In the wake of the contention regarding brothel operations in Nye County, several local citizens have stepped forward and filed a petition that could signal the end of an era and put a stop to the local industry altogether.
Pahrump resident Ron Fairbairn, a former pastor, and James Huntington, Karen Cohen, Keith Walker and Kermit Neal Owen have banded together to form what they call Citizens Against Brothels in Nye County.
The five officially filed a petition with the Nye County Clerk’s Office on April 17. The petition outlines the group’s desire to have a question placed on the 2018 General Election ballot asking voters whether or not to do away with the county’s brothel ordinance and therefore halt the operation of houses of prostitution in Nye County.
In order to succeed, the group must gather no less than 1,963 signatures from currently registered voters in Nye County.
If the petition receives the necessary support, the November election will be the deciding factor in whether brothels become a thing of the past. As written, the question asks if voters approve of the county’s brothel ordinance. Thus, it would require “Yes” votes from those wishing to keep brothels in Nye County and “No” votes from those who want to see the industry eliminated.
“We have been working on this for a long time but it has finally come to fruition. We are able to say now is the time, with everything going on in our community and around Nevada, it is time that we get rid of the reputation as a brothel town and a brothel county,” Fairbairn explained in an interview on April 18. “We want people to go to NoLittleGirl.org. We are working with that group. We had come together here and then we learned that they had already put together a petition to close the brothels in Lyon County, so it was just a perfect marriage.”
Nevada brothel mogul and candidate for Nevada Assembly District 36 Dennis Hof said he does not agree with the actions of either group as he feels they infringe on the liberty for which the Silver State has always been so well-known.
“Prostitution has been a part of Nevada since the 1850s and was legalized in the early 1970s. It’s part of the culture of Nevada. Mining, gaming, girls and liquor,” Hof asserted. “Nye County has got it right. It’s very heavily controlled. And I think it’s sad that people try to impose their morals on Nevada.
“This state is about freedom, freedom of choice,” Hof continued. “They shouldn’t be trying to push their morals on all of us. And the brothels are a lot like Walmart and church, you don’t go unless you need something. Nobody is forcing anybody to go to the brothels. I just wish people would live and let live. That’s what Nevada is known for.”
Fairbairn, on the other hand, said his group firmly believes the brothel industry is a detriment to the county and dissuades positive economic growth.
“The biggest thing that is going to come up is the fiscal impact of closing these places but I think the fiscal impact of having brothels here is actually negative. There are corporations that will not move into Nye County because of the brothels. Having them here gives us a negative reputation, ” Fairbairn declared. “It is no more than sex trafficking.”
Fairbairn also noted that though the group’s goal is to ban brothels, the petition is merely a tool to allow voters to have a say in the industries permitted in their county. “Ladies are coming forward and saying, ‘It’s about time that we get to vote our minds about the brothels in Nye County.’ This initiative is about the citizens of Nye County,” he stated. “They want a voice. That’s all we are getting out there, is an opportunity for citizens to have a voice.”
Not long ago, Nye County Commissioner Lorinda Wichman was contemplating just such a move as well, asking county staff to look into how to go about having a measure addressing brothels placed on the general election ballot. However, in light of the petition filed by Citizens Against Brothels in Nye County, Wichman was reached for comment on whether an effort by the county would move forward. Wichman responded, “No, I don’t believe the county will be weighing in on this.”
Nye County residents are not the only ones looking to ban brothels either. In Lyon County, the “No Little Girl” campaign is underway and the organizers have the exact same goal, elimination of the brothel industry in their county. However, the Lyon County petition has a larger hurdle to clear on its journey to the ballot, requiring a total of 3,355 signatures in order to become a question in the general election.
For Hof, a successful endeavor by the two groups could create a large hole in his business empire which, along with businesses such as gas stations, restaurants and bars scattered across the state, currently includes six brothels, two in Nye County and four in Lyon County.
In addition to Hof’s Love Ranch South in Crystal and Alien Cathouse in Amargosa Valley, Nye County is home to two other brothels, Sheri’s Ranch and the Chicken Ranch in Pahrump.
Lyon County is also the home of four brothels, including Hof’s Love Ranch North and Bunny Ranch as well as his Sagebrush Ranch and Kit Kat Guest Ranch, all located in Mound House.
Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @pvtimes
On the Web
Go to pvtimes.com to see Tim Burke’s recent opinion column that focuses on what is the fiscal impact for the county and Pahrump residents of having legalized prostitution in our community.