The race for the newly formed Assembly District 35 seat pits two political novices against each other.
Come 2013, either James Healey or Tom Blanchard will be a rookie legislator in the district, which has about 1,000 more Democratic registered voters than Republican registered voters. Both candidates cite their business acumen as their strong suits.
Healey manages a department with 430 employees and a $25 million budget. He oversees the New York-New York resort's housekeeping staff.
The former owner of a restaurant that specialized in burgers also said he understands the mentality of small and big businesses alike.
A few years ago, some staff in his department had to be laid off because of the ailing economy. Healey said that if elected, he will work tirelessly to improve the economy so layoffs are not as prevalent as they are now.
"It's an absolutely gut-wrenching emotional experience," Healey said . "I don't want to look across the table and see a single mom or single dad lose their job."
He also said shops need to be opening in strip malls again. That can happen with banks working to get business owners funding and the Legislature streamlining the business-licensing process.
Blanchard has owned a realty company since 2002. He has seen his small business thrive and suffer along with the economy. At the company's peak, he had eight employees. Now, he has only one.
"I want to bring back some more common-sense, business-friendly legislation," Blanchard said.
Although he didn't give many specifics of what he meant, Blanchard did say he is against Assembly Bill 284, which was approved to fix the robo-signing scandal that involved illegal signatures on foreclosure documents. It requires agents who sign those documents to have personal knowledge of the lender's authority to foreclose.
Blanchard said because of the law, banks aren't able to foreclose as quickly as before on residents who have stopped making payments on their homes.
The law has added to the housing crisis in Southern Nevada, Blanchard said.
"Our whole housing economy sort of stopped," he said, noting that a shortage of homes on the market is driving up housing prices.
Blanchard and Healey said improving education is a top priority.
Blanchard, who has a 10-year-old son, said throwing money at the K-12 system will not make students smarter.
He said teachers are key, and that one of his big criticisms is that teachers are given too many mandates on what and how to teach. When he went to school, teachers had different styles of teaching based on their strengths and individuality, he noted.
Healey said the key to improving K-12 education is lowering class sizes He said more state dollars have to get into the K-12 system.
Healey said universities need to work alongside the Legislature to develop programs that help keep students in the Silver State upon graduation.
Both Healey and Blanchard spent some time in college but never graduated.
Healey said he is for re-evaluating the tax structure, but it has to be a bipartisan process.
Blanchard said he is against raising taxes unless every single expenditure in the Legislature is evaluated.
Contact reporter Antonio Planas at email@example.com or 702-383-4638.