Henderson mayor gets more time in term-limits case

The Henderson mayor’s attorney has been granted more time to defend the city official’s standing in office.

Mayor Andy Hafen now has until July 8 to respond to the Nevada Supreme Court’s request for more information in a term-limit case seeking his removal that was filed by a former candidate.

Hafen’s attorney, Todd L. Bice, requested and was granted the 10-day extension Friday because the attorney had “other matters that needed to be dealt with on a shorter time frame,” Bice said Monday.

The extension came the calendar day before Hafen, state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and Secretary of State Ross Miller were scheduled to respond to a late May filing. Former mayoral candidate Rick Workman filed the challenge May 21 after Cortez Masto and Miller declined to consider removing Hafen from office following a February state Supreme Court ruling on term limits.

Once Hafen, Cortez Masto and Miller file their joint response, Workman will have 15 days to answer their counter argument. The court then will decide if it should intervene in the case.

Hafen was first elected to the City Council in 1987 and was elected mayor in 2009. He was re-elected last year after receiving 55 percent of the vote in the primary.

Workman, a city employee since 2000 who works for the Police Department as its criminalistics administrator, received 37 percent of the vote.

A 1996 amendment to the Nevada Constitution capped term limits for state and local officials to elected office at 12 years. But it was not until the Supreme Court ruled Feb. 20 in Lorton v. Jones that Workman challenged Hafen’s standing. The court ruled that term limit provisions in state law mean that members of the Reno City Council who already have served 12 years under the restrictions cannot run for mayor.

Workman’s petition is asking the court to “immediately” remove Hafen “from office on the legislative body of the city of Henderson” because of state term-limit laws. The filing asks the court to oust Hafen, or direct the attorney general or secretary of state to take action and remove the mayor.

A May 1 letter from Cortez Masto to Workman stated she found that a state Supreme Court ruling on term limits in February “was not intended to apply retrospectively to unseat office holders who were elected before the court’s ruling.”

The Supreme Court wants Cortez Masto and Miller to defend that position, stating Workman “set forth issues of arguable merit and may have no plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of the law.”

Contact reporter Arnold M. Knightly at aknightly@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3882. Follow him on Twitter: @KnightlyGrind.