From rejecting a controversial school board trustee to staunchly defending a rural county’s right to operate brothels, Nevada voters made a bevy of high-profile decisions in local and other statewide races.
As Nevadans largely backed Democrats in some of the state’s top races, down-ballot races largely followed suit. District Court Judge Elissa Cadish, favored by left-leaning groups and organized labor, surmounted a more conservative challenger and will join the state Supreme Court, while three Democratic candidates for the powerful seven-member Clark County Commission won comfortable victories over their Republican opponents.
Seven-some hours north, Reno Mayor HIllary Schieve, a registered nonpartisan, easily cruised to victory against challenger Eddie Lorton. But the council will see some change, as Councilman Paul McKenzie was toppled by former Washoe County Commissioner Bonnie Weber.
Here’s a look at some down-ballot races that garnered more attention than usual this election cycle:
Clark County School Board of Trustees
Two new faces and one familiar one will be joining the Clark County School Board of Trustees following the midterm elections.
Embattled Clark County School Trustee Kevin Child lost his re-election bid Tuesday. He was defeated by Irene Cepeda, who will succeed him as trustee for District D, which covers a meandering chunk of central and downtown Las Vegas. Cepeda had snagged 69 percent of the votes compared to Child’s 31 percent as of 11 p.m. Tuesday.
Cepeda, a Title V project coordinator at Nevada State College, captured more than double the amount of votes that Child did. Her victory means Child’s duration as a board member will end in January.
Child’s first term on the school board has been mired in controversy. The former superintendent banned him from visiting schools after a string of complaints about his behavior. Deputy Superintendent Kim Wooden also accused him of workplace harassment, leading to a settlement with the school district that involved her being allowed to work from home.
But Child, an outspoken member of the seven-person board, lashed back, accusing several other trustees of conspiring against him. He filed a lawsuit in September that named 11 defendants, including the school district, former Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky and four fellow board members — Deanna Wright, Carolyn Edwards, Lola Brooks and Linda Cavazos.
The lawsuit didn’t disrupt Cavazos’ re-election bid, though. Cavazos, who was appointed to the board last year, easily coasted to victory in District G, which includes parts of east Las Vegas and Henderson. Cavazos handily beat her opponent, Ryan Scalia, and captured nearly two-thirds of the votes.
The third school board race — in District F — went to Danielle Ford, who received roughly 60 percent of the votes. That race was wide open because incumbent Carolyn Edwards is termed out. Ford defeated Kali Fox Miller to represent a district that includes much of the southwest valley.
Ford is a product of the Clark County School District and a single parent who positioned herself as the candidate in touch with families’ education needs and desires.
Washoe County Commission
Three county commissioners faced challenges in 2018 and two easily retained their seats. By the end of Tuesday night, one commissioner, Jeanne Herman, remained locked in a tight race. When the final tabulations came in, Herman eked out a win.
Republican Bob Lucey, facing smart-growth advocate Stephen Wolgast, retained his seat by a 54 percent to 46 percent tally.The commission’s sole Democrat, Kitty Jung, scored a decisive win Tuesday night and defeated Republican challenger Bill Johnson to retain her seat by a roughly 36-point margin.
Herman, a Republican who represents Reno’s North Valleys and large stretches of Washoe County, remained in a tight race with Democratic challenger Lindsy Judd, most of the night but ultimately won capturing more than 3 percent of the vote.
Reno Mayor and City Council
Mayor Hillary Schieve won a decisive second term Tuesday night and defeated businessman Eddie Lorton. The two traded sharp barbs during a debate last month, with Schieve defending her time as mayor against attacks from Lorton that she had not done enough to address the city’s debt or homelessness.
Schieve, who won 63 percent of the vote in the primary, was the favored candidate. Lorton, a sharp critic of the current City Council, took about 18 percent of the vote in the first round.
The results on Election Night mirrored the primary results, with Lorton picking up a few supporters in the two-way race. Schieve took about 65 percent of the vote to Lorton’s 35 percent.
In this cycle, two Reno City Council seats were up for re-election. Councilwoman Naomi Duerr easily retained her seat, winning by a margin of more than 20 points. But her colleague Councilman Paul McKenzie lost to former Washoe County Chairwoman Bonnie Weber, who captured 57 percent of the vote to McKenzie’s roughly 43 percent.
Clark County Commission
Former Democratic state Sen. Justin Jones overcame a fundraising disadvantage to win a hotly contested County Commission race against Republican Tisha Black, who was widely considered the party’s best chance to add a Republican to the powerful local government.
Jones won nearly 54 percent of the vote, while Black took in around 46 percent of the vote to replace outgoing Commissioner Susan Brager, who endorsed political newcomer Black.
Other commission races were decided in overwhelming fashion — Democrat Tick Segerblom, who narrowly won a primary challenge from union organizer Marco Hernandez by fewer than 200 votes in June, easily defeated Republican Trish Marsh by a margin of 62 to 35 percent of the vote. The other commission seat was retained by incumbent Democrat Jim Gibson, appointed to the seat last year, who easily defeated Republican Cindy Lake on a 55 to 42 percent difference.
An advisory question seeking to ban legal brothels in Nevada fell with nearly four in five voters opposed to the measure.
Only a little more than 19 percent of Lyon County voters cast a ballot in favor of the non-binding advisory questions that asked voters if they would support reversing a portion of county code allowing for brothels to operate in the county.
Rural diesel tax measure
By a razor-thin 20 vote margin, voters in the city of Fernley approved an advisory question to advance legislation that would give the municipality authority to raise a five-cent diesel tax.
Rural counties, which did not approve fuel indexing in 2016, have sought to raise revenue for local roads through a slight increase in the diesel tax. After a failed effort in the 2017 session, Fernley decided to break ranks with other rural counties and pursue its own tax, an unusual move for a city.
The proposed legislation, which would give a city taxing authority, could put the city in conflict with Lyon County, where Fernley is located, and other rural counties that are making a second push in the 2019 legislature for the authority to enact a diesel tax.
Nevada Supreme Court
Nevada will have a female-majority state Supreme Court for the first time after District Court Judge Elissa Cadish defeated Court of Appeals Judge Jerome Tao for an open spot on the state’s Supreme Court.
Cadish, who substantially outraised Tao and was backed by a bevy of union and other Democratic-leaning groups, won around 45 percent of the vote, with Tao taking in 32 percent and none of these candidates garnering 22 percent.
Justice Lidia Stiglich, appointed to the bench in 2016, fended off a challenge from Clark County Family Court Judge Mathew Harter and won re-election to her first full six-year term on a 46 to 31 percent margin.
Appeals Court Justice Abbi Silver, who ran unopposed, will also join the state’s Supreme Court.
Washoe County Sheriff
When the ballots were tabulated Tuesday night, a closely-watched race for Washoe County sheriff turned out to be a tight win for former deputy chief Darin Balaam, the son of former sheriff Dennis Balaam. Balaam, who defeated retired captain Heidi Howe, received endorsements from the mayors of Reno and Sparks, state legislators and police unions.
Balaam won with 54 percent of the vote to Howe’s 46 percent.
Howe cast herself as an anti-establishment candidate who would make the department more inclusive and move the law enforcement agency away from a “warrior” mentality.
Flood Tax Measure
The electorate in Washoe County voted against a slight property tax increase for flood projects along the Truckee River. The Washoe County measure failed with about 69 percent of voters in opposition.
Although the Washoe County Commission voted to place the measure on the ballot in May, several lawmakers came out against the county-wide tax because none of the flood funding would go to other areas in the county, such as closed basins like Lemmon Valley. The tax increase would have come out to 2.48 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.
From the Editor