Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2008 | 2:07 a.m.
Owing to the recession, a state budget shortfall in excess of $1 billion will be facing the Nevada Legislature when it begins its 2009 session Feb. 2. Leadership from the governor’s office has been lacking, which means the Legislature’s decisions will take on added importance. Because of this, it is critical that Nevadans elect forward-thinking candidates with the right judgment to get the state through these difficult times.
There are 29 races for Assembly seats representing Clark County — all of them contested. We believe the following candidates for those seats will best represent the short- and long-term interests of the state:
• District 1: Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, a Democrat first elected in 2004, has been energetic in her district and has been a solid leader as chairwoman of the Government Affairs Committee. The Sun endorses Marilyn Kirkpatrick.
• District 2: Democrat Carlos Blumberg, a lawyer, challenged incumbent Garn Mabey two years ago. Now the seat is open. We appreciate Blumberg’s return candidacy, as he has many fresh ideas. His Republican opponent, John Hambrick, is a qualified candidate, but we give the edge to Blumberg. The Sun endorses Carlos Blumberg.
• District 3: Assemblywoman Peggy Pierce has been a strong advocate for education since being elected in 2002. For example, the Democrat supported the legislative effort to expand full-day kindergarten. The Sun endorses Peggy Pierce.
• District 4: This seat, formerly held by Francis Allen, would best be filled by Democrat Craig Ballew. He is retired after a 36-year teaching career. He advocates expanding vocational education as a way of reducing the dropout rate. The Sun endorses Craig Ballew.
• District 5: This seat became open when Valerie Weber decided to run for the Clark County Commission. Our interviews with Democratic candidate Marilyn Dondero Loop and Republican candidate Donna Toussaint revealed both to be well-qualified. In a close call, the Sun endorses Marilyn Dondero Loop.
• District 6: Harvey Munford, the Democratic incumbent and a retired schoolteacher, has served his district well since first being elected in 2004. The Sun endorses Harvey Munford.
• District 7: Voters have been returning Morse Arberry to this seat since 1984 — with good reason. Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, the Democrat is a leader whose experience serves the state well. The Sun endorses Morse Arberry.
• District 8: Incumbent Barbara Buckley is the clear choice. A seven-term Democratic assemblywoman and the first female speaker of the Assembly, Buckley has an impressive record. She is respected on both sides of the aisle for her knowledge, her leadership and her rapport with constituents. The Sun endorses Barbara Buckley.
• District 9: Another clear choice is Democrat “Tick” Segerblom, whose involvement in public service dates to the 1970s. Elected to the Assembly in 2006, he has a strong command of the issues. The Sun endorses “Tick” Segerblom.
• District 10: The Democratic incumbent, Joe Hogan, has earned good grades in his previous two terms. We like his support for developing Nevada’s renewable energy potential. The Sun endorses Joe Hogan.
• District 11: Elected in 2006 after gaining recognition through his volunteerism and public service, Ruben Kihuen has a promising future in the Democratic Party. An academic adviser at the College of Southern Nevada, Kihuen is blessed with an abundance of energy. The Sun endorses Ruben Kihuen.
• District 12: As a freshman in the 2007 Legislature, Democrat James Ohrenschall could be counted on for proposing thoughtful solutions. He is confident the 2009 Legislature can find creative ways to address budget shortfalls. The Sun endorses James Ohrenschall.
• District 13: Democrat Andrew Martin, challenging Republican incumbent Chad Christensen, is the superior candidate. As a certified public accountant, he has good ideas on how the state could more efficiently fund critical services. The Sun endorses Andrew Martin.
•District 14: First elected in 1996, Democrat Ellen Koivisto heads an important committee — Elections, Procedures and Ethics. She has earned another term. The Sun endorses Ellen Koivisto.
•District 15: Ten-year Democratic incumbent Kathy McClain says it is crucial that the state find solutions to the boom and bust cycles in its budget. She’s right. The Sun endorses Kathy McClain.
•District 16: Democrat John Oceguera, the majority floor leader and a North Las Vegas firefighter, has been an accomplished legislator since he was first elected in 2000. The Sun endorses John Oceguera.
District 17: Kelvin Atkinson, first elected in 2002, heads the Transportation Committee. The Democrat’s experience will be important as the state continues to wrestle with a multibillion-dollar shortfall in its long-term transportation budget. The Sun endorses Kelvin Atkinson.
District 18: In Democrat Mark Manendo’s 14 years in the Assembly, he has been a consistent advocate for improvement in such services as education, health care and consumer protection. The Sun endorses Mark Manendo.
• District 19: A 10-year assemblyman, Jerry Claborn heads the Natural Resources, Agriculture and Mining Committee. The Democrat is devoted to improving Nevada’s services and has a good relationship with seniors. The Sun endorses Jerry Claborn.
District 20: Republican incumbent Joe Hardy, a family doctor and a former councilman in Boulder City, is best for this seat. His three terms in the Assembly and the experience he gained on the local level have prepared him for the difficult legislative session ahead. The Sun endorses Joe Hardy.
District 21: This is an open seat that has drawn an exceptionally qualified candidate — Democrat Ellen Spiegel. She is a business consultant who understands the role of government and the challenges ahead. The Sun endorses Ellen Spiegel.
District 22: Republican incumbent Lynn Stewart demonstrated in the 2007 legislative session — his first — the value of his 34 years of experience as a Boulder City High School history and government teacher. The Sun endorses Lynn Stewart.
District 23: This seat opened up when RoseMary Womack decided not to run for reelection. Republican Melissa Woodbury, a special education teacher, is a thoughtful candidate who says state education dollars could be spent more efficiently. Democrat Allison Herr, who practices family law, is our choice, however. She has good suggestions for dealing with critical issues, including how to provide better health coverage for employees of small businesses. The Sun endorses Allison Herr.
District 28: Two-term Democratic incumbent Mo Denis correctly states that more emphasis needs to be placed on attracting new businesses to Nevada, including those in the renewable energy field. The Sun endorses Mo Denis.
District 29: Democrat April Mastroluca has demonstrated a passion for public service that is extraordinary for a first-time candidate. For example, she worked on Nevada’s “safe haven” law that protects infants unwanted by their parents. Her Republican opponent, Sean Fellows, is a serious candidate whose open mind and command of the issues is impressive. But Mastroluca’s community accomplishments give her the edge. The Sun endorses April Mastroluca.
District 34: William Horne, first elected in 2002, is among the Democratic leadership, serving as assistant majority whip. He is accomplished in forging agreements on important legislation. The Sun endorses William Horne.
District 37: Assistant Majority Floor Leader Marcus Conklin has contributed to much of the Assembly’s key legislation since first being elected in 2002. The Democrat has earned a return trip to Carson City. The Sun endorses Marcus Conklin.
District 41: This seat became open when David Parks decided to run for the Nevada Senate. Our choice is Democrat Paul Aizley, who will be retiring soon from his job as a math professor at UNLV. He knows the issues and has good ideas. The Sun endorses Paul Aizley.
District 42: Democratic incumbent Harry Mortenson is a fighter for improved state services. And as a nuclear physicist, he has particular expertise in defending the state’s opposition to Yucca Mountain. The Sun endorses Harry Mortenson.