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Democratic Sen. Marcia Washington listens to a Senate floor session on Monday, March 18, 2019. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Two lawmakers who were appointed to fill unexpected vacancies during the 2019 session say they will not run for the seats in 2020.

Democratic Sen. Marcia Washington, whom county commissioners appointed in March to serve the remainder of former Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson’s term after he resigned, says she will not run for re-election.

Washington said at the time of her appointment and in an email to The Nevada Independent on Tuesday that she did not intend to keep the seat. Atkinson’s term would have ended in 2020.

Democratic Assemblyman Greg Smith also will not seek re-election, saying “life is short” and he did not want to have to spend every other year campaigning. Smith was appointed by the Washoe County Commission in March after former Assemblyman Mike Sprinkle resigned amid sexual harassment allegations.

Smith was married to former state lawmaker Debbie Smith, who passed away in 2016 after fighting brain cancer. He was appointed from a field of 15 Democratic contenders to represent Assembly District 30, which includes the Sparks area.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats have endorsed Assemblywoman Dina Neal to take Washington’s seat after Neal’s Assembly term ends next year. Neal has expressed her intent to represent the heavily Democratic Senate District 4 ever since she applied for the post in March, when Atkinson resigned and announced he would plead guilty to a federal charge of misusing campaign funds.

“As a lifelong resident of Senate District 4, I fully intend to represent the people and the historic neighborhoods where I grew up,” Neal said in the press release from Nevada Senate Democratic Caucus announcing her bid and the endorsement.

In the March appointment vote, Neal received support from Chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick and Commissioner Lawrence Weekly, but Commissioners Larry Brown, Justin Jones, Michael Naft and Tick Segerblom voted in opposition. The board voted unanimously to appoint Washington instead.

If Neal’s campaign for Senate District 4 is successful, she will preside over an area very similar to her current Assembly District 7, but with expansion southward including the Corridor of Hope.

The Corridor of Hope is an area with a high concentration of people experiencing homelessness and organizations that providing emergency shelters, food and other medical, housing and support systems.

Homelessness activists reprimanded Neal in the last legislative session for gutting a bill, AB73, that would have authorized municipalities to place place new taxes that would create dedicated streams of revenue for cities to expand homelessness services. In April, Neal added an amendment to the bill, which passed, that eliminated the tax provisions and called for more input from county commissioners.

If Neal wins the seat, she would follow in the footsteps of her father, former Sen. Joe Neal, who represented Senate District 4 from 1973 to 2001.

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