Three Democrats and three Republicans are seeking the opportunity to succeed Sen. Dina Titus in District 7 in the Legislature in the upcoming August primary.
On the Democratic side, six-term Assemblyman David Parks has the nod from both Titus and Sen. Terry Care, D-Las Vegas, who also represents District 7.
Steve Nathan, a casino maintenance engineer who also owns an automated calling business, said he is running as a moderate alternative to Parks, whom he calls too liberal.
Brandon Casutt wants to improve access to health care and push an economic stimulus proposal.
On the Republican side, one-time Assemblyman Lou Toomin, nightclub developer Robert Zavala and paralegal Lindsay Madsen are seeking the party's nomination.
The seat became open when Titus decided to run for Congress against Rep. Jon Porter, R-Nev.
The winners of the two party primaries will face off in November.
Parks, 64, said the major issue of the session will be balancing the budget, and that his experience as budget director for the city of Las Vegas for 10 years, as chief financial officer and administrative officer for the Regional Transportation Commission and as a policy analyst for the Clark County manager's office give him the experience to work through this difficult period.
Unless revenues begin to improve, the challenge will be difficult, with Gov. Jim Gibbons on record as opposed to any tax increases, he said.
Parks said he is "reasonably" in support of a proposal that will go to voters to increase the room tax to help fund public education.
Parks said he wants to ease regulations so that alternative energy, particularly solar, can be made more accessible to Nevada residents. Parks said he does not view himself as overly liberal, and that his legislative record and views fit in well with District 7 residents.
Nathan, 54, said his focus will be to crack down on violent crime.
"It's a tremendously growing problem here," he said. "People don't feel safe in their own homes or neighborhoods and something needs to be done."
Nathan said he has two proposals, one to make penalties much tougher when a crime such as a robbery turns violent. He also will pursue a three-strikes law that will count criminal convictions in other states.
Nathan said as a moderate candidate for voters, he will have better opportunities to get legislation approved in the Senate, where Republicans now hold a one-seat edge.
Casutt, 37, who has dealt directly with the health care system because two of his children have suffered with cystic fibrosis, said he wants to fix Medicaid, a health care program that consumes millions of state tax dollars each year.
The problem is that getting an expensive treatment approved by Medicaid takes time, he said. But if a Medicaid recipient gets admitted to a hospital, that treatment can be provided right away. The result is that people choose to go to the hospital, where large bills are run up, to more quickly access the care they need, Casutt said. The answer is to expedite the process to get needed treatment without seeking hospitalization, he said.
His tax reform and stimulus plan would reduce property tax values, generating rebates of $1,200 or more. To compensate, the sales tax would be increased by 0.25 percent.
Madsen, 23, said she decided to get into the race to offer an alternative to voters.
"I was raised in the Midwest and I have conservative home values," she said. "I've seen a lot of corruption in our political system and our country is not what our founding fathers fought for."
Madsen said her views mirror Nevada's Republican platform: lower taxes, less regulation and more self-determination. But she also believes the state's system of property tax levies should be repealed.
Toomin, 72, who has run repeatedly for public office after serving one term in the Assembly in 1993 as a Democrat, said he has a number of issues he would like to address, from getting tougher on gang graffiti to ensuring that people who are qualified to carry concealed weapons are able to do so.
"It seems that every session there is another place where they ban the right to carry a gun," he said. "The regulations for a concealed weapons permit are pretty stringent. If you pass the course you should be able to carry your gun."
Toomin said he would look at privatizing some state services to try to help balance the budget. An effort years ago to do that with the state's printing office failed, he said.
But Toomin said he won't support tax increases to get the state out of its fiscal troubles.
Zavala, 38, said he considers himself a moderate Republican who would work with all officials to help the district.
The key is to promote economic activity and encourage business people to stay in District 7 rather than move to some new growing area of the county, he said.
"Other areas have gotten better, but our district has not moved forward," Zavala said. "If I win, I want to work with businesses to rebuild our community."
Contact reporter Sean Whaley at email@example.com or 775-687-3900.