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Clark County Commission selects Chris Brooks, Dallas Harris for vacant Senate seats

Jackie Valley
Jackie Valley

Assemblyman Chris Brooks and Dallas Harris, an administrative attorney with the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada, will take new posts in the Legislature after the previous occupants won other offices in the November election.

Clark County commissioners picked the two from dozens of people who applied for the openings, including numerous lawyers, a floral designer and a social studies teacher. Brooks will replace Democratic Sen. Tick Segerblom, who will soon join the commission, and Harris will replace Democratic Sen. Aaron Ford, who will assume the post of attorney general.

Brooks, who has served in the Assembly since his election in 2016, noted that five generations of his family have lived in Senate District 3.  

“I would look very much forward to you giving me that opportunity,” Brooks said at the commission meeting.

Harris, a newcomer to Nevada’s political scene, is also native to Las Vegas. She attended UNLV and later went to law school in Washington, D.C., where she worked for several years as a lobbyist before moving back home. She now works on energy regulatory issues for the PUC.

“Once this seat opened up, I felt this was the best opportunity for me to give back to the community that has given so much to me,” she said.

The commission also selected Gregory Hafen, who is the general manager of the Pahrump Utility Company Inc., as its choice for the vacant Assembly seat in District 36. Republican brothel owner Dennis Hof won that seat in November despite his death weeks before the election.

The appointment process isn’t over for the Assembly District 36 seat, though. Because that district straddles several counties, commissioners will be collaborating with their counterparts in Nye and Lincoln counties on Friday to select an appointee. (Each commission brings its own recommendation to that joint meeting.)

There are more appointments on the horizon, as well. Clark County needs to solicit applications and appoint a replacement for Assemblywoman Olivia Diaz, who resigned Monday and plans to run for Las Vegas City Council. Diaz, a Democrat, represents Assembly District 11, which includes portions of Las Vegas and North Las Vegas.

And the selection of Brooks means his Assembly seat will be up for grabs, too. He represents Assembly District 10, which is centrally located in Clark County.

The seats need to be filled before the 2019 Nevada Legislature begins its 120-day session on Feb. 4. Replacements for the two Senate seats will serve out the remaining two years of the terms before going up for election again in 2020.

Replacements appointed to the open seats must reside in the district and be of the same political party as the former legislator. Commissioners acknowledged they took caucus recommendations into consideration when making their selections. But they also commended the pool of applicants and urged them to remain active in the community.

“I just want to thank you people and particularly those who are not selected,” Commissioner Jim Gibson said. “I encourage you to stay engaged in some way. Find a way to bring your voice forward because you have so much to offer, and I mean that seriously.”

Ten people applied for Ford’s former Senate seat in District 11, which covers portions of central and southwest Las Vegas. Among those vying for that seat: Clark County School Trustee Kevin Child, who lost his re-election bid in November after a contentious first term on the board, and Reuben D’Silva, a social studies teacher at Rancho High School who ran against Rep. Dina Titus in the primary election.

The Senate seat in District 3, which includes a chunk of the northwest valley and older neighborhoods near University Medical Center, attracted nine applicants.

Close to two dozen people filed to replace Hof, who died in October but was required to stay on the ballot under state law. Applicants for the rural Nevada district centered in Pahrump include Joseph Burdzinski, the chairman of the Nye County Republican Party who is endorsed by Nevada Republican Party chairman Michael McDonald; former Republican gubernatorial candidate Jared Fisher; and Joseph Bradley, a medical doctor who ran against Hof and incumbent Assemblyman James Oscarson in the 2018 Republican primary for the Assembly seat.

Although he expressed interest in running for the seat, Oscarson did not submit an application for the position. Filling the seat will technically be decided by all three county commissions that the district encompassess, but voting power for each county is based on relative population meaning that the Nye County Commission will effectively decide the replacement.

Below is a list of applicants for three of the four open seats (applications have not yet been sought for Diaz’s Assembly seat):

Senate District 11: 10 applicants

  • Lizbeth Arias, an advisor in the UNLV Office of International Programs
  • Julie Bernell-Ostrovsky, part-time real-estate agent and deputy executive director of the Nevada Justice Association
  • Kevin Child, a real-estate agent and Clark County School Trustee who lost a re-election bid in November
  • Rose Donahue, producer and account executive for Quantum Arc Media
  • Reuben D’Silva, social studies teacher at Rancho High School
  • Christopher Hardin, manages SFR Investments
  • Dallas Harris, administrative attorney with the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada
  • Arlene Heshmati, attorney in the Clark County Public Defender’s Office
  • Cameron Miller, entertainment consultant and executive producer
  • Duy Nguyen, vice president and chief operating officer for the Asian Community Development Council

Senate District 3: 9 applicants

  • Alison Brasier, an attorney at the law firm of Hicks & Brasier
  • Nancy Ramirez Ayala, an attorney and franchise owner of Blo Blow Dry Bar
  • Chris Brooks, a Nevada state Assemblyman and renewable energy consultant
  • Larissa Drohobyczer, an attorney with Stovall & Associates and Wealth Management Law Group
  • Dean Richard Lauer, Jr., a law enforcement strategist and former Deputy Chief with the Las Vegas township Constable’s office
  • Karen Layne, a police planner and assistant professor at UNLV
  • Jennifer Munoz, an executive with First American Title Insurance Company
  • Zenda “Zee” Marie Shepard, an executive casino host
  • Lindsay Warner, owner of a safety pet product business and former intern for the Israeli Parliament

Assembly District 36: 19 applicants

  • Joseph Burdzinski, chairman of the Nye County Republican Party
  • Brigitte Dubin, a member of the Nye County Raw Milk Commission and retiree
  • Thomas Duryea, a retired Department of Defense employee
  • Jared Fisher, a bike-shop owner who ran for Nevada governor in 2018
  • William Gray
  • Gregory Hafen, Chairman of the Pahrump Regional Planning Commission and member of other community organizations
  • Jonathan Hernandez, a former Emergency Medical Technician and volunteer caregiver
  • Adam Huckeby, a Great Basin College student and member of the school’s Student Government Association
  • Tina Bond-Kuglin, an office manager and safety coordinator with Frehner Masonry
  • Joseph Bradley, a medical doctor who lost in the 2018 Republican primary for the same Assembly seat
  • Charles Navarro, a nonprofit employee and former district director for Congressman Cresent Hardy
  • Nathan Taylor, a Republican Party volunteer and business consultant
  • Sandra Faye Tulley, a real estate salesperson with Access Realty
  • Wayne Villines, a youth worker in Amargosa Valley
  • Walter Grudzinski, a Great Basin College instructor and retired defense department trainer
  • Bailey Kesl, a floral designer and research assistant at the College of Southern Nevada
  • Brent Leavitt, a financial planner and former Nevada Assembly candidate
  • Denise Mraz, who doesn’t list an occupation
  • Patrick Nary, retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army

This story was updated at 5:39 p.m. to include more information. 

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