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Governor Sisolak's Former Friends Now Want To Unseat Him

(AP Photo/John Locher, File)

In this May 8, 2018, file photo, then-Clark County Commission member Steve Sisolak speaks during a forum for Nevada gubernatorial candidates organized by Nevada faith groups in Las Vegas.

Can a mayor from North Las Vegas win the governor’s job? What about a sheriff from Clark County?

And a state lawmaker from Northern Nevada, who once used the words, “simple-minded darkies” in a newspaper column, has come under fire again.

Here to talk politics is Fred Lokken, political science professor for the Truckee Meadows Community College.

Discussion Highlights:

State Senator Ira Hansen and the preservation of the swamp cedars:

A bill before the Legislature aims to preserve and protect an area of swamp cedars near Great Basin National Park because Native Americans in the area believe the trees are scared and home to their ancestors’ spirits.

The area was the site of a massacre of indigenous people in the 1800s. During a hearing on the issue, Hansen questioned the need for the preservation of the trees.

“He actually questioned the legitimacy of the claim that there was a massacre and began to cite no real evidence to indicate that there were no cavalry units in the area after a prescribed time.”

“I think the reaction is because – one – incredibly poor timing. Secondly, highly disrespectful. Third, not the place, not the place and fourth, he turned around and still voted for it. So what purpose was there in even raising those issues?”

“It was just a jaw-dropping moment in the legislative session. Such insensitivity.”


Bill to abolish the death penalty in Nevada:

The bill was passed by the State Assembly but failed to make it through the State Senate.

“It was clear that the governor would have vetoed the bill if it had come to his desk. Vetoing a bill that had come from his Democratic majority in the State Assembly and State Senate is at the very least embarrassing and suggests they’re not coordinated and not communicating.”

Lokken noted that Nevada has not carried out an execution in years, and like several other states, Nevada is not able to get the drugs used to carry out a lethal injection.

More and more states are dropping the death penalty for moral reasons and because of the high cost of death penalty trials and appeals, which drag on for years.

Lokken conjectured that large law firms in the state that profit from death penalty cases worked to stop the ban from passing.


North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee and Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo running for governor:

“The reality of the Nevada election system is an individual for state office really only needs to carry Clark County.”

Lokken said Lee and Lombardo are not well known in Northern Nevada but that really doesn’t matter much because the population in Clark County really makes the decisions – even in statewide races.


2022 Race for Governor:

“We’re really kind of wondering what the 2022 race is going to look like both on the Democrat and Republican sides. I think given the times, experienced during the pandemic, we’re going to see a surprising number of candidates in both parties.”


Education funding:

“What we have seen, first under Brian Sandoval and now under Steve Sisolak, is by really sweating the details, not just throwing money at the problem, but really specific programs that we know have been tested in other states and that have been successful, we’ve actually moved the needle.”

Nevada ranks 48 th in the nation when it comes to education. Lokken said that is actually an improvement of where the state used to rank.

The question ahead is how to sustain that progress.

“Come 2023, I think there is going to be a spirited conversation about this service tax that would be the longer-term solution to provide the money that is going to be needed for our education.”


How progressive has the legislative session been?

“We have that two-thirds requirement to approve our budget and the Democrats have to work and play well with the few Republicans that are there to get to the two-thirds in the State Senate and the State Assembly. That reason alone makes much of the progressive agenda stall because that’s the bartering that’s been going on behind the scenes.”

Lokken said because the state needs a functioning budget Democrats and Republicans have to work together and that means bills that progressives want will die.

He said the 2022 election outcomes will determine how much of the progressive agenda returns to Carson City in 2023.

Fred Lokken, political science professor, Truckee Meadows Community College.

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.