Of the five candidates vying for the office of North Las Vegas constable, only the incumbent does not support a state law requiring the position be held by a certified law enforcement officer.
Robert Eliason, a Democrat holding the office since 2015, has been unable to obtain the required state certification due to a neurological condition that prevents him from completing sit-ups. He maintains that requirement is unnecessary and that his office is thriving.
Aside from performing evictions, the constable’s main function is to serve civil court papers such as subpoenas, wage garnishments and property liens, for which they claim fees. Eliason said he and his deputies have served enough papers during his first term to not only pay for their operations but also accrue an additional $1 million.
“We have been very effective the last four years. We have returned money to the county, which has never ever happened in the history of this office,” said Eliason, 55. “I want to continue to do that.”
The primary election is Tuesday.
Eliason sued Clark County last July in response to county commissioners discussing whether to declare his office vacant and appoint a replacement constable over the missing certification.
Aside from that, however, Eliason’s tenure has been scandal free — unlike Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell, who is under criminal investigation due questionable spending, and the Las Vegas constable’s office, which was dissolved in 2015 due to controversies.
“We’re squeaky clean,” Eliason said.
The other four candidates are certified with the Nevada Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, and each candidate says it makes them more qualified than Eliason to hold the office.
“One of the most dangerous things a constable or a deputy constable can do is an eviction,” said Jon Martin, a retired police detective and Democratic candidate. “All it takes is just one time for it to turn into a physical confrontation, or a barricade situation or another scenario that requires a law-enforcement response.”
Eliason faces two familiar opponents in the Democratic primary: Martin and Isaac James.
Martin, 53, ran as a Republican in 2014 and lost to Eliason in the general election. Martin said he switched to Democrat because the party “represents everybody.” The 26-year veteran of the North Las Vegas Police Department has an endorsement and $2,500 donation from the city’s police union.
“I’ve worked with issues that are likely to come up in the constable’s office, such as professional standards,” he said. “Out of all the candidates, I have the greater skill set for running the office.”
James, 62, served as a deputy constable with the Las Vegas constable’s office for 13 years and now works as a security guard. He lost the 2014 Democratic primary against Eliason by about by about 10 percentage points.
James said he wants the constable’s office to be involved in towing abandoned vehicles in North Las Vegas. He sees as a way to clean up neighborhoods and generate revenue.
“I am experienced,” he said. “I’m dedicated, honest and sincere about making the office grow.”
While his opponents may have more law enforcement experience, Eliason said his three terms as a North Las Vegas city councilman and four years as constable make him a better choice.
“I’ve dealt with government budgets for 12 years,” he said. “None of them have been in an administrative position.”
The Republican candidates have one thing the Democrats do not — financial backing.
According to campaign finance records, retired Henderson police officer and court marshal Travis Roundy, 47, has raised more than $38,000. Laughlin deputy constable and insurance agent Jimmy Vega, 51, has raised more than $28,000, records show. The three Democratic candidates had raised about $5,500 combined, as of the May 18 report deadline.
Roundy and Vega each said they want to implement programs and partner with local organizations that help evicted families and veterans find temporary and permanent housing.
Vega is backed by Nevada State Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald and Laughlin Constable Jordan Ross. He said his experience as a deputy constable and his time in the Navy makes him the best choice.
“Not only do I know how to run an office because I’m a small business owner, I also know how to lead from the front,” he said.
But Roundy argues that he is the better choice because he has a master’s degree and more law enforcement experience than his primary opponent.
“Law enforcement and community peace is what I’ve stood for and what I’ve been about,” Roundy said. “He’s a part-time deputy constable for a small municipality, and I’ve been a full time law enforcement officer for 23 years in a metropolitan area of Las Vegas.”