Hopefuls stump for votes at Lincoln Day dinner

Thirty-four candidates running in the 2014 election had two minutes each to state their case for why they should get elected.

The introductions were part of the 35th Annual Lincoln Day Dinner sponsored by the Pahrump Republican Women’s Club at the Pahrump Nugget Friday night.

A few candidates spoke even though they are running in so-far uncontested races: Nye County Clerk Sam Merlino, County Treasurer Richard Billman and County Recorder Deborah Beatty. U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., was in attendance but didn’t take the podium.

A number of speakers used the occasion to speak against the overreaching federal government. Congressional candidate Niger Innis said the same liberties people fought for in the Revolutionary War are being eroded today. His primary opponent, Assemblyman Crescent Hardy, R-Mesquite, said the policies of President Barack Obama, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. have the country teetering on the edge of financial ruin.

Lt. Governor candidate Sue Lowden said her job would be the chairman of state tourism. A former owner of two hotels for 30 years, Lowden took credit for bringing the rodeo back to Las Vegas and the Miss America Pageant as a board member of Las Vegas Events; she pledged to bring events to Pahrump.

Lowden’s opponent, State Sen. Mark Hutchison, R-Las Vegas, said he started a law firm in Las Vegas with 47 lawyers and 100 employees, when the Nevada Attorney General refused to join a suit against Obama’s Affordable Care Act, Hutchison said he worked on the case on a pro bono basis. “I walked away from that experience saying I want to be involved in state government because it’s the last line of defense, it’s the last opportunity to protect our constitutional rights,” he said.

State Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, said she had a business for 13 years before years as a legislator in the Assembly and Senate. A candidate for secretary of state, she said they manage five areas but the most important is elections. “I promise you that I will protect the integrity of elections,” Cegavske said.

“It’s about time we had a state treasurer who knows what he’s doing. I have 35 years experience,” said Dan Schwartz, a candidate for that office. “We have $2 billion in the general fund, which earns nominally one-half of 1 percent. But when you figure after inflation we are losing money as a state.”

The state has a private equity fund for which Nevadans are paying out $6.6 million in fees, he said.

State controller candidate Barry Herr, president of the Nevada Society of Certified Public Accountants, emphasized his experience saving his clients money. “I can actually sign an audit and financial statement for this state. You have to be a CPA to do that,” he said.

Herr’s primary opponent, Ron Knecht, boasted he served in the 2003 state assembly with Bob Beers, Don Gustavson and Pete Goicoechea, part of a group of 15 assemblymen that stopped the gross receipts tax.

“We were the mean 15. The gross receipts is coming back to you again this year on the ballot,” Knecht said, adding he signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge and has been a limited government conservative on the Nevada Board of Regents for Higher Education.

Attorney general candidate Adam Laxalt said the AG can act aggressively to protect the state. “The federal government is absolutely squeezing us dry, it’s taking away our liberties and it’s taking away our rights,” he said.

State Sen. Don Gustavson, R-Sparks, who represents northwest Nye County, said he drafted two petitions, one to do away with the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange, the other to require photo identification to vote. Assemblyman James Oscarson, R-Pahrump, was proud of helping defeat Assembly Bill 221, which he said would’ve created onerous gun legislation that would’ve impacted everyone.

Fifth Judicial District Judge candidate Lillian Donohue emphasized her experience practicing law in Nevada for 37 years and is ready to move up to judge. “I believe everyone deserves justice and I will have that be my motto and that will be the way I will govern,” she said.

Incumbent Judge Robert Lane said he learned punctuality in the U.S. Navy. “As judge I’ve never been late for court in 21 years, never missed a day of court even when the kids were real sick with e-coli,” he said. “I get all my decisions out within a day or two, work real hard, I’ve got great staff, rarely been reversed, never had to redo a trial or civil or anything else, have a really good record.”

Three candidates plan to run for county assessor: Property appraiser Sheree Stringer; Richard Marshall, a 31-year governmental appraiser and Carmelo’s restaurant owner Leonardo Blundo.

Butch Borasky, Nye County District 4 commissioner, said his platform is small government, less regulation and more accountability. He boasted the One Stop Shop in the Calvada Eye would save $80,000 to $90,000 per year in transportation costs for county employees.

District 5 commission challenger Dave Caudle said, “I’m retired and I’ve been able to be a pain in the backside of commissioners for the last few years.” Incumbent Dan Schinhofen said he was advised to take it easy his first year in office, but in his first month he passed a resolution to have prayer at the commission meetings, his second month a resolution calling on the U.S. Department of Energy and Nuclear Regulatory Commission to move forward licensing Yucca Mountain.

“Over the past five years we have cut the county budget by $5 million and 50 employees and I hope you will want me to continue to work for you,” Schinhofen said.

District attorney candidate Angela Bello, a Las Vegas attorney, said she would have an open door policy, like President Lincoln. Public administrator candidate Bob Pilkington, owner of My Paralegal, announced his Agent Orange policy, where people could post contact information in case of death, for emergency crews.

Six sheriff’s candidates took to the microphone, leading candidate Tom O’Donnell, an advocate of community policing, to remark, “if things weren’t broken there wouldn’t be this many candidates running for sheriff.” Retired Capt. Bill Becht and Assistant Sheriff Rick Marshall mentioned their educational credentials, District Attorney investigator Sharon Wehrly wanted standardization, accountability and accreditation. Detective Eric Murphy pledged he would hold every officer accountable. Galen Morgan, a former California Department of Corrections investigator, said he’d hold accountable those who violate the law, and said no other sheriff’s candidate identified the need to uphold the constitution.

While everyone was looking forward to this year’s elections, Las Vegas City Councilman Bob Beers, a former state senator, drew cheers when he said he would run against U.S. Senator Harry Reid in 2016.

“Washington is just simply not sustainable. You cannot borrow money like this,” he said. “Won’t you please help me increase Searchlight’s population by two?”

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