Las Vegas Sun

October 17, 2019

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Special session on Las Vegas stadium hastens need to fill legislative vacancies

NLF Stadium Rendings

Courtesy of MANICA Architechture

An artist’s illustration of a stadium on Russell Road and Las Vegas Boulevard was revealed during a Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee meeting at UNLV Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016.

Gov. Brian Sandoval intends to convene a special legislative session in October to consider tourism-related improvements, including the construction of an estimated $1.9 billion stadium.

The governor’s declaration Wednesday evening immediately followed Clark County’s call for applications to fill two Nevada State Assembly vacancies — a move designed to ensure a full Legislature for the special session.

In a one-page statement, Sandoval said he plans to call a special legislative session “as soon as can be practicably accomplished.” An exact start date hasn’t been determined, but the governor said he foresees the special session beginning no earlier than Oct. 7 and no later than Oct. 13, pending conversations with legislative leadership.

The group charged with vetting tourism-related projects forwarded its recommendations to the governor Friday, and he has been reviewing them since then. One recommendation calls for a $750 million public contribution to build a 65,000-seat stadium that could bring the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas and house the UNLV football team as well.

The stadium developers, among them casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, have pushed for a special legislative session as soon as possible. Their rationale: The Raiders need time to craft their relocation pitch to the NFL in January. Sandoval said he met this week with the Raiders’ owner, Mark Davis, who reiterated his commitment to move the professional football team to Las Vegas.

Sandoval said he is “comfortable” with the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee’s recommendations.

“I am convinced that, given the circumstances and timing with regard to public safety, the Convention Center, and the NFL, there is an opportunity to significantly improve the tourism infrastructure of Southern Nevada — already the best in the world,” he said in the statement.

Both the Clark and Washoe county commissions are accepting applications to fill the five vacant legislative seats across the state.

The vacant seats in Southern Nevada are in Assembly District 1 and Assembly District 5. Anyone interested in serving out the remainder of those terms has until 5 p.m. Monday to apply. The Clark County Commission will meet four days later, at 8 a.m. Sept. 30, to make a final decision during a public meeting.

Sandoval appointed Marilyn Kirkpatrick to the Clark County Commission in August 2015, creating the vacancy in Assembly District 1, which lies in the northwest valley. In February, Erv Nelson vacated his seat in Assembly District 5, located in the western valley, and moved to pursue a state senate seat. (He ultimately lost in the primary.)

People interested in filling the vacant seats must reside in the district they are seeking and be a registered member of the same political party as the previous legislator. Kirkpatrick is a Democrat; Nelson is a Republican.

“It’s important that everyone in the district know that there is an opening,” Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak said Wednesday afternoon. “While it’s not as much time as we would like, it’s as much time as we could realistically fill in there.”

Those appointed to the vacant legislative session would serve until Nov. 8, when voters elect new members in those districts.

At a regular board meeting Tuesday, Commissioners Susan Brager and Kirkpatrick indicated they had lists of prospective candidates for those two Assembly districts, which fall within the boundaries of their commission districts. All candidates must formally apply, Sisolak said.

One name that’s surfaced as a potential candidate is Kyle Stephens, who has lived in Assembly District 5 for 25 years. Stephens said he was approached by Republican Assembly leadership about filing Nelson’s vacant seat for the likely special session, calling it an “honor” to serve.

“It would be a great opportunity to serve and serve quickly,” Stephens said. “These are good people. I know a lot of Assembly people and this is a great process.”

Stephens said that he’s been quietly involved in politics over the years, assisting with campaigns, but has never aspired to hold office. “I’m more of a guy that appreciates the process, but I’ve never been involved directly on the firing line,” he said.

Asked about his opinion on the stadium deal as he knows it today, Stephens said he has “no opinion.”

“That’s something that needs to be studied and looked after and researched,” he said. “My intention is to work hard if appointed. We’re putting the cart before the horse.”

If you’re interested in applying, check maps for Assembly District 1 and Assembly District 5 to confirm that you live within the correct boundaries.

Applications are available online. The completed forms can be submitted via email to Sabra Smith Newby, the county’s chief administrative officer, at [email protected] or in person to the Administrative Services Department, located on the sixth floor of the county government center. The address is 500 S. Grand Central Parkway in Las Vegas.

After the application period closes, county staff will review the applications to verify that candidates meet the qualifications. A list of qualified candidates then will be forwarded to commissioners, and the names will be posted in an agenda ahead of the Sept. 30 meeting.

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