Las Vegas Sun

December 14, 2017

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3 file for Ruben Kihuen’s vacant state Senate seat

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L.E. Baskow

Newly elected congressman Ruben Kihuen greets supporters as the Nevada State Democratic Party hosts its 2016 election night watch party with Hillary for Nevada, Catherine Cortez Masto for Senate, and down-ballot Democratic candidates in Southern Nevada at ARIA Resort and Casino on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016.

Three candidates have filed applications with Clark County in the hopes of replacing Democrat Ruben Kihuen in the state Senate.

Former Culinary Union political director Yvanna Cancela, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs project manager Melissa Clary, and Justin Campese, who works as a director of marketing and technological services at a law firm, are vying to fill Kihuen’s District 10 seat.

Kihuen vacated the post after being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month. He will replace Republican Rep. Cresent Hardy representing Nevada’s 4th Congressional District when he is sworn in early next year.

The Clark County Commission is expected to vote on Kihuen’s replacement at its Tuesday meeting. Whomever the commission selects will serve out the remainder of Kihuen’s term until voters select a new representative in November 2018.

Applicants to the post had to be a registered Democrat, like Kihuen, and live within the District 10 boundary, which stretches from the Strip to where Boulder Highway crosses U.S. 95. The window to apply for the seat closed at noon today.

Cancela, the candidate most well-known in political circles, previously ran political operations for the Culinary Union, including lobbying for union interests during previous legislative sessions. The union represents 57,000 hotel workers on the Las Vegas Strip and across Nevada.

Cancela resigned her union post earlier this month and now is working as the executive director of the Citizenship Project, a local nonprofit that helps legal residents go through the naturalization process.

“My life experiences and commitment to fighting of the dignity and respect of all people will find effective expression in Carson City,” Cancela wrote in a letter to the county commission. I want to make lives better, and I want to do it in collaboration with everyone: labor, members of both parties, small businesses, across government municipalities, and with the Governor.”

Clary currently manages information technology project portfolios for a number VA medical centers across the country and has been the president of the Huntridge Neighborhood Association since 2010.

“I have been successful in rallying neighbors to attend public meetings, speak up and get involved in community,” Clary wrote to the commission. “I have empowered neighbors by providing access to important government resources and information to further assist in bringing transparency and understanding to public processes affecting daily life.”

Clary also explained how she has seen the difficulties veterans face in accessing healthcare, employment and housing both in District 10 and across Southern Nevada. She also detailed how she hopes to help low-income families, strengthen Nevada’s higher education system, and address homelessness.

In his application, Campese said that he hopes to focus on Nevada’s education system, supporting small businesses, “new technology,” and raising the minimum wage if appointed to the state senate.

“I notice many things in the community that need to be changed, and I believe with the data from the recent election it is evident people want change,” Campese wrote.

He added that he plans to run for the District 10 seat in 2018.

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