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Some Lyon County residents want to ban brothels, saying it's bad for the county's image and problematic for its residents.
Kimberly Mull, one of the supporters trying to gather some 3,300 signatures--enough to get a referendum on the fall ballot--said it's time for brothels there to go away.
"One of the things that drew me in was the passion (of Lyon County residents) to say, these women are part of our community and we want to make sure they are taken care of," Mull said. "Residents want to make sure that these women have other opportunities such as jobs and skills training and resources available to them once the brothels close."
Dennis Hof, who owns four brothels in Lyon County--he owns six total in Nevada--said legal brothels prevent other parts of Nevada from becoming like Las Vegas, where prostitution is illegal.
Prostitutes in Las Vegas, he said, "come in and ply their trade illegally, spread diseases, rob people, have pimps, underage sex trafficking and ... so you have it one way or the other. It's not like it's going away ... and like liquor, like marijuana, like the lotto, it needs to be controlled."
Hof also pointed out that his business is the largest taxpayer in the county and employs dozens of people most of whom live in Lyon County.
He also said brothels have been a part of the landscape in rural Nevada for decades and that Mull "doesn't understand" Nevada. He added that women in his brothels earn $75,000 to $100,000 annually for working seven to 10 days a month.
Mull countered that just because something's been around a long time doesn't mean it's good.
"The reality is 50 years ago, there were a lot of things in our country that we are not proud of ... just because things are around for a long time does not mean that it is ... good and representative of what the community feels."
From her talks with prostitutes, Mull added that she believes most prostitutes in brothels still have pimps on the outside.
"So while they might be making $75,000," she said. "Then they are turning that over to their pimp who might give them a small portion of that."
In addition, she said society should be ashamed that 1,000 women per month are applying to be prostitutes at Hof's businesses. She said the community should offer women more choices so they don't have to exploit themselves to make money.
(Editor's note: This discussion originally aired April 2018)
Dennis Hof, brothel owner; Kimberly Mull, supporter, No Little Girl referendum push
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