Introducing the candidates: A look at who’s running for Clark County Commission

Posted Sunday, 24 May 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

The June 9 primary election for the Clark County Commission will feature only Democrats. Incumbent Michael Naft is running for reelection in District A, while Districts C and D are up for grabs with termed-out commissioners Larry Brown and Vice Chairman Lawrence Weekly leaving their seats. With only one Republican candidate for each district, Michael Thomas will advance to the general election in District A. District C will see Republican Las Vegas City Councilman Stavros Anthony as a challenger in November. In District D, the Democratic primary winner will run against independents David Goosen, Henry Thorns and Stanley Washington. The general election in District B will pit Marilyn Kirkpatrick, the incumbent and chairwoman of the commission, against Republican Kevin Williams. Neither has a primary challenger. Here’s a look at the Democratic candidates: District A Michael Naft The incumbent Naft worked as the district director for Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., from 2013 to 2019 before being tabbed as Gov. Steve Sisolak’s replacement on the county commission. “My highest priorities include enhancing pedestrian safety, upgrading our roadways and infrastructure and streamlining access to vital county programs,” Naft said on his campaign website. Naft is passionate about traffic safety, creating the county’s first-ever Traffic Safety Commission, where he serves as chairman. Naft is also the vice chairman of the Kyle Canyon and Big Bend Water District. While working under Titus, Naft focused his attention on streamlining access to public programs and improving road and pedestrian safety. Naft serves on the Anti-Defamation League’s board of directors and as a director for Temple Beth Sholom in Las Vegas. Ken “Sully” O’Sullivan O’Sullivan is an advocate for infrastructure projects, noting that Allegiant Stadium, while admittedly a budgetary strain, will benefit the community in the long haul. “I have a great passion for Las Vegas and hope that our professional sports will promote a sense of place and a spirit that will help unite us in this difficult time,” he said. O’Sullivan also believes in a bipartisan approach in Southern Nevada’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. “We must rally across party lines for infrastructure projects and funds from the federal government for our cities,” he said, adding that there is no other choice but to get through the hardship together. “We fight for our collective journey. Whether it’s a grand strategy or a winning strategy, we are at the center of the struggle together,” he said. District CPatsy Brown Brown comes from a family of entrepreneurs, all dedicated to public service. “I love where I live, and I worked very hard to be here,” she said on her campaign website. “I feel that for some reason the sun just seems to shine just a little brighter over Summerlin. It truly is a piece of heaven on earth, and I would be honored to represent my community.” Before entering politics, Brown worked in Southern Nevada for 25 years as a restaurateur and operated her own product development firm. “My standards are very high, and I will continue to fight for change until our vision as a community has been reached,” she said. Brown cares deeply about pedestrian and bicycle safety in Clark County. If elected, she would push for sidewalk and crosswalk improvements, as well as proper traffic signs and signals. As a member and liaison officer of the Armed Forces Chamber, Brown touts herself as a lifetime advocate for veterans. Hunter Cain A foster parent of four teenage sons, Cain wants to take his ethos from foster parenting to the commission. Cain, who is bisexual, would be the first open LGBTQ member on the commission. These intersections of identity are important to Cain, who said he was partly inspired to run for office by Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., a representative who “looked like me.” If elected, Cain would work toward reforming the Department of Family Services, creating affordable and homeless housing, and making major improvements to the county’s Business Advisory Council. Cain is also largely focused on veterans issues, which is why he said he would create a county Department of Veterans Affairs. Renewable energy, transportation and representing marginalized communities in Southern Nevada are also issues he cares deeply about. “In 2019 low graduation rates, housing opportunities, and police brutality are still plaguing my community,” Cain said on his campaign website. “We need a commission that demands transparency when addressing these and other racial issues.” Gary Hosea A former correctional officer and university professor, Hosea said he has “always excelled in leadership.” Hosea works as a Clark County public works department employee. He has run for the commission three times before as a Republican. “When I looked at the other candidates, both Democratic and Republican, my mom and others told me it was my duty to run as you could make a difference in our lives and the community,” he said. Hosea prioritizes providing the “most bang” and creating a “quality experience” for visitors. He also wants more services in place for the homeless population. “The county does little for our homeless population,” he said. “We need to better work with our other municipalities to assist our homeless and integrate them back into the community.” He believes that commissioners should represent the entire county, and not just their district. “That is why I feel it is imperative for the commission to be a full-time job without any outside influences other than the people,” he said. Ross Miller Miller, who calls himself “the most trusted name in Nevada Democratic politics,” said he’s running for District C to restore the “people’s voice” and “will continue outgoing Commissioner Larry Brown’s efforts to put more police in our neighborhoods, build more parks, and improve our infrastructure.” Miller served as the Nevada secretary of state from 2007 to 2015. At age 30, he was the youngest secretary of state in the history of Nevada. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Ross has been dedicated himself in outreach to “flatten the curve” in Nevada, hosting multiple virtual town halls since early on in the outbreak. During his tenure as secretary of state, Miller was selected to serve as president of the National Association of Secretaries of State in 2012. Today, he serves as vice president of Clark Hill’s Government & Regulatory Affairs practice group. Miller is also a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and board member of HELP of Southern Nevada. His father, Bob Miller, was the Nevada governor 1989 to 1999. Jenny Penney Born and raised in Clark County, Penney said she cares deeply for her hometown and wants to make a difference through positive changes and community involvement. She wants to make it stronger “by applying for grants, helping small businesses, and restructuring public schools.” After getting involved with Just One Project — Southern Nevada’s Largest Mobile Food Pantry — Penney said she gained a new perspective on the lives of those most affected by the pandemic. “(It) has given me insight on what area of the district needs help and can no longer be overlooked, sustainable housing, planning for today and tomorrow, and safety need to be better implemented and maintained,” she said. Penney said she also believes in transparency, assuring the public that there will be no closed-door meetings under her watch. Fayyaz Raja A Pakistani-American and political activist, Raja serves as the chair of the Asian American Pacific Islanders Democratic Caucus. The independent insurance agent has more than 40 years of experience in the private sector, according to his campaign Facebook page. He wants to bring diversity to the board, adding that Asian American and Pacific Islanders are “seriously under-represented in the political community.” Raja unsuccessfully ran in 2014 for District 34 of the Nevada Assembly. District D Isaac Barron The first Hispanic member of the North Las Vegas City Council, Barron has been serving Ward 1 since 2013. He was also Southern Nevada’s first Hispanic mayor pro tempore. The son of a kitchen worker and a maid, Barron comes from a “humble immigrant background,” according to his campaign website. The native North Las Vegan taught English language learners, social studies and adult education in schools throughout Clark County School District. During the statewide government shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, Barron championed an ordinance to penalize landlords who violate the COVID-19 eviction moratorium. Moises Denis The son of Cuban immigrants and father of five, Denis served in the Nevada Legislature for 16 years — six in the Assembly and now in his 10th year in the Nevada Senate. Denis was also the first Latino to serve as Senate majority leader. District D has been his home for 40 years. “Clark County Commission District D is a very diverse district with unique needs that needs a commissioner that will get things done from Day One,” he said. “I believe I am best prepared and experienced to do that.” Denis said he is focused on improving economic diversification in Southern Nevada. He also aims to provide more resources for the homeless community. “I believe that I can bring together the people and resources that will eliminate homelessness in Clark County,” he said, emphasizing the importance of affordable housing, mental health and substance abuse support and COVID-19 health and economic recovery. Tanya Flanagan A longtime health care advocate, Flanagan’s top priority is improving the health care system in Clark County. It’s a message she’s touted long before the COVID-19 pandemic. “I’m especially focused on women’s health, because women’s health is community health,” she said in a campaign video released on March 7. Her experience with breast cancer is what launched her into health care advocacy. It’s an issue that hits especially home for her, after losing a mother to the disease and being diagnosed with it on three occasions. “When I talk to people in our district, the story always comes back to health care,” she said. “Health is about so much more than being able to see a doctor.” Flanagan believes the county at large should invest in its residents, especially in women. “I want to bring my experience, and the experiences I’ve heard from so many other women. Women’s voices and women’s issues need to be heard and reflected in county policy,” she wrote on her campaign website. “If you trust me with your vote, I will open a door for your voice. Together, we can share our stories, find the courage to help one another, and create solutions that help everyone in our district thrive.” Deepen Kothari Kothari first moved to Las Vegas in 2010 to teach science at Mike O’Callaghan Middle School. Since then, he’s been involved with several nonprofits throughout the valley. “I filed for commissioner to help strengthen partnerships between the government and local nonprofits; COVID-19 has made that goal imperative as Clark County will need to leverage its non-financial resources in the face of decreased revenues,” he said. COVID-19 made the digital divide painfully obvious, Kothari said, which is why, if elected, he’d focus on bolstering the technological infrastructure in the county. “We need free citywide WiFi to empower students to maximize their education and to enable adults to pursue further career training and find new jobs,” he said. “Investments in telemedicine will yield easier access to better medical care for residents and greater efficiency for health care providers.” William McCurdy II A member of the Nevada Assembly, McCurdy grew up in historic West Las Vegas, where many of his friends and peers were killed due to gun violence, he said in a campaign video. His parents sent him to school in Summerlin. The disparity between the two neighborhoods was palpable. “Education and the advancement of educational opportunity to all is a passion for me, stemming from my own life experiences,” he said on his campaign website. McCurdy dropped out of high school as a teenager when he became a father and needed to work to support his family. But eventually he earned a high school diploma, and later graduated from the College of Southern Nevada. He’s working toward an urban studies degree from UNLV with plans to attend the Boyd School of Law. That’s why McCurdy is a strong advocate for educational opportunities and improving schools his district. “Commission District D needs a fighter,” he said. “Nothing will get done being passive and being someone who just goes along with everything.” Jesus Moreno Jesus Moreno is a public works employee for Clark County. He did not respond to the Sun’s inquiry for an interview. Dillard Allen Scott Scott is a fourth-generation resident of the district, where he’s “always enjoyed the small town ambiance of the westside.” Scott said he loves his community, as it is a melting pot of immigrants and Americans who migrated north to the city in the early 1940s. “We are in a pivotal moment in time to level the playing field and establish staying power with our district,” he said. “Now is the time to become fiscally stable to build and create an infrastructure that is comparable to neighboring communities. We cannot continue to be the ink-spot of poverty on Southern Nevada’s map.” Bringing integrity and the “business of people” back to District D is an issue that’s most important. “What this means is we can’t elect a Democratic pawn who panders to mother on Mother’s Day with flowers, teases our families at Thanksgiving with turkeys, bamboozles our children with backpacks for school and bikes at Christmas,” he said.

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