Las Vegas Sun

November 22, 2017

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Incumbents should like their chances in commission races

Chris Giunchigliani

Chris Giunchigliani

Susan Brager

Susan Brager

With three County Commission seats up for election in November, political insiders are putting money on the incumbents in two of the races. One is Democrat Chris Giunchigliani, who faces a virtual unknown, Republican Ben Boarman, in District E, which covers a big portion of downtown Las Vegas. The other is Democrat Susan Brager in District F, who is being challenged by Jeff Durbin, an Independent, and Republican Mitchell Tracy.

Why are insiders betting on Brager and Chris G?

Incumbents typically have the upper hand, simply because their names ring familiar with voters. Additionally, in Giunchigliani’s case, Boarman appears to have a candidacy in name only. It’s 2010 and everyone uses the Internet, yet Boarman has not even the slightest visibility online. We could find no website. Nothing. In Brager’s case, her opponent Durbin is an Independent whose lack of party affiliation will prevent him from winning many votes from loyal Republicans or Democrats. In Tracy’s case, he’s a practiced candidate but has yet to win. In 2000, he lost a congressional race to incumbent Jim Gibbons, our current governor. In 2002, he tried to unseat Brager as a School Board member but lost. He tried for School Board again in 2006 and lost to Carolyn Edwards.

What do Brager’s two challengers stand for?

On both of their websites, they ask the same question — are you better off now than you were a few years ago? Tracy calls himself a Tea Party supporter. He talks about taxes being raised and electric and gas rates increasing — and all while Brager was on the commission, even though the county has no direct say over electric and gas rates.

When President Barack Obama commented 18 months ago how people can’t “take a trip to Las Vegas ... on the taxpayers’ dime,” guess who Tracy says should have spoken up to offset the president’s remarks? Brager. And because she did not? “We lost 1,000s of jobs, millions and millions of dollars of revenue.”

Does Durbin sound the same?

Durbin also plays the blame card. He says Brager, who sells real estate, put “many a family in bankruptcy and foreclosure” by selling “vastly overpriced homes.”

Does he say Brager forced people to buy homes?

Uh, no. He goes on to say that her votes for developers have “ensured these people who destroy families stay in position to continue to destroy American families.” He calls Brager a “possible danger to others,” and says she is “noted for having a violent temper.” He doesn’t say what he bases that claim on. His stand on unions is that he will “personally” review labor contracts so he can “ensure compliance by both management and the workers ... there will be no union versus the county mentality in Clark County.”

Durbin attacks Tracy, too, saying he uses “rhetorical lies against opponents.” Again, he doesn’t say what he is referring to.

He would support businesses by promoting Clark County as “the newest market for retirees over the age of 55.” He wants to build more parks and increase the numbers of firefighters and police officers.

Both Tracy’s and Durbin’s websites are also in serious need of spell check or an editor. Tracy misspells “independent” as “independant” in bold letters at the top of his main page. He calls issues “issuses.” Durbin refers to independents as “indendents” and “indepence.”

This all sounds ... interesting. What’s Brager say?

Brager, who has faced constituent anger in her far-west district largely because of planned parks in Mountain’s Edge that the developer could not deliver, said the attacks demonstrate the character of her opponents.

“I respect people who run for office, but it would be exciting if there were people who truly care about serving and not just creating nasty campaigns and telling blatant untruths about their opponents,” she said.

Brager’s track record includes many years as an elected School Board member, but before that, she said, she was a volunteer in numerous community endeavors. She was PTA president, helped immigrants learn to read — she stresses they were “legal” immigrants — did coat drives for the homeless and many other things. “I never got involved because I wanted to run for office, I just wanted to help out,” she said.

Though the commission has the power to approve or block projects on the Las Vegas Strip, much of a commissioner’s work deals with stoplights, parks, roads and the very basics of residential living. Brager counts three new fire stations in her district, the new Red Ridge Park in Spring Valley and traffic signals among her most significant accomplishments. She has also spent much of the past year meeting with residents and developers, trying to get some work done on those Mountain’s Edge parks. An amended agreement reached in early August between the county and developer Focus Property Group calls for construction of a 20-acre park.

That’s still a far cry from the Shangri-La-like park plans that Mountain’s Edge homeowners bought into, isn’t it?

It is. And Brager admits, “I can’t make everyone happy. But I hope the public, as they have in the past, would know I do what’s best for the community.”

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