Election Preview: Two spots are still up for grabs on the state Board of Education

Two candidates won their seats on the state’s education board outright in June, but narrow primary battles mean four others are still fighting for two spots, including one incumbent who is concerned that parent frustrations about distance learning may hurt his chances of retaining a seat he has held since 2013.

The seats the candidates are seeking are on the Nevada State Board of Education, a body many of them have indicated has been historically “overlooked,” but that has gained a new level of importance this fall as it helped oversee the reopening of Nevada’s schools in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The board works in conjunction with the Department of Education, helping to adopt administrative regulations and set statewide standards for study that school districts must adhere to. The board also helps to allocate funding based on legislative policies and operates a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion workgroup.

The board has a total of 11 seats —  seven appointed and four elected, with the four elected seats representing each of Nevada’s congressional districts. All four nonpartisan elected seats are up for grabs every four years.

During June’s primary, two candidates won their districts outright by getting more than 50 percent of the vote. Katie Coombs ran unopposed for Northern Nevada’s District 2 seat earlier this year, and in Southern Nevada’s District 3, incumbent Felicia Ortiz received 63 percent of the vote, enough to secure the seat without competing in the general election.

Districts 1 and 4, however, are still undetermined. In District 1, five candidates competed in the primary with Tim Hughes, the vice president of The New Teacher Project (TNTP), a teacher training program, and charter school teacher Angelo Casino coming out on top. District 4 will see incumbent Mark Newburn take on Rene Cantu, who narrowly won the primary by only 0.5 percentage points in June.

District 1

In Nevada’s geographically smallest district, encompassing the heart of the Las Vegas Valley, the battle is between a former teacher and administrator who’s now focused on training, and a current teacher who believes his in-the-classroom experience will give him the edge.

Incumbent Robert Blakely did not seek re-election this year, and Hughes and Casino are hoping to fill the open seat. With 38 percent of the vote, Hughes received the most support during the primary. Casino received 24 percent.

Hughes, who ran for the seat in 2016 as well, has focused his campaign on ensuring an “equitable outcome” for students, no matter their district or demographic background. The former teacher and principal works for a nonprofit focused on teacher training.

“I intend to utilize all that I have learned, along with my commitment to our community, to advocate for the policies and practices that will lead to greater student success,” he said.

Hughes says the pandemic has not changed his priorities when it comes to Nevada’s education and the welfare of students but, rather, problems he already intended to address have been “exacerbated” by it.

The candidate, who has been endorsed by the Culinary Union, AFL-CIO and the Clark County Education Association, reported more than $19,000 in contributions during the second quarter of 2020, with donations from the campaigns of multiple Nevada political figures including Las Vegas City Councilman Brian Knudsen and Democratic state Sen. Yvanna Cancela. He also received $1,000 from the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and $4,000 from Leadership for Educational Equity, a nonprofit organization that supports leaders seeking to end inequity in education.

Hughes reported spending $18,590 during the same period on advertising and consulting. The bulk went towards Facebook advertising and fees paid to two political consulting firms, Wildfire Contact and AMM Political Strategies. His campaign’s reported cash on hand balance was just over $3,000 at the end of June.

Casino, who teaches at Somerset Academy Lone Mountain in Las Vegas, has brought in fewer contributions and spent less than his opponent. Of the $1,535 in reported donations during the second quarter of the year, Casino himself contributed $1,260. His largely self-funded campaign has reported no cash on hand after the candidate spent all $1,535 on advertising through Amazon and Facebook.

Casino’s campaign has been largely based on his goal of bringing a current teacher’s perspective to the board.

“I see every day the impact [the board’s] decisions have in our classrooms,” Casino said in an email to The Nevada Independent. “I am a middle school history teacher and the time has come for our students and teachers to be represented on the board.”

According to Casino, the pandemic has shifted his priorities since filing to run for the seat, and the importance of short-term needs such as technology access and providing extra assistance to special education students have taken precedence over his long-term goals.

District 4

Challenger Rene Cantu pulled off a narrow primary victory over Mark Newburn, the board’s current vice president, in District 4, which encompasses Central Nevada, including the northern portion of Clark County. However, Cantu says he has had trouble gaining endorsements in the race as many organizations have put their support behind the incumbent.

Newburn has been endorsed by the Clark County Education Association, the Culinary Union and the Nevada State Education Association. He reported $200 in donations to his campaign in the second quarter of the year but more than $4,000 in spending during the same span of time, with a focus on advertising. The candidate reported a cash on hand balance of $4,086 which includes what is left of a $10,000 loan he made to his own campaign during the first quarter of the year.

Cantu has entirely self-funded his efforts during the second quarter of the year, reporting a $2,724 donation he made to the campaign fund, all of which was spent on advertising, leaving the candidate with no cash on hand.

Cantu is the executive director for Jobs for Nevada’s Graduates, also known as JAG Nevada, and previously was a member of the Clark County School District Board of Trustees. The candidate said he believes that his career’s focus on helping students transition from K-12 schools into higher education and the workforce will bring a “unique viewpoint” to the board. He has also focused heavily on supporting educational equity in his campaign.

“I have a big commitment to equity and diversity,” he said in an interview with The Nevada Independent. “For the whole state, but especially for region four, making sure that more rural students have access to [career and technical education] programs and other resources, and urban students that are low income and minority populations have access to the same kind of education that they deserve.”

Newburn emphasized his commitment to equity for diverse populations but is also an advocate for expanding STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, describing it as a way to “modernize the education system” in the state and help produce skilled workers.

Newburn is worried that disappointment parents may have with the decisions made about distance or hybrid education in their districts may affect his chances at re-election, but believes his experience on the board will better position him to serve.

“We’re close to the Legislature, and our job changes a little bit every session. There’s a learning curve,” he said. “And so the advantage that I have is that I’ve been through four cycles … There’s probably no one in the state that understands the true role and function of the state board and how it should operate and under what condition it operates well as I do.”

Primary election turnout exceeds 480,000, sets up major races for November

After more than a week, Nevada’s unique, mostly mail 2020 primary election is finally in the books and will end as one of the highest-turnout primary elections in state history.

Final results from the state’s June 9 primary election are updated as of Thursday, ahead of the legal deadline for votes to officially be canvassed on Friday. More than 480,000 ballots were cast in the election, or around 29.5 percent of registered voters.

The long delay in reporting was a result of Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske’s decision to hold a mostly all-mail election in an effort to mitigate potential spread of COVID-19, with limited in-person voting sites in each county. Most voters opted to use a mail-in ballot, with only around 7,800 people opting to cast their ballot in-person.

The delay in reporting results also saw delayed victories by several legislative caucus-backed candidates who appeared behind opponents after initial results were published last week. Most notably, former Nevada State Democratic Party head Roberta Lange won a close victory over Assemblywoman Ellen Spiegel in a state Senate primary, after Spiegel appeared ahead in initial results. 

But in several heated races in the state’s congressional districts, the slow count left few surprises. Republican primaries in Districts 3 and 4 were won easily by former professional wrestler Dan Rodimer and ex-Assemblyman Jim Marchant, respectively, while a competitive race among Democrats in ruby-red District 2 fell decisively to one-time legislative candidate Patricia Ackerman. 

They will now go on to face incumbents who, across the board, easily secured their own renominations. Across all four districts, only one incumbent — Democrat Steven Horsford — received less than 80 percent of the vote. 

Check out our summary below on the status of major races heading into the November general election. Full results are available here.

U.S. House

  • In District 4, former Republican Assemblyman Jim Marchant will take on incumbent Democrat Steven Horsford. Marchant emerged from a crowded primary field with 34.8 percent of the vote, while Horsford won nearly 75.1 percent in the Democratic primary. 
  • In District 3, incumbent Democrat Susie Lee will face one-time legislative candidate and ex-wrestler Dan Rodimer in the general election. Lee cruised to victory in a non-competitive primary, securing 82.7 percent of the vote, while Rodimer won 49.8 percent in a bitter, often-combative three-way Republican race. 
  • In District 2, Republican incumbent Mark Amodei also enjoyed a wide margin of victory, winning 80.8 percent of the vote. He will go on to face Democrat Patricia Ackerman, who secured 48.9 percent in a hotly contested primary. 
  • In District 1, incumbent Democrat Dina Titus also easily secured her renomination, winning more than 82.6 percent of the vote. She will go on to face Republican Joyce Bentley, who challenged and lost to Titus in the 2018 general election. Bentley emerged from a field of five Republicans with 35.7 percent of the vote. 

State Senate

  • In District 7, former Nevada State Democratic Party Chair Roberta Lange won this three-way Democratic primary against two current lawmakers. Lange secured 38.3 percent of the vote, followed by Assemblywoman Ellen Spiegel at 36.9 percent and Assemblyman Richard Carrillo at 24.9 percent. Lange is all but guaranteed a victory in November as she faces no challengers in the general election.

State Assembly

  • In District 2, former Nevada REALTORS president Heidi Kasama won this crowded Republican primary. She secured 47.9 percent of the vote, followed by commercial real estate agent Erik Sexton with 27 percent of the vote and Jim Small, a retired member of the U.S. Senior Executive Service, with 19 percent. She faces Democrat Radhika “RPK” Kunnel, a law school student and former cancer biology professor, in the general election. Kunnel won her primary with 35.9 percent of the vote over Jennie Sherwood, a journeywoman electrician, with 31.5 percent.
  • In District 4, former Republican Assemblyman Richard McArthur will face a rematch in November against Democratic Assemblywoman Connie Munk after winning his Republican primary. He defeated Donnie Gibson, the owner of a construction and equipment rental company, with 51.2 percent of votes to Gibson’s 48.9 percent.
  • In District 16, community activist Cecelia González won this four-way Democratic primary with 50.1 percent of the vote. González is likely to win the general election against the one Republican in the race, Reyna “Alex” Sajdak, because of the overwhelming voter registration advantage Democrats have in the district. 
  • In District 18, Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada attorney Venicia Considine, who ran with the backing of the Assembly Democratic Caucus, won this four-way Democratic primary. She secured 39.4 percent of the vote after initially training Lisa Ortega, a master arborist and owner of Great Basin Sage Consulting, in early primary results.
  • In District 19, Republican Assemblyman Chris Edwards lost his re-election bid in the primary to Mesquite City Councilwoman Annie Black. Black won with 61 percent of the vote to Edwards’ 39 percent. Black is essentially guaranteed to go on to win the general election in November, as there are no Democrats or third-party candidates in the race.
  • In District 20, UNLV law professor David Orentlicher, who was running with the backing of the Assembly Democratic Caucus, won this Democratic primary with 46.5 percent of the vote after initially trailing in early results. No Republican candidates filed to run in this Paradise-area seat, meaning Orentlicher is essentially guaranteed a victory come November.
  • In District 31, former Assemblywoman Jill Dickman won this three-way Republican primary with 51 percent of the vote. She goes on to face a rematch against Democratic Assemblyman Skip Daly after losing the seat to him by fewer than 50 votes in 2016.
  • In District 36, Assemblyman Greg Hafen defeated challenger Dr. Joseph Bradley in the Republican primary in this rural Nevada Assembly district with 54.9 percent of the vote. Hafen is essentially guaranteed to go on to win the general election as no Democrats or candidates from other parties filed to run for the seat.
  • In District 37, Andy Matthews, former president of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, defeated former television reporter and congressional candidate Michelle Mortensen with 49 percent of the vote. He goes on to challenge the incumbent, Democrat Shea Backus, in the general election.
  • For more information on the outcomes of primary races, check out our legislative results story.

Board of Regents

  • In District 3, Byron Brooks will face off against Swadeep Nigam in the general election. Brooks garnered 31.4 percent of the votes, while Nigam secured 23.8 percent.
  • In District 4, Patrick Boylan and Nick “Doc” Spirtos will head to the general election. Boylan captured 37.6 percent of the votes, and Spirtos received 33.3 percent.
  • In District 10, the general election will feature a contest between Kevin Melcher and Joseph Arrascada. Melcher earned 28.4 percent of the primary votes, while Arrascada garnered 21.9 percent.

State Board of Education

  • In District 1, Tim Hughes will face off against Angelo Casino in the general election. Hughes received 37.7 percent of the primary votes, while Casino captured 24 percent.
  • In District 2, Katie Coombs ran unopposed and, thus, won the election outright.
  • In District 3, incumbent Felicia Ortiz won the seat after securing 63 percent of the primary votes. If a candidate receives the majority of votes in this primary race, he or she automatically wins the seat without running in the general election.
  • In District 4, incumbent Mark Newburn will compete against Rene Cantu in the general election after a neck-and-neck primary race. Cantu captured 35.8 percent of the primary votes, while Newburn secured 35.3 percent.

Clark County School Board of Trustees

  • In District A, Lisa Guzman and Liberty Leavitt will be heading to the general election. Guzman received 26.1 percent of the primary votes, while Leavitt captured 19 percent.
  • In District B, Katie Williams will face off against Jeff Proffitt in the general election. Williams secured 23.9 percent of primary votes, while Proffitt snagged 18.7 percent.
  • In District C, Tameka Henry will compete against Evelyn Garcia Morales in the general election. After a close primary race, Henry emerged with 21.1 percent of the votes, while Garcia Morales secured 20.3 percent.
  • In District E, incumbent Lola Brooks will face challenger Alexis Salt in the general election. Brooks, who currently serves as the board president, received 21.6 percent of the primary votes, while Salt garnered 17.5 percent.

Washoe County School Board of Trustees

  • In District A, Scott Kelley will compete against Jeff Church in the general election. Kelley snagged 33.4 percent of the primary votes, while Church garnered 23 percent.
  • In District D, Kurt Thigpen became the outright winner of that seat after securing 52.9 percent of the votes. His victory comes with added significance because he will be the board’s first LGBTQ school trustee.
  • In the At-Large District G, Diane Nicolet and Craig Wesner are heading to the general election. Nicolet received 43.6 percent of the primary votes, while Wesner captured 24.5 percent.

Election results: Primary narrows pool of candidates seeking a hand in the future of Nevada schools

The June 9 primary thinned the field of candidates for a range of posts overseeing education in Nevada, clearing some challengers for incumbents but also dimming the hopes of some former elected officials hoping to make political comebacks.

Below are highlights of races for urban school boards, the Board of Regents overseeing higher education and the state school board. Check back for updates as additional results come in.

Regent race shows frontrunners pulling ahead, competitive races for second slot for general

regents meeting
Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents quarterly meeting at UNLV on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019. (Jeff Scheid/Nevada Independent)

Clear frontrunners have emerged in each of the three primaries for a seat on the Board of Regents, but it's a tight race to fill the second spot on the ballot in November, according to preliminary results released Wednesday. 

The top two candidates from each district will head to the general election, but the complete ballot won't be settled until official results are finalized June 19. That’s when all ballots from delayed in-person voting in Clark County and mailed-in ballots are counted. 

Of the five candidates for District 10 in Northern Nevada, it appears Kevin Melcher will be facing off against either Joseph Arrascada or Vince Lombardi in the general election. 

A former regent for District 8 from 2010 to 2016, Melcher has 28.7 percent of the vote. 

"I'm very pleased obviously to be where I'm at in the primary election, and I look forward to moving on in the general," Melcher said Wednesday. "I have four good opponents to run against, and they all ran a good campaign, and I'm happy to be where I'm at."

He said he will keep his campaign focused on his leadership experience and follow the same grassroots campaign strategy he used for the primary.

Arrascada, who has been outspoken about wheelchair accessibility in Mackay stadium at UNR, and Lombardi, a faculty member at the UNR medical school, are neck and neck for second place with 21.9 percent of the vote and 20.6 percent respectively.

Andrew Diss, an executive at Grand Sierra Resort who had endorsements from the Culinary Union and the Nevada State Education Association and led the money race, has 17.2 percent of the vote. John McKendricks, the executive director of the Reno campus of a private Christian school, has 11.7 percent.

District 5 in Southern Nevada originally included incumbent Sam Lieberman, who was running for his second term, but his death in early April leaves the seat between Patrick Boylan, a former member on the Nevada State Board of Education, Kevin Child, a former Clark County School District trustee, and Nick "Doc" Spirtos, the medical director at Women’s Cancer Center in Las Vegas. Spirtos ran against Lieberman in 2014.

Boylan leads with 37.6 percent of the vote as of Friday, but Spirtos, who has 33 percent, and Child, who has 29.3 percent, are close behind. 

The candidates have done limited campaigning prior to the primary. None reported any fundraising or spending in the first quarter. Only Child reported having any available cash, ending the period with $1,046 in cash on hand. 

In Southern Nevada’s District 3, Byron Brooks, a veteran and managing partner at Brooks Brothers Bail Bonds, is leading with 31.8 percent of the vote. He is followed by Swadeep Nigam with 23.6 percent, Lachelle Fisher with 23.3 percent and Stephen Silberkraus with 21.3 percent.

Both Brooks and Silberkraus lost their most recent races for the Legislature in 2018. Nigam has also lost races for two different Assembly Districts in 2012 and 2016. 

This is Fisher's first race. She has been running her campaign primarily on her Facebook page and doesn't have a campaign website.

Only Silberkraus, a Republican former assemblyman who represented District 29 from 2014 to 2016, did any campaign fundraising in the first quarter. He raised over $4,500 and spent almost double that on advertising and office and volunteer expenses.  

Silberkraus has endorsements from the Clark County Education Association and the Clark County Black Caucus. Nigam, the former commissioner of the Nevada Equal Rights Commission, has the support of the Culinary Union and NSEA.

With the third candidate withdrawn in District 2, Bret Whipple and Lois Tarkanian will go straight to the general election. 

Whipple held the seat in the mid-2000s and at one point chaired the board but lost his re-election bid in 2008 to a political novice after doing little campaigning and expecting to win

Tarkanian, the widow of celebrated UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian and mother of frequent GOP candidate Danny Tarkanian, termed out last year as the Ward 1 representative on the Las Vegas City Council. 

Only Tarkanian reported any fundraising in the first quarter. 

— Savanna Strott

Two candidates are on track to skip the general election in the nonpartisan State Board of Education race, while two districts remain too close to call

Students use Chromebooks during a tour of Roger D. Gehring Academy of Science and Technology in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. (Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent)

Nevada State Board of Education races appear to be all but settled for unopposed candidate Katie Coombs in District 2 and incumbent Felicia Ortiz in District 3. But in Districts 1 and 4, the contests are still too close to call.

The state board, chaired by Elaine Wynn, works in tandem with the Nevada Department of Education to implement administrative regulations, determine course standards, and set graduation requirements.

There are four elected seats on the board, and all four are up for election this year. As they are non-partisan positions, the two highest performing candidates in the primary will go on to face off in the general election in November.

In District 1, which includes portions of the Las Vegas Valley, five candidates competed for those two spots.

Candidates Tim Hughes and Angelo Casino are currently in the lead after initial results have been released. Hughes, the vice president of TNTP, a teacher training program, has 37.8 percent of the vote while Casino sits at 23.8 percent.

Hughes felt good about his standing after Wednesday morning’s results were released.

“I’m feeling, obviously, optimistic. I know there’s still many more of those to be counted as they trickle in from sort of the postmark date,” he said. “I spent a lot of time engaging with families and community members and educators, you know, who are all very concerned about making sure we have a high quality of education, and that’s really been my top priority in this campaign, so it really will continue to be the focus in the general election.”

Candidates Michael Robison and Aaron Mason sit at 15.1 and 14.2 percent of the vote, respectively. The final candidate, Steve Esh, has 9.2 percent.

In Northern Nevada’s Katie Coombs has effectively won the District 2 seat. Coombs was the only candidate on the ballot and has been endorsed by the Culinary Union as well as the Nevada State Education Association.

In District 3 in Southern Nevada, incumbent Felicia Ortiz took on two competitors and has a strong lead.

Ortiz received 63 percent of the vote, with James-Newman coming in second at 24.3 percent. 

Ortiz said she was up late on Tuesday waiting for results and woke up several times in the night to check as well. In an interview on Wednesday morning, she said she was feeling very good about where she stood.

“I’m super excited with the results. I was praying for getting over that 50 percent because we have so much work to do that I just want to be able to focus on the work and not have to think about the election,” Ortiz said. “That’s awesome. I hope that sticks.”

If Ortiz can stay above 51 percent, she will automatically win the seat and won’t need to compete in November’s general election.

“I’m going to focus on helping some of the other education candidates to win and keep their seats,” she said. “It’s going to be a really, really hard year. It’s already been a hard year.”

Central Nevada and northern Clark County’s District 4 also saw an incumbent defending his seat. Board Vice President Mark Newburn’s self-funded campaign has put him in what appears to be a close race with challenger Rene Cantu, the executive director of Jobs for Nevada’s Graduates (JAG Nevada).

Newburn has 35.6 percent of the vote after election night while Cantu took a narrow lead Tuesday at 35.8 percent. Elementary school teacher and instructor at the College of Southern Nevada Vincent Richardson trails behind in the District 4 race with 28.6 percent of the vote.

— Kristyn Leonard

Frontrunners emerge in Washoe County School Board race, including first openly LGBT member  

Huffaker Elementary School in Reno as seen on Friday, March 6, 2020. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

A few sleepy candidates who waited long hours for election results on Tuesday night celebrated the long-awaited news of their leads on Wednesday morning. 

Kurt Thigpen is the presumptive winner for the seat on the board for District D with 52.5 percent of the vote and Diane Nicolet is advancing with a significant lead in the race for the At-Large District G, with 43.5 percent of the vote. District A incumbent Scott Kelley also leads the race for his re-election with 33.5 percent of the vote, followed by Jeff Church at 23.3 percent and Lisa Genasci at 21.9 percent. 

“I’m really surprised,” Thigpen said in a phone call with The Nevada Independent Wednesday morning. “I’m very grateful for all the support and all the volunteers that we’ve had that helped us reach people, especially during the pandemic. So I’m feeling really good.” 

Although Thigpen has over 50 percent of the vote in the nonpartisan race, marking him the outright seat-holder, he said he won’t declare victory until all the votes are in by June 19, making time for mail-in ballots to arrive at the voter registrar’s office. 

With Thigpen’s presumptive win comes a notable achievement and milestone for the school board — the first LGBTQ board member. 

“It gives me great pride,” he said. “I think having a school board that is very diverse in perspective and life experiences and ideas is going to be crucial. I hope to be a voice, certainly for all students, but to speak to the experiences of LGBT students ... and create a more inclusive school district.” 

Nicolet is also processing the news of her lead in the race for the at-large District G seat that spans the western region of the county. 

“I’m thrilled and I’m honored and a little scared,” she said in a phone call with The Nevada Independent Wednesday morning. 

This is Nicolet’s second time running for a seat on the board after losing in 2012 in the race for District E. However, she was appointed to the board for a few months in 2016. 

Kelley feels confident in his first place spot and looks forward to knowing who his opponent will be for the general election in November. 

“I’m feeling good,” Kelley wrote in a text message to The Nevada Independent. “I know there are still many ballots to be counted but I’m confident my lead will hold and perhaps even improve.” 

Meanwhile, Church is in the lead to become Kelley’s opponent.

Church said he felt “good and bad” knowing he could become the second name on the ballot for the seat. 

“I really, really would support anybody except the incumbent… I would much rather go up against the 19-year-old kid,” he said, referring to candidate Jack Heinemann, who garnered 11.4 percent of the vote.

Church cited Kelly’s support for previous Washoe County School District Superintendent Traci Davis and budgets approved by Kelley during his eight years on the board as reasons. 

Kelley refutes the allegation he supported Davis by recalling instances in which he voted against the proposed 2018-2020 contract for the then-superintendent and in 2017 when he was one of two trustees who voted against classifying Davis’ job performance as “accomplished.”

If he moves forward in the election, Church plans to do a “full court press” in campaigning and reaching voters. His ideas for change range from pay raises for teachers, shifting the funds allocated for building new schools from the 2016 ballot measure WC-1 to hiring more teachers, and even a “living academy” for “at-risk kids” where homeless students or students whose parents work the night shift could stay, instead of “running amok.” 

“I’m for change, I am the best candidate to get her done,” he said.

Genasci feels energized by the results and said she hopes the pandemic can serve as a catalyst for unity and transparency among the school board trustees. 

“We have to prioritize transparency and eliminate conspiracies and speculation,” she said in a phone call with The Nevada Independent Wednesday afternoon. “We’re in a time where there’s not time for that. We have to be raw, fact-based and we have to move forward with tangible and sustainable goals. And I think that sometimes we got lost in this ‘he said, she said’ — there’s just no time for that.” 

Genasci also believes that the best way for the school district to move forward amid pandemic decisions regarding distance learning is to listen to teachers. 

“We are moving into uncharted territory,” she said, “with reduced budgets and the need for collective approaches to learning. This is an area that no school board member has been on. And many of our teachers who have really been beta testing this for the past few months with kids have the expert solutions and they will consider every single child’s needs.” 

Jazmin Orozco Rodriguez 

Updated at 5:51 p.m. 5/10/2020 to include comments from Lisa Genasci and clarify Scott Kelley's position on allegations from Jeff Church. Updated at 11:02 a.m. 5/11/2020 to reflect updated numbers.

Clark County School Board

  • In District A, Lisa Guzman leads with 26.1 percent of the vote, followed by Liberty Leavitt with 18.9 percent. The seat is open because current officeholder Deanna Wright is term-limited.
  • In District B, Katie Williams — a candidate who garnered attention as an outspoken conservative — leads with 23.9 percent of the vote. Union business manager Jeff Proffitt is in second place with 18.9 percent. The seat is open because current officeholder Chris Garvey is termed out.
  • In District C, Tameka Henry is ahead with 20.8 percent of the vote, with Evelyn Garcia Morales in a close second with about 20.3 percent of the vote. The seat is open because current officeholder Linda Young is termed out.
  • In District E, incumbent Lola Brooks has a modest lead with 21.6 percent of the vote, ahead of her next closest competitor, Alexis Salt, who has about 17.5 percent.

Election results: Rodimer, Marchant lead in congressional primaries; several caucus-backed candidates trail in legislative races

Former professional wrestler “Big Dan” Rodimer and former Assemblyman Jim Marchant were leading in two closely watched and hotly contested Republican congressional primaries as of Wednesday morning, though the fate of neither race is sealed with results from the mostly-mail election scheduled to trickle in over the next week and a half.

Early primary results also pointed to possible upsets in several legislative primaries, over both candidates supported by the legislative caucuses and, in one instance, an incumbent. Former Nevada State Democratic Party Chair Roberta Lange, who was running with the blessing of the Senate Democratic Caucus, is trailing Assemblywoman Ellen Spiegel, while Republican Assemblyman Chris Edwards could be soon out of a job with Mesquite City Councilwoman Annie Black leading in her primary challenge against him.

State and county election officials posted preliminary results from the primary early Wednesday morning after long lines and lengthy wait times at limited in-person voting centers in Washoe and Clark counties held up the release of the results long after polls closed at 7 p.m. Election officials will not begin posting vote tallies until every voter in line has cast a ballot.

About 137,000 ballots in Clark County have been tallied, or approximately half of those cast in the mostly mail balloting and half of those statewide.

In Clark County, many voters arriving shortly before the 7 p.m. cutoff waited in line for up to five or six hours hours before being able to cast a ballot. The final voter — an Elvis impersonator — finished casting their ballot in Clark County around 3:09 a.m.

The state shifted to a mostly-mail primary election back in March with limited in-person voting sites amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

But Tuesday’s results aren’t the end of the process. Because mailed ballots can be counted up to 10 days after the election as long as they were postmarked by Tuesday, state officials will regularly publish updated results beginning on Thursday and until election results are certified on June 19.

Here are some of the partial results:

Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District

”Big Dan” Rodimer has a 10 point lead over former Treasurer Dan Schwartz in the GOP primary in this swingy, suburban congressional district represented by Democratic Rep. Susie Lee. As of Wednesday morning, Rodimer had secured 43.5 percent of the vote, while Schwartz had captured 32.6. Mindy Robinson, a pro-Trump political commentator, actress, and reality TV personality, trails in the race at 13.4 percent.

Lee appears to have easily cleared two Democratic primary challengers, leading with a wide 74.3-point margin.

Nevada’s 4th Congressional District

Former Assemblyman Jim Marchant has a 3.9 percentage point lead over Sam Peters, a veteran and insurance agent, in this crowded Republican primary to challenge Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford in November. Marchant leads with 33.5 percent of the votes, followed by Peters with 29.6 percent and former Miss Nevada and small business owner Lisa Song Sutton with 13.3 percent.

Three additional candidates are trailing further behind in the race. Small business owner Rebecca Wood has 6.4 percent of the vote, former congressional staffer Charles Navarro has 6.3 percent and Nye County Commissioner Leo Blundo has 5.3 percent. Entrepreneur Rosalie Bingham has 3.1 percent of the vote, while businesswoman Randi Reed has another 2.5 percent.

Horsford appears to have won his Democratic primary, where he faced five challengers. As of Wednesday morning, he leads with a wide 64.9-point margin.

Other Congressional Districts

In Nevada’s 1st Congressional District, Democratic Rep. Dina Titus appears to have won her Democratic primary, where she faced two challengers. As of Wednesday morning, she had secured 86.4 percent of the vote. Republican Joyce Bentley leads in the GOP primary by 7.7 percentage points. However, because of the overwhelming Democratic voter registration advantage in the district, Titus is likely to easily win re-election in November.

Republican Rep. Mark Amodei also appears to have easily won the GOP primary in Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District, where he faced two challengers. He led with 81.3 percent of the vote as of Wednesday morning. 

Patricia Ackerman, a former independent undercover FBI agent, actress, small business owner and Democratic hopeful, leads in the Democratic primary in the district over Clint Koble, former state executive director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency, by 27.2 percentage points as of Wednesday morning. Ackerman has 49.4 percent of votes, followed by Koble at 22.2 percent.

State Senate District 7

Democratic Assemblywoman Ellen Spiegel holds a 7.5 percentage point lead over former Nevada State Democratic Party Chair Roberta Lange in the race to represent this eastern Las Vegas and Henderson Senate district. As of Wednesday morning, Spiegel had secured 40.3 percent of the vote, followed by Lange at 32.7 percent and Assemblyman Richard Carrillo with 27 percent.

If Spiegel wins the race, it will represent a significant upset for the Nevada Senate Democratic Caucus, which had endorsed Lange. Spiegel significantly outraised both Lange and Carrillo in the race in the first quarter and had a massive war chest on hand.

Assembly District 2

Heidi Kasama, managing broker of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices-Nevada Properties, is leading in this crowded Republican primary to replace longtime Republican Assemblyman John Hambrick with 48.1 percent of the vote, or a 24.7 percent point lead, as of Wednesday morning. Erik Sexton, who works in commercial real estate, trails with 23.3 percent of the vote, followed by Jim Small, a retired member of the U.S. Senior Executive Service, with 20.1 percent.

Kasama is running with the backing of the Assembly Republican Caucus, while Sexton was endorsed by Las Vegas City Councilwoman Michele Fiore and former North Las Vegas Mayor Mike Montandon. Small had the support of former congressional candidate and businessman Danny Tarkanian and conservative commentator Wayne Allyn Root, among others.

Kasama significantly outraised her opponents in the first quarter, and the Alliance for Property Protection Rights PAC, which is funded by the National Association of REALTORS Fund, inserted itself into the GOP primary in support of her bid.

On the Democratic side, Jennie Sherwood, a journeywoman electrician, holds a narrow, 4 percentage point lead over Radhika “RPK” Kunnel, a law school student and former cancer biology professor. As of Wednesday morning, Sherwood had secured 34.3 percent of the vote, Kunnel had 30.3 percent and Democrat Eva Littman, had 25 percent.

Republicans have a good shot of keeping control of this seat come November, given the 2.3 percentage point voter registration advantage they hold in this district. The Assembly Democratic Caucus did not endorse in the primary.

Assembly District 4

Former Assemblyman Richard McArthur holds a 9.7 percentage point lead over Donnie Gibson, the owner of both a construction and equipment rental company in the GOP primary in this northwest Las Vegas Assembly district. As of Wednesday morning, McArthur had 54.9 percent of the vote to Gibson’s 45.1 percent.

McArthur, a former FBI special agent, has served three non-consecutive terms in the Assembly, two terms between 2008 and 2012 and one term from 2016 to 2018. Gibson, however, ran with the backing of the Assembly Republican Caucus in the primary.

The winner of the Republican primary will go on to face Democratic Assemblywoman Connie Munk, who did not draw a primary challenger. She won against McArthur in 2018 with a 120-vote margin out of nearly 30,000 votes cast.

Assembly District 16

Community activist Cecelia González is leading in this four-way Democratic primary to replace Democratic Assemblywoman Heidi Swank, who has represented the district since 2012 and opted not to run for re-election.

As of Wednesday morning, González had secured 47.5 percent of the vote, followed by Joe Sacco, a union trade show and conventions worker with IATSE Local 720 and a REALTOR, with 22.6 percent of the vote. Russell Davis, a two-decade Clark County employee and SEIU member, and online finance professor Geoffrey VanderPal trailed with 17.1 percent and 12.7 percent of the vote, respectively.

González and Davis had split the endorsement from major Democratic-aligned groups in the race. Both candidates were endorsed by the Nevada State AFL-CIO, while González was also endorsed by the Nevada State Education Association, the Culinary Union and the Nevada Conservation League, and Davis was endorsed by SEIU Local 110. The Assembly Democratic Caucus did not endorse in the primary.

The winner of the Democratic primary will likely go on to win the general election against the one Republican in the race, Reyna “Alex” Sajdak, because of the overwhelming voter registration advantage Democrats have in the district. 

Assembly District 18

Lisa Ortega, a master arborist and owner of Great Basin Sage Consulting, is leading in this four-way Democratic primary to replace Assemblyman Richard Carrillo, who is running for state Senate.

As of Wednesday morning, Ortega lead with 42.1 percent of the vote, followed by Venicia Considine, an attorney with Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, with 36.5 percent of the vote and Char Frost, a former campaign manager and legislative staffer for Carrillo, with 14.8 percent of the vote.

If Ortega wins, it will be a significant upset over Considine, who was running not only with the backing of the Assembly Democratic Caucus but SEIU Local 1107, Nevada State Education Association, Planned Parenthood Votes Nevada, the Culinary Union and the Nevada Conservation League. Considine had also raised nearly one and a half times as much as Ortega during the first quarter of the year.

Assembly District 19

Assemblyman Chris Edwards may be heading for defeat as Mesquite City Councilwoman Annie Black leads by a substantial 15.5 percentage points in her primary challenge against him. As of Wednesday morning, Black had 57.7 percent of the vote to Edwards’ 42.3 percent.

Black has been running to the right of the already conservative Edwards, who has served in the Assembly for three terms. A victory by Black would represent a significant upset in the race.

Whoever wins the primary will go on to win the general election in November, as there are no Democrats or third-party candidates in the race.

Assembly District 20

UNLV law professor David Orentlicher, who was running with the backing of the Assembly Democratic Caucus, is trailing Emily Smith, the CEO of the Nevada Blind Children’s Foundation, in the Democratic primary in this race to replace Assemblywoman Ellen Spiegel, who is running for state Senate.

As of Wednesday morning, Smith had 43.2 percent of the vote, while Orentlicher had 39.8 percent. Orentlicher raised about $5,000 in the first quarter of the year and had about $23,000 in cash on hand, while Smith raised only about $1,000 and had only $700 in the bank.

If Smith wins, it will be a significant upset over Orentlicher, who ran with the backing of almost all of the major Democratic-aligned organizations, including the Nevada State AFL-CIO, SEIU Local 1107, the Culinary Union, Planned Parenthood Votes Nevada, NARAL Pro-Choice Nevada and the Nevada Conservation League.

Assembly District 21

Attorney Elaine Marzola is leading with 43.6 percentage points over David Bagley, the director of operations for the stem cell diagnostics company Pluripotent Diagnostics and was also Marianne Williamson’s Nevada state director for her presidential campaign last year, in this Democratic primary to replace Assemblyman Ozzie Fumo, who is running for Nevada Supreme Court.

Marzola received most of the Democratic-aligned endorsement in the primary, including from the Assembly Democratic Caucus, the Nevada State AFL-CIO, Planned Parenthood Votes Nevada, the Culinary Union and the Nevada Conservation League. Bagley ran with the support of the Nevada State Education Association.

The winner of the primary will go on to face Republican Cherlyn Arrington in the general election, though Democrats hold a significant voter registration advantage in the district. Fumo defeated Arrington by 12.6 percentage points in 2018.

Assembly District 31

Former Assemblywoman Jill Dickman leads by 21.9 percentage points in a three-way Republican primary to represent this Northern Nevada Assembly district. As of Wednesday morning, Dickman had 53.8 percent of the vote, followed by Washoe County Republican Party treasurer Sandra Linares with 31.9 percent of the vote.

Dickman is hoping to reclaim the seat she held for one term and lost by fewer than 50 votes to Democratic Assemblyman Skip Daly in 2016. Daly did not face any primary challengers in the race.

Assembly District 36

Assemblyman Greg Hafen holds a narrow lead over challenger Dr. Joseph Bradley in the Republican primary in this rural Nevada Assembly district. Hafen was appointed to the seat after brothel owner Dennis Hof died weeks before the election but still won the seat.

Hafen, a fifth generation Nevadan and general manager of a Pahrump water utility company, had 52.6 percent of the vote as of Wednesday morning, while Bradley had 47.4 percent.

The winner of the primary is essentially guaranteed to go on to win the general election as no Democrats or candidates from other parties filed to run for the seat.

Assembly District 37

Andy Matthews, former president of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, holds a significant 18.3 percentage point lead over former television reporter and congressional candidate Michelle Mortensen in the GOP primary in this swingy Summerlin Assembly district. As of Wednesday morning, Matthews had 47.1 percent of the vote, while Mortensen had 28.8 percent.

Matthews secured a long list of endorsements in the primary, including from former Attorney General Adam Laxalt, several Trump campaign officials including Corey Lewandowski, Las Vegas City Councilwoman Michele Fiore and several current and former state lawmakers. He also was a top legislative fundraiser in the primary, outraising all other Republican Assembly candidates, including current office holders.

The winner of the primary will go on to challenge the incumbent, Democrat Shea Backus, who won the seat from Republican Assemblyman Jim Marchant by 135 votes in 2018. Democrats hold a narrow 2.2 percentage point voter registration advantage in the district, making it one of the swingiest Assembly seats this election cycle.

Nevada Supreme Court

District Judge Doug Herndon has a 10,000-vote lead over Assemblyman Ozzie Fumo in a state Supreme Court race, but appears unlikely to get more than 50 percent to end the race in the primary.

Incumbent Kristina Pickering is far ahead of her competitors, with 58 percent of the vote compared with 20 percent for Esther Rodriguez.

Clark County Commission

Assemblyman William McCurdy has a massive lead in a crowded Democratic field seeking to succeed Clark County Commissioner Lawrence Weekly in District D. Trailing McCurdy are Tanya Flanagan, then North Las Vegas City Councilman Isaac Barron and state Sen. Mo Denis, who has just under 10 percent of the vote.

Former Secretary of State Ross Miller has a commanding lead in the race to replace termed-out Commissioner Larry Brown. Miller has about 43 percent of the vote, far ahead of his next closest competitor, Hunter Cain, who has 18 percent of the vote.

Reno City Council

  • Councilman Devon Reese, who is seeking to retain an at-large seat for which all Reno voters have a say, has nearly 15,000 votes and is far ahead of challenger Eddie Lorton who has close to 10,000 votes.
  • Councilwoman Jenny Brekhus is about 800 votes ahead of challenger J.D. Drakulich in a race for a seat representing Ward 1. In third place is Britton Griffith, who was endorsed by Mayor Hillary Schieve but has less than half the votes of Brekhus.
  • Councilwoman Neoma Jardon has a wide lead over three opponents in the race for the Ward 5 seat.

Sparks City Council

  • Incumbent Donald Abbott has the lead in the race for Ward 1, with 735 votes, several hundred ahead of his next closest competitor, Wendy Stolyarov.
  • Appointed incumbent Paul Anderson has a clear lead in the race to retain his Ward 3 seat. His more than 1,300 votes put him far ahead of his next closest competitor, activist Elvira Diaz, who has 470 votes.

Clark County School Board

  • In District A, Lisa Guzman leads with 27 percent of the vote, followed by Liberty Leavitt with 18 percent.
  • In District B, Katie Williams — a candidate who garnered attention as an outspoken conservative who resisted social distancing guidance early in the pandemic — leads with 27 percent of the vote. Union business manager Jeff Proffitt is in second place with nearly 18 percent.
  • In District C, Barbara Dreyer is ahead with 22 percent of the vote, with Evelyn Garcia Morales in a close second with about 20 percent of the vote.
  • In District E, incumbent Lola Brooks has a modest lead with 22 percent of the vote, ahead of her next closest competitor, Christopher Craig, who has about 16 percent.

Washoe County School Board

  • Incumbent Scott Kelley has the advantage in the race to keep his District A seat, with about 5,300 votes, Challengers Jeff Church and Lisa Genasci are in a close race for second place.
  • Kurt Thigpen is dominating in the race for District D. With more than 6,200 votes, he is well ahead of his next closest competitor Stan Berk, who has about 3,300 votes.
  • Diane Nicolet has nearly double the vote count of her next closest competitor in the at-large District G seat. Her more than 14,000 votes put her far ahead of Craig Wesner, who is in second place with close to 8,000 votes.

Board of Regents

  • Former Regent Kevin Melcher has nearly 30 percent of the vote in the District 10 seat centered in Reno, while Joseph Arrascada is in second place with about 22 percent of the vote. Vince Lombardi and Andrew Diss are in third and fourth, respectively.
  • Patrick Boylan has 37 percent of the vote compared with Kevin Child’s 32 percent in the race for Southern Nevada’s District 5, a seat left open after the death of Regent Sam Lieberman this spring.
  • Byron Brooks holds a wide lead in the race for Southern Nevada’s District 3, with nearly 35 percent of the vote. Lachelle Fisher is in second with 23 percent, and former Assemblyman Stephen Silberkraus is in third with 22 percent.

Nevada State Board of Education

  • District 3 incumbent Felicia Ortiz has 61 percent of the vote, a wide lead over her next-closest competitor, Bruce James-Newman, who has 27 percent.
  • District 4 incumbent Mark Newburn is in a tight race with Rene Cantu. Newburn has 38 percent, compared with 37 percent for Cantu.
  • Katie Coombs had no competitors in her race for Northern Nevada’s District 2 seat.
  • In Southern Nevada’s District 1, Tim Hughes has 37 percent compared with 23 percent for Angelo Casino.

Douglas County Commission

  • Incumbent Dave Nelson is locked in a tight race with challenger Danny Tarkanian for the District 1 Republican primary. Nelson is ahead by 30 votes of the nearly 11,000 counted so far.
  • Mark Gardner leads Larry Walsh by more than 2,000 votes in the District 3 race.
  • Walt Nowosad is ahead of Nathan Tolbert by several hundred votes in District 5.

Carson City Mayor & Supervisors

  • Lori Bagwell has a commanding lead in her race for mayor, with 52 percent of the vote. Jim Shirk is in second, with 22 percent of the vote.
  • It’s a close three-way race for Ward 2 supervisor. Maurice “Mo” White has 33 percent of the vote, compared with Stacie Wilke-McCulloch’s 31 percent and Ronni Hannaman’s 30 percent.
  • Lisa Schuette ran away with the Ward 4 supervisor race, garnering 67 percent of the vote compared to 18 percent for second place competitor Ronald Bratsch.

More results here.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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.

Election Preview: State board candidates compete to have a hand in determining the future of education in Nevada

Nevada’s schools have had an unconventional year, faced with sudden closures and a shift to digital learning and the future is uncertain as administrators and elected officials determine what education will look like in the age of the coronavirus.

Just as schools let out for the summer, voters will have the opportunity to choose between the candidates who will sit on the state board that helps make these decisions.

The Nevada State Board of Education works in tandem with the state Department of Education, voting and adopting administrative regulations about allocations of funding, setting standards for areas of study and determining graduation requirements for Nevada’s high schoolers.

There are 11 seats on the board, chaired by Elaine Wynn, a director of Wynn Resorts; four of those are elected positions. Of the seven remaining seats, three are voting members nominated by the governor, the Senate, and the Assembly while the remaining four are nominated to represent the interests of various education-focused organizations.

The elected seats on the board represent each of Nevada’s four congressional districts, and all four are up for election this year, with two seats empty and two incumbents hoping to be re-elected.

Map of Nevada's Congressional Districts.

For these nonpartisan primary races, the field will be narrowed to two candidates who will go on to compete in the general election in November. If elected, candidates will serve four year terms on the board.

Though District 2 has only one candidate on the ballot, District 1’s crowded race has five candidates competing in the primary, including Tim Hughes, determined to win after losing the seat in 2016.

In District 3, candidate Justin “Steeve Strange” Mickanen is taking on Bruce James-Newman and incumbent Felicia Ortiz by touting his “Ban Schools” platform, and in District 4, board Vice President Mark Newburn hopes to successfully defend his seat against two competitors.

District 1

The Las Vegas Valley will see the most crowded race for the board this year, as Southern Nevada’s District 1 has five candidates vying for the seat.

Tim Hughes received the Culinary Union’s endorsement for the position as well as an endorsement from the AFL-CIO and the Clark County Education Association. 

Hughes’ campaign has reported $3,500 in contributions since January including a $1,000 donation from Leadership for Educational Equity, a non-profit organization focused on supporting diversity in educational leadership. As of April 15, the candidate had $2,265 cash on hand.

Hughes is the vice president for the western region of TNTP, a teacher training program, and formerly worked for Teach for America. Hughes also ran for the seat in 2016, losing to Robert Blakely.

Incumbent Blakely is not seeking re-election.

Newcomer Aaron Mason is also campaigning for the seat but hasn’t reported any contributions to his campaign this year. Mason is portraying himself as an outsider to a “broken system.” The Las Vegas resident is the director of ticket operations and analytics for the Las Vegas Lights FC soccer team and says he is running not as a politician or an educator but as a concerned father.

Mason is up against multiple career educators, including Michael Robison, a retired teacher, principal and associate professor. Robison has represented both the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the University of Phoenix at Board of Education meetings in the past.

Angelo Casino has been an educator for five years and currently teaches at a charter school. Career and technical education is a major issue for the candidate, who is advocating for increased vocational training as well as an increase in funding for magnet programs in schools.

Neither Casino nor Robison reported any campaign contributions.

The fifth candidate in the race is Steve Esh, a former electronics engineer who is self-funding his campaign with a $200 contribution made in his own name.

District 2

For Northern Nevada’s District 2 seat, Katie Coombs is the only candidate.  The Reno resident has worked in the financial industry and has written multiple parenting and lifestyle columns, including one in the Reno Gazette-Journal, in addition to hosting a radio show.

Incumbent Kevin Melcher is leaving the Board of Education to run for a position on the Nevada Board of Regents. Melcher was appointed to the board in September 2019 to finish the term of David Carter, who had resigned earlier that year.

Coombs has been endorsed by multiple organizations, including the Culinary Union and the Nevada State Education Association. Despite running unopposed, the candidate has spent $3,858 this year campaigning, leaving her with $634 cash on hand. 

District 3

In Southern Nevada's District 3, incumbent Felicia Ortiz faces two opponents in her push for a second term on the board.

Ortiz was first appointed to the board in 2016 by then-Gov. Brian Sandoval before running for and being elected to the District 3 seat later that year. Ortiz has received $9,265 in donations since January, including a $5,000 donation from the Clark County Education Association.

Ortiz’s competitors, Bruce James-Newman and Justin “Steeve Strange” Mickanen, have not reported any contributions made to their campaigns. 

Mickanen, an outspoken Trump supporter and founder of The Scoop, an online news platform, is campaigning on a “Ban Schools” platform, claiming that the public education system is about “indoctrination” rather than education.

James-Newman ran for Assembly as a Libertarian in 2018, losing the election for the District 29 seat which is currently held by Democrat Lesley Cohen.

District 4

District 4 includes the northern segment of Clark County and portions of Central Nevada. This district will also see an incumbent competing against two challengers. Mark Newburn, the vice president of the board, was first elected to the seat in 2012.

Newburn has received endorsements from the Nevada State Education Association and the Culinary Union. His campaign has been entirely self-funded, and he has spent over $2,700 this year on advertising expenses.

The candidate sits on multiple education boards and is the chair of the UNLV Computer Science Department Industry Advisory Board. Prior to his work in the public sector, he worked in the technology industry for 40 years.

Neither of Newburn’s competitors have reported any spending by their campaigns so far this year. 

Candidate Vincent Richardson has been endorsed by the Clark County Black Caucus. Richardson is an elementary school teacher and an instructor at the College of Southern Nevada where he previously worked as diversity coordinator. 

Rene Cantu, the executive director of Jobs for Nevada’s Graduates (JAG Nevada), has 29 years of education experience and previously served as the District E trustee for the Clark County School District. 

10:42 a.m.: This story was updated to reflect that Mark Newburn was elected in 2012, not 2016.

5:52 p.m.: This story was updated to correct the geographic descriptions of Districts 3 and 4.

Sisolak's calendar of first month shows meetings with union leaders, top officials

Gov. Steve Sisolak’s first month in office was dominated by meetings with top state and federal officials and with the individuals and groups that helped elect him last year.

According to a copy of Sisolak’s official calendar, the new governor held a slew of meetings and calls throughout January and the first week of February with education and business leaders, union heads, one Trump administration official and with California billionaire and Democratic megadonor Tom Steyer.

The Nevada Independent filed a records request for Sisolak’s calendar for the month of January and the first week of February on Feb. 7. Although scheduled meetings aren’t confirmation that a meeting actually happened or what topics were discussed, a look at the governor’s calendar provides valuable insight into which individuals Sisolak met with and heard from as he began planning for his first legislative session as governor.

"During the governor’s first weeks in office, he met face-to-face with all 63 legislators, signed a landmark bill to close the gun background check loophole, established a task force on sexual harassment, and more," Sisolak spokeswoman Helen Kalla said in an email. "Additionally, the governor has traveled around the state to meet Nevadans where they are – from Elko to Las Vegas to tribal communities across Northern Nevada. "

Here’s who Sisolak met with during his first month in office:

Interest Groups

Sisolak’s calendar shows a meeting on Jan. 22 with one political adviser — Megan Jones, a former political director for Sen. Harry Reid and a longtime Democratic political consultant involved in multiple ballot questions and dozens of races for statewide and legislative candidates. Her firm, Hilltop Public Solutions, also helped run the campaign for Question 1 in 2016, requiring background checks on most private gun sales and transfers. The measure was never implemented despite being approved by voters because of the FBI’s refusal to conduct the background checks.

Earlier this month, Sisolak signed SB143 into law — a fix of the 2016 voter-approved initiative that requires the state and not the federal government to conduct the background checks. Jones didn’t return an email seeking comment as to the purpose of the meeting.

On the education side, Sisolak also reported meeting with Clark County Education Association union leader John Vellardita and Clark County School District Superintendent Jesus Jara on Jan. 30. Sisolak’s proposed $8.8 billion budget includes a 3 percent raise for teachers and upwards of $156 million more in state funds for education, the bulk of which will go to the school district.

Vellardita, whose union strongly supported Sisolak in both the primary and general elections, declined to say what was discussed at the meeting beyond reiterating that CCEA and the district will work together on issues that matter to both, including a weighted school funding formula.

A meeting like this reflects that intent,” he said.

The new governor also scheduled a call with Tom Steyer, the California billionaire whose NextGen America organization spent millions of dollars to run ads and registered voters to assist Nevada Democrats in the 2018 election. Steyer — who also helped fund ballot measures raising renewable energy production standards and requiring automatic voter registration at the DMV — was unable to communicate with Sisolak or other candidates because of rules on campaign coordination and spoke with the new governor about his organization’s accomplishments and goals.

“They discussed NextGen America’s work in 2018 which led to historic turnout among young voters and the passage of Question 6— and NextGen’s commitment to continuing that work in 2019 and beyond,” NextGen America spokeswoman Aleigha Cavalier said in an email.

The calendar also shows a scheduled meeting with AFSCME President Lee Saunders on Feb. 4 in the governor’s Carson City office. During the 2018 campaign, the union spent more than $3.7 million through a PAC aimed at boosting Sisolak and hitting his Republican opponent, Adam Laxalt. Sisolak has embraced and highlighted one of the union’s top goals — collective bargaining for state employees — in his State of the State speech.

A spokesperson for the union said Saunders and Sisolak discussed “their shared belief that public service workers, like all Nevadans, deserve the freedom to negotiate a fair return on their work.”

The governor also reported meeting with representatives of electric car manufacturer Tesla on Feb. 5.

Sisolak also reported meeting with UNITE HERE president D. Taylor on Feb. 8. The union’s local branch, the Culinary Union Local 226, played a huge role in Democratic turnout operations in the 2018 election, sending 1.8 million mail pieces, knocking on thousands of doors and making thousands of calls to support Democratic candidates.

Bethany Khan, a spokeswoman for the Culinary Union, declined to answer an emailed question as to the purpose of the meeting.

Not all of the meetings were directly related to pressing issues. The governor scheduled a meeting in Las Vegas with Jan Jones Blackhurst, the former Las Vegas mayor and Caesars Entertainment executive on Jan. 18, but Blackhurst said the scheduled meeting was more a chance to catch up rather than talk about any particular issue.

“It was more of a social visit than anything else,” she said.

State and federal government

Sisolak’s first month in office was peppered with scheduled meetings with top state and federal officials.

In one of his first meetings scheduled on his calendar, the governor met with Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto at the state party’s offices in Las Vegas. His first call with a member of President Donald Trump’s administration came on Feb. 5, with acting Interior Department Secretary David Bernhardt (nominated just a day prior to the call), as part of an introductory call and brief overview of state land and wildlife issues.

He also reported meeting with the state’s lone Republican statewide official, Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, on Feb. 4 — the first day of the legislative session.

The governor’s calendar also shows a slew of meetings with top state education officials, including several members of the State Board of Education.

He scheduled calls with three members of the board — Mark Newburn on Feb. 4, Robert Blakley and Tamara Hudson on Feb. 5, and a meeting with David Carter on Feb. 7. Department spokesman Greg Bortolin said the governor “reached out to members of the Board of Education that he did not know and introduced himself.”

The calendar also shows scheduled calls with three senior Nevada Department of Transportation staff — Tracy Larkin, Bill Hoffman and Cole Mortensen — on Jan. 24. Sisolak recommended that Kristina Swallow, a former City of Las Vegas engineer, head the transportation department in late January.

Department of Transportation spokesman Tony Illia said in an email that the meetings were “information-gathering meetings for the governor to learn more about how the department runs and hear feedback from its employees.”

Sisolak also met with every state lawmaker for short meetings during the first week of the legislative session — including 30 scheduled ten-minute meetings with legislators on Feb. 26 in their respective offices. The day prior, Feb. 5, he scheduled short meetings with Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson and Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson in their respective offices.

The calendar also sheds some light into the governor’s process for appointments. He scheduled a meeting with former Eighth Judicial District Court discovery commissioner Bonnie Bulla on Feb. 7, six days before his office announced that she would be appointed to a vacant seat on the Nevada Court of Appeals. He also scheduled a meeting with fellow court applicants Tracie Lindeman on Feb. 5 and District Court Judge Jerry Weise on Feb. 6, as well as a meeting with Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Gibbons on Jan. 29.

Sisolak Calendar by Riley Snyder on Scribd