Las Vegas Township Constable John Bonaventura is taking his fight to be on the ballot in this year’s election to the Nevada Supreme Court.
The embattled constable would have been up for re-election this year, had it not been for Clark County commissioners’ March 2013 decision to abolish his office. Under state law, that order is effective in January 2015, when his current term ends.
But in a recently filed motion in the Nevada Supreme Court, Bonaventura argues that the county’s decision amounts to premature enforcement of the ordinance to abolish the office, which isn’t effective until Jan. 4, 2015. He is asking the state’s high court to direct the county’s election department to allow him to file as a candidate for the office during the March 3-14 filing deadlines, the same time frame as the other 10 constables in the Clark County.
The motion is part of Bonaventura’s lawsuit seeking to overturn the county’s decision abolishing his office. According to the filing, Bonaventura preregistered as a candidate for constable on Jan. 24. On Feb. 3, the election department notified him that the department was instructed not to list his office on the ballot, court records show.
Not listing his office on the ballot is prematurely enforcing the ordinance, Bonaventura argues.
In his motion, Bonaventura argues that allowing his office to be on the ballot would result in a “minimal cost and burden” for the county. In contrast the county would face the increased costs of a special election if he prevails in his lawsuit challenging the county’s abolishment of the office, he states.
County attorneys haven’t yet responded to the motion.
Clark County spokesman Erik Pappa declined to comment on the motion, citing the pending litigation. The county also wouldn’t answer a question from the Review-Journal about when it prints ballots after the filing period ends.
However, the last day for candidates to formally withdraw is March 25. Early voting starts May 24, according to the county’s election schedule.
Joe Gloria, county registrar of voters, couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.
Bonaventura makes a variety of legal arguments as well. He contends that there is no authority in state law, the Nevada Constitution, or county code allowing a “year-in-advance premature enforcement of the ordinance before its effective date.”
Bonaventura also argues that the county ordinance is unconstitutional, violating a provision of the state constitution requiring a uniform township government.
“We believe the motion is self explanatory, that an ordinance based on an unconstitutional statute is being enforced prematurely,” Bonaventura said in an email.
Constable offices have sworn deputies with law enforcement powers, who complete duties such as serving legal paperwork and handling evictions. There are 10 other constables in the county that will be on the ballot this year.
Bonaventura was elected in 2010 to his first term. His office has faced a variety of controversies since then, which include a reality television pilot and lawsuits from former staffers.
Contact reporter Ben Botkin at bbotkin @reviewjournal.com or 702-405-9781. Follow him on Twitter @BenBotkin1.