Las Vegas Township Constable John Bonaventura is running for a seat on the same Clark County Commission that voted to abolish his office last year.
Bonaventura on Friday filed for the District G seat held by Commissioner Mary Beth Scow, who called it a possible “revenge filing.” Both are Democrats.
In another twist, the Nevada Supreme Court on Friday rejected Bonaventura’s attempt to file by the Friday deadline and be on the ballot in the election as a candidate for the constable’s office. The court sent the case down to Clark County District Court. The court order said that if he prevails in the lower court, officials could possibly amend the ballot or have a special election.
County officials wouldn’t let him file to run for the constable’s office because commissioners abolished the office last year. The office ceases to exist when his term ends in January 2015.
“They’re going to take our jobs,” Bonaventura said in an interview with the Review-Journal after the filing period closed. “We’re going to try to take their jobs and see how they like it.”
Asked about the filing, Scow said: “We’ll work hard to get our message out. I kind of feel like this might be a revenge filing.”
Both candidates have different backgrounds and are known for different things. Bonaventura served one term in the state Assembly from 1993 to 1995 before making headlines as constable for various high-profile incidents, including foul-mouthed deputies on a reality television pilot posted online, allegations of sexual harassment and jurisdictional disputes with neighboring constables.
Scow, who is running for a second term, also has served on the Clark County School Board.
Commissioners voted unanimously to abolish Bonaventura’s office following the publicity. Bonaventura was elected to his first term as constable in 2010.
“She voted to abolish the constable’s office,” Bonaventura said. “If she would not have voted to abolish the constable’s office, I might not have run against her.”
Scow said she did the right thing with her colleagues, saying they needed to protect the community from the misdeeds of the office.
“I felt we needed to hold the office accountable,” Scow said.
In court, Bonaventura had argued that the county acted prematurely by not letting him file for constable, saying the county ordinance abolishing the office isn’t effective until his term ends.
Despite Friday’s court decision and his filing for commissioner, Bonaventura is continuing to press on in his lawsuit contesting the county’s abolishment of the office.
The matter also creates questions for Bonaventura’s political future. Essentially, he’s pursuing a court case to preserve his office while running for another elected post.
Asked what he’d do if he won the primary and then succeeded in court, Bonaventura said it’s an “interesting question.”
“At this point, I don’t know because we don’t know the timing,” he said.
He said if a court allowed him to run for constable before the ballots are printed, he might withdraw from the commission race. But, he added, a decision could also require a special election at some future date beyond the election.
Even if he is successful in the commission race, Bonaventura said, he’ll continue his legal fight to overturn the commission’s decision abolishing his office. That’s important regardless of whether a future constable is him or someone else, Bonaventura said.
Then again, the possibility remains that Bonaventura could lose his bid for commissioner and not succeed in preserving the office either.
But for now, he’s finishing out his four-year term as constable and running for commissioner. If he succeeds, he’ll take a pay cut. As constable, he earns an annual salary of $103,000. Commissioners get paid $80,008 a year.
That district’s race also has two Republican candidates: Carson Earnest and Cindy Lake. The primary will be held June 10.
“I think the commission is a mess right now,” Bonaventura said. “I feel that the commissioners aren’t representing the voters the way they should.”
Contact reporter Ben Botkin at bbotkin @reviewjournal.com or 702-405-9781. Follow him on Twitter @BenBotkin1.