Hof’s death brings uncertainty to the contest for Nevada Assembly District 36 seat

The race for Nevada Assembly District 36 started out with extreme contention and has even drawn not just national but international attention, with what seemed to be the entire world watching as Nevadans prepared to decide who would represent them in the coming years.

With the spotlight so squarely on this race, shockwaves of surprise rolled through the country when Nevada brothel owner and Republican nominee Dennis Hof’s death was announced on Oct. 16, just two days after his 72nd birthday.

The race is not over yet, however, with the 2018 general election just a few short weeks away. Democratic candidate for Assembly District 36 Lesia Romanov is the only living candidate remaining on the ballot for District 36 and she is working to impress voters in what is known to be a Republican stronghold, hoping to sway them to her side.

Lesia Romanov

An assistant principal at an elementary school with 20 years in the education system, Romanov, a Democrat, said she decided to enter the political fray because she wants to represent those she has been working for and with for so many years.

“I wanted to get involved in politics and to provide a voice for my students and my teachers, with the whole gun issue. Teachers don’t often come out of their classrooms, they are focused on the students, making sure they get a good education, so they don’t advocate for themselves for the most part,” Romanov said. “And I love the kids and I am always working with the community, with parents, with my students, I’m fully engaged and that’s just who I am.”

Though she did not start out working in at-risk schools, once she did she said that changed her perspective. “Work at at-risk school, you see the struggles facing the students and their families, you see a whole different world. You see the way that they are falling through the cracks and the health care needs and these little kids that are dealing with things that most adults can’t deal with. That’s why I got involved. I want to have a bigger spectrum in which to help.”

Specifically, Romanov said marijuana monies were a major point for her.

“I really want to be involved in the refunding formula for education. You know with the marijuana tax, that supplanted the money that was there instead of adding to it. That was not what was supposed to happen. But then you have to change legislation because the education system can’t use it unless it is legislated appropriately,” she remarked.

Romanov noted that she had not anticipated who her opponent would be in the election but she was not allowing that to dissuade her. Romanov is counting on the crossing of party lines this election, with several Republicans already coming out to state they would be voting for the Democrats this year instead of their own party.

“In this case, it’s important that people realize it shouldn’t be about party lines,” Romanov said. “And we can’t fight the money that is being thrown at it but I can do the grassroots, knocking on doors and talking to people in the community. That’s how we are going to win. Just by having people know who I am, talking to me, talking to their friends, getting out there.”

For more information on Romanov visit www.lesiaromanov.com

Dennis Hof

Hof was the Republican nominee for the Assembly District 36 seat, having ousted incumbent James Oscarson in the June primary. He may have been best known as a brothel owner but Hof’s experience was much more than just that, with a variety of businesses in his name and years of business management under his belt. Hof had expressed his certainty that he would win this Nov. 6 and was already undertaking preparations for his transition from business owner to legislator, purchasing homes in the Pahrump Valley and setting up what would have been his offices if he had won.

“I want voters to know I am a rural guy, I live in rural counties and understand the rural lifestyle,” Hof stated in his final interview with the Pahrump Valley Times before his death. “Right now 30 of the 42 Assembly representatives we have are from Las Vegas. We don’t need a 31st. We need someone who will fight and understands what the rural community needs. The water issues, the BLM issues, the fish and game issues, all of that. My opponent, she’s not in tune with the rural lifestyle, she doesn’t understand our needs.”

Hof’s flagship issue since his first attempt at the Assembly seat in 2016 had steadfastly been the repeal of the Nevada Commerce Tax, the largest tax hike in the state’s history. However, that effort will now have to fall to the hands of others who opposed the Commerce Tax.

Voters will have to select between Hof and Romanov on the general election ballot, making the choice essentially one of a Republican appointee or a Democrat. If Hof comes out of the general with the highest vote percentage, the county commissions of Nye, Clark and Lincoln counties will be tasked with appointing a Republican to take Hof’s two-year term. If Romanov wins, she will take the seat as usual at the start of 2019. To ensure voters are aware that Hof is no longer living, signs will be posted at the polls notifying residents of Hof’s death.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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