The Nevada Supreme Court denied an emergency stay Tuesday that was sought by the Town of Pahrump in its bid to place open town board seats on the November ballot.
The latest setback appears to signal the court may soon rule in the matter of the county versus the town over a 2012 ballot question approved by voters to transform the town board into an advisory board. Advisory boards make decisions but any expenditures are first approved by county commissioners.
The town’s attorneys sought an emergency stay in January in District Court. But the effort there met with failure, as well. A similar motion was then filed with the Supreme Court on Feb. 5.
Town attorneys argued that “absent a stay, the citizens of Pahrump will be denied the ability to run for office and to elect their town board.”
The town’s motion continued, “If, for example, this Court finds in favor of the Town on its appeal (of the ballot question) yet denies the stay, the government would have to be reconstituted, and the Board of County Commissioners would be responsible for appointing the vacant elected offices (the whole of the town board).”
The county answered the motion on Feb. 19 and argued that the town had 32 weeks in which to seek a stay and yet waited until the 11th hour to make its case.
The Supreme Court was quick and terse in its ruling.
“Having considered the parties’ arguments, we conclude that a stay is not warranted,” the court’s order reads.
Both town and county officials continue to wait for the court’s overall ruling in the ballot question matter.
That costly legal row was sparked by Commissioner Butch Borasky, who introduced the idea in July 2012 after becoming upset by what he said was the lack of respect paid to the public by town board members. The county commission agreed to place a ballot question before voters and in November 2012 it barely won, 7,294 to 7,063.
In August 2012, months before the vote, the town sought an injunction. That maneuver failed to stop the vote.
In March 2013, the town lost its fight in District Court to overturn the election results. An appeal of that ruling was filed with the Supreme Court in April 2013.
Town board member Dr. Tom Waters said he believes county officials have already assumed there will be no individuals running for the town board in this year’s election because of the looming ruling.
“It’s like they have already assumed the Supreme Court is going to uphold what the county said. We are saying ‘let the people run for the town board and if the town board is dissolved, then the people understand,’” he said.