Assemblywoman Flores: A Las Vegas Latina to watch

Keep your eye on Assemblywoman Lucy Flores.

Last week the Las Vegas Democrat was named one of five Latinas to watch nationwide in 2014 by a group called LatinasRepresent, a new Denver-based organization that promotes Hispanic women in political office.

Flores appears close to announcing whether she’ll run for Nevada lieutenant governor. At a recent Emily’s List forum, she said there might be news on that front in a few weeks. (She’s been lying low while two Republicans — former state Sen. Sue Lowden and state Sen. Mark Hutchison — fight it out to win the GOP nomination.)

Flores, 34, became one of the first Hispanic women in the Nevada Assembly when she won election in 2010. She was re-elected in 2012 with no opposition in Assembly District 28.

If she wins the lieutenant governor’s post she would be the first Latina to hold that state office — and she would be one of the few female Hispanics holding statewide office nationwide, according to a new report from LatinasRepresent.

According to the report — — few Latinas have been elected to public office despite growth in the Hispanic population. Nevada is nearly 30 percent Latino.

The report said:

■ Nine of 435 seats in Congress are held by Latinas (2 percent).

■ 78 out of 7,383 state senators and representatives are Latina (1.1 percent).

■ Five out of 320 statewide executives across the country are Latina (1.5 percent).

■ Only one Latina has been elected governor. (Gov. Susana Martinez, R-N.M., who topped the Latinas to watch list.)

■ And no Latina has been elected to the U.S. Senate.

“LatinasRepresent wants to boost the numbers so that they are more in line with the demographic representation of Latinas, who number 25 million, or about 8 percent of the country’s population,” the group said.

— Laura Myers


Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman was both fiscally conservative and fiscally liberal at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. She objected to creating a board to hear work card appeals, saying she didn’t want to create a new level of bureaucracy and citing cost. It’s back to the drawing board for that idea.

But when it comes to directing the city staff about researching medical marijuana dispensaries, cost was no object.

The mayor voted in favor of more research about medical marijuana, but is not comfortable with the idea of operating 10 dispensaries in the city.

When Business License Director Karen Duddleston sought guidance about what kind of information the council wanted, Goodman told her to “look across the world. Look to the Netherlands, where it is legal, and learn from their mistakes.”

Goodman suggested sending a city staffer to the Netherlands to investigate.

The Netherlands legalized the use of medical marijuana in pharmacies in 2003. The pot sold in coffeehouses is illegal, but the law is not enforced.

The Office of Medicinal Cannabis in the Netherlands is responsible for producing and providing cannabis to pharmacies, doctors, hospitals and oddly, veterinarians.

Nevada hasn’t embraced pot for pets in its new law.

— Jane Ann Morrison


Be ready for higher requests for education funds. The state’s school population has begun to grow again.

Joyce Haldeman, associate superintendent for the Clark County School District, told the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee on Thursday that the school population there grew by 3,000 students over the summer and jumped another 1,200 to 1,500 students during the fall. She said the district had expected the student population to grow by about 1,000 over the summer.

“We don’t know if it is a blip or another surge in growth,” said Haldeman, noting that in its growth heyday Clark County added 10,000 students each year.

Washoe County is up about 1 percent in student enrollment this school year, following three years of a static student population.

During the last full school year, there were 445,381 students enrolled in Nevada public schools, of which 40 percent were Hispanic and 37 percent white. Clark County had 331,029 students, of which 44 percent were Hispanic and 29 percent white. Washoe County had 62,423 students, of which 47 percent were white and 38 percent Hispanic.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dale Erquiaga said in September that enrollment this current school year was up 3 percent, the largest gain since 2006.

— Ed Vogel


Former Nevada Consumer Advocate Jon Wellinghoff charged in a New York Times story on Thursday that damages at a power station near San Jose, Calif., in April resulted from a terrorist attack designed to interrupt the power grid.

“I believe this was, in essence, terrorism,” said Wellinghoff, adding that the attack was carried out by “a group of individuals who were intent upon disrupting parts of the grid.”

The FBI has said there is no indication the attack was terrorism, and no one has been arrested.

One or more people cut communication cables near a Pacific Gas &Electric substation and then knocked out 17 of the station’s transformers by firing 100 rifle shots. Power was diverted from elsewhere, and it took 27 days to repair the damage.

At the time Wellinghoff was chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. He brought in a team of investigators who said the attack was well-organized and professional. Wellinghoff said it might have been a trial run before a larger attack on the power grid.

Now a lawyer in San Francisco, Wellinghoff was Nevada’s first consumer advocate, representing the public in utility cases. He later was the chief counsel for the state Public Service Commission, now the Public Utilities Commission.

— Ed Vogel


Jeff Hinton, Nevada’s teacher of the year, announced Feb. 3 that he will run as a Democratic candidate for Assembly District 4 in Clark County. He is seeking the seat now held by Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, R-Las Vegas.

Democrats hold a 500-vote registration edge in the district and a 27-15 margin over Republicans in the Assembly. By picking up one seat in the November election, they would gain a veto-proof two-thirds majority. That means the seat is sought eagerly by both parties.

“I am running because we need to do everything we can to put the resources to work at improving education in our state. Assembly District 4 needs an Assembly member that puts practicality and common-sense solutions over radical agendas. I feel I am the person that can best do that.”

Fiore on her website noted that she received the highest ranking of any Assembly member in 2013 in a study of voting by the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a conservative think tank based in Las Vegas. She also has sent out email inviting her constituents to come to her home for a pasta dinner if they want to talk about any disagreements they have with her.

The teacher of the year award was named after Michael Landsberry, a math teacher at Sparks Middle School who was killed in October by a 12-year-old student who brought a gun to school. The student, Jose Reyes, then killed himself.

— Ed Vogel


Fred Conquest, a College of Southern Nevada anthropology professor, said Friday he will run for governor as a Democrat, not as an independent as he previously announced. Thursday was the deadline for candidates to turn in petitions to run as nonpartisans or independents.

Conquest said he did not have time to collect the required 250 signatures and that the process of requiring independents to collect signatures was designed by the major parties to keep people like him off the ballot.

He added he ran for governor as a Democrat in the 2010 primary and collected more than 15,000 votes and shouldn’t be required to collect signatures. Two men, David Goossen and Steve St. John, did turn in signatures to run as independents for the 3rd Congressional District seat.

Those signatures now must be verified.

Like other candidates, the two men will be required to formally file for the office March 3-14. If signatures are required for independent candidates, then Conquest said they should be allowed to submit them when they file for office, not Feb. 6.

— Ed Vogel

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at or 775-687-3901. Follow him on Twitter @edison vogel. Contact reporter Jane Ann Morrison at or 702-383-0275. Contact reporter Laura Myers at or 702 397-2919. Follow her on Twitter @lmyerslvrj.