Republicans crowd the field of the Assembly District 5 primary race, with five GOP candidates campaigning for a chance to face the lone Democrat in November’s general election.
The Republicans represent a variety of occupational backgrounds, including a computer scientist, lawyer and Boy Scouts of America commissioner in the west-central Las Vegas Valley. Assembly District 5 has been represented since 2008 by Democrat Marilyn Dondero Loop, who in December announced she will run for the vacant state Senate District 8 seat.
Hotel worker Troy W. Archer is making his first bid for elected office. He said the biggest challenge facing Nevadans is job growth.
“We have to find ways to help small businesses to succeed in the current economy and open avenues for other businesses to move into our state,” he said.
Archer doesn’t think so-called sunset taxes should be renewed nor should any existing taxes be raised because of their potential to hinder job growth.
Regarding public education improvements, Archer believes “school vouchers are a step in the right direction” because parents would have an option for moving their children from schools that have sub-standard ratings.
Army veteran Barry R. Keller said pressing issues include creating jobs and putting a greater focus on veterans assistance “with meaningful venues for employment and counseling.”
If elected, he said he would work with employers “and create workable tax credits and appropriate funding for energy resources and enhancing tourism” through a committee made up of hotel-casino managers and marketing experts.
He said he fears that the margins tax initiative “would devastate Nevada’s economy, cause the loss of thousands of existing jobs and make it virtually impossible to attract new businesses and jobs to our state.”
A margins tax, based on gross revenues, not profits, “would be the equivalent of a nearly 15 percent corporate income tax,” making the Silver State one of the highest-taxed states in the nation for business owners.
To improve education, Keller advocates greater emphasis on teacher accountability with a more personalized approach toward individual learning abilities.
In the last Republican primary, Keller lost to Bill Harrington, who lost to Dondero Loop in the general election.
Keller has experience in public office as the elected constable of Salt Lake County, Utah, in 1986.
Computer scientist Stuart Blake Tener believes the state’s tax structure and budget should be reviewed. He realizes, though, that “no government can operate in the absence of collecting any taxes (because) taxes fund government and their operations.”
“However, I believe there is a responsibility that is incumbent upon all elected officials … to review the entirety of the state budget and the current tax environment, and try to avoid creating or raising taxes,” he said.
Tener has lived in Las Vegas since 2006. Before moving to Southern Nevada, he once ran unsuccessfully in the Beverly Hills, Calif., city council mayoral race.
In his view, the biggest challenge for the Legislature is coming to grips with the economic realities of too many Nevadans being out of work. The economic climate can be changed, he suggested, by rejuvenating the housing market with measures that compel lenders to help homeowners refinance their homes who haven’t defaulted but are having financial difficulty.
Among his solutions to ease overall economic woes: “Get rid of waste and lower taxes to help people. I don’t think every tax is bad, but you have to be thoughtful.”
To win the educational battle, “Schools need to have the funding to make sure students are going to get quality education. Certainly there has to be involvement by parents,” Tener said.
Business owner Max Miller-Hooks is making his first run for public office. He has lived in the district less than year but has been a Las Vegas Valley resident for 25 years.
Miller-Hooks, who owns a foster care agency and behavioral health company, opposes the margins tax because “it would be bad for the business environment.”
He said so-called sunset taxes should not be extended and the mining tax should remain as it is.
Miller-Hooks sees the Legislature’s most pressing challenge as getting a consensus among the elected officials “with Republicans and Democrats actually working together.”
“I would be open to having conversations about passing good legislation,” he said.
He believes the secret to improving education “starts with the home. I believe in choice. I believe in offering parents the ability to choose what school” their children should attend.
Lawyer Erv Nelson opposes the margins tax proposal.
“I think it’s a very bad idea,” Nelson said. “The state of Texas has a lot of problems with the one they passed and are trying to repeal it.”
Nelson said jobs and the economy make for the biggest challenge in the coming years. The path forward should be keeping taxes as low as possible, “allowing small business to prosper and hire employees, and attracting businesses to our state.
“I think if a student is struggling in school, passing a tax that leads to his parents’ unemployment is not beneficial to (the student’s) education,” Nelson said. “Other challenges include strengthening the public education system and solving the shortage of mental health care facilities.”
Nelson has lived in Assembly District 5 for 27 years. He graduated from Clark High School in Las Vegas and Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School.
Contact Keith Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0308. Find him on Twitter: @KeithRogers2.