Neal to run for Senate District 4 seat

CARSON CITY -- Assemblywoman Dina Neal announced Thursday that she is running for the state Senate District 4 seat in Las Vegas and North Las Vegas that was held by her father, Joe Neal, for 32 years.

Neal, a Democrat, said she has lived her entire life in the district and already represents portions of it as an assemblywoman for District 7.

No one else has announced for the Senate district, although two other Democrats, District 6 Assemblyman Harvey Munford and Mike Flores, who works in Clark County's gang intervention program, have been mentioned as possible candidates.

The district now is represented by state Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, a candidate for the new 4th Congressional District seat.

While the Senate district historically has been represented by African-Americans, its makeup now is 47 percent Hispanic and 28 percent black. It has four times as many Democrats as Republicans.

District 4 generally runs from Bonanza Road in the south, north to Craig Road, and between Rancho Road on the west and Las Vegas Boulevard on the east.

Munford, 71, a four-term Assembly member, said he has not decided yet whether to run for the Senate seat. He added he is "disappointed" in Neal because he thought they had an understanding the seat was his to seek if he wanted to run.

Flores, 24, said he is interested in running, but not making an announcement now. "I think I have a real good chance," he said. "I know it is a historically African-American district, but race should not be an issue." He added African-Americans and Hispanics have the same needs and issues.

Neal said she spent several months deciding whether to run for the state Senate or keep a safe Assembly seat. "I like the people in the Assembly," Neal said. "But when I look at the new district lines, it makes perfect sense that I run."

In her single term in the Assembly, she served on the Education, Transportation, Taxation and Government Affairs committees. She was known for her willingness to speak up and question witnesses on proposed legislation, although most freshmen were more hesitant to speak.

As a lifelong resident, Neal said she is "deeply embedded" in the issues facing residents in the district.

Neal added she is working on an "economic gardening" plan to help businesses through mentoring with more experienced business owners and securing them data they need to grow and expand.

While she hopes the economy recovers, Neal expects there will be the need for at least some additional revenue when the Legislature convenes in 2013. Legislators need to find a fairer, more broad-based way of taxation, she added.

"We need to vet the issue, and figure out good ways to raise revenue for the state. We also need to study if we are spending money on what we need to spend it on," Neal said.

She is the mother of two and a college instructor who intends to take the exam to become a lawyer in February. She has a law degree from Southern University.

Her father, Joe Neal, was one of the best known state senators before he retired in 2004. He also was an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for governor in 2002. Neal said she talked to her father about running and he told her the decision was hers to make.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at or 775-687-3901.