Las Vegas Sun

July 20, 2019

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Recorder pick rife with repercussions

Clark County commissioners will pick a new county recorder Sept. 19, raising questions about how they will handle the rare chance to appoint an otherwise elected official.

A judge ousted Recorder Fran Deane on Tuesday after reviewing evidence that police say proves she took bribes in exchange for public records.

The commission's opportunity to appoint a replacement is rife with political repercussions because the office is up for election in November. If commissioners were to appoint any candidate running for the position, that person is likely to gain an upper hand as an incumbent.

But commissioners said Tuesday they don't plan to appoint any of the candidates, even though several commissioners - including Yvonne Atkinson Gates - have voiced support for Democratic candidate Debbie Conway.

County officials said Tuesday that two people are being considered for the position.

Immediately after a District Court judge's decision to boot Deane, Clark County Manager Virginia Valentine appointed Assistant Recorder Charles Harvey, who has been running the office since Deane took a leave of absence in May, to serve as interim director.

"Despite Ms. Deane's extended absence in recent months, the recorder's office continues to fulfill its important duty to the public under the leadership of Charles Harvey," Valentine said. "Both my goal and the goal of the County Commission is to ensure the continuity of the agency's operations until the voters' choice of a new recorder takes office in January."

Commissioners might make Harvey, who lost a bid for the position during last month's Republican primary, the permanent replacement at their meeting in two weeks. If they do, he would serve until January, when the winner of the November general election would begin a four-year term.

Another option under consideration is the appointment of County Clerk Shirley Parraguirre. That move would essentially accomplish - although only temporarily - what the county tried to do through the Legislature in 2003, when it proposed combining the elective offices of recorder and clerk.

Parraguirre could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

While Deane was losing her office, her party's candidate, Republican Jim Edwards, announced Tuesday that, if elected, he would reach across the political aisle and appoint Democrat Bob Spencer as his second-in-charge.

Spencer finished second in the Democratic primary behind Conway, who is Clark County's business development manager.

"It's not just an attempt to get more votes," Edwards said. "Instead, what we are going to do is put the best people in there to do the job."

Edwards, who beat Harvey in the Republican primary despite being outspent 30 times over, is likely to face an uphill financial battle against Conway .

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