Only three of the 19 candidates to fill the spot of the late Dennis Hof in the Nevada State Assembly District 36 spoke at the county commission meeting this week in Pioche.
Hof’s death occurred on Oct. 16, but he was posthumously elected Nov. 6 over his Democrat opponent, Lesia Romanov, by a 68.3 to 31.7 percent margin.
Applicants for the vacant seat were asked to submit applications to each of the boards in Clark, Nye, and Lincoln County, which comprise District 36, the largest population base being in Nye County.
Representatives from the commission boards will briefly hear from each of the candidates in Tonopah at 10 a.m., Dec. 7, in a public meeting at the Nye County Commision chambers. Each candidate will be allotted three minutes.
The candidates who attended the Lincoln County meeting were Gregory Hafen II and Joseph Burdzinski, both of Pahrump, and Denice Mraz of Mountain Springs. Each gave a short presentation as to their qualifications and desire for the position.
After hearing all three and asking specific questions of each, commissioners selected Hafen as the candidate they will support at the joint meeting of the boards of the three counties. Hafen is general manager of the Pahrump Utility Company.
Commission representatives, enough to comprise a quorum, are asked to attend the joint meeting, but do not have to be present in person if they are not able. Some will, and some will watch via a teleconference hookup.
Lincoln County commissioners Varlin Higbee and Jared Brackenbury said they would attend in person, but chairman Paul Donohue will attend via the teleconference.
As the chair, Donohue will issue Lincoln County’s three votes for Hafen as their candidate. Clark County has 30 votes and Nye County has 67 votes for their respective candidates.
Lincoln County District Attorney Dylan Frehner explained the large number of votes held by Nye and Clark County does not mean their candidate will be the person selected to the assembly just by popular vote.
He explained if a candidate does not receive a plurality on the first ballot, then commissioners will select a candidate (likely their same one) and the appointee to the assembly seat will be chosen by drawing lots.
Just last week, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that former assemblyman and Nye County resident Ed Goedhart is striving to stop Nye County and the joint meeting in its tracks. Goedhart sought an injunction with the Fifth Judicial District Court on Nov. 27 to request the selection be delayed until the newly elected Nye County commissioners are seated in 2019.
If Goedhart prevails in his attempt to legally tie the current Nye County commission’s hands, the District 36 appointment could be put off until after the start of the new year when commissioners-elect Leo Blundo of Nye County District 4 and Debra Strickland of Nye County District 5 will replace outgoing commissioners Butch Borasky and Dan Schinhofen.
The Review-Journal report noted the Nevada legislative session will commence February 4, 2019. Accordingly, in order to ensure that the interests of the plaintiff and other registered voters of District 4 are properly represented, the meeting to determine who will ultimately be appointed to represent District 36 in the 2019 legislative session, pursuant to NRS 218a.260, must be conducted with the newly elected commissioners during the regular board meeting on Jan. 7, 2019.
However, Paul Donohue commented that he believes the meeting will not be delayed and will occur as originally planned.