On paper, the timing seems perfect. Embattled Nye County District Attorney Bob Beckett is expected to resign on Monday. Voters will go to the polls on Tuesday to choose his successor. And the County Commission will meet on Nov. 9 to pick someone to fill out the final two months of his fourth and final term.
So why not leave it up to the people and let the winner of the election take the job early?
Ron Kent, the Republican in the race, said that if he is “honored and privileged to be elected,” he would be more than willing to begin work before the official start of the four-year term in early January.
But Democrat Brian Kunzi said he could not take the job early because that would be unfair to his current employer, the Nevada attorney general’s office.
“I have to transition out of my current job,” Kunzi said. “I don’t have the luxury Mr. Kent does.”
Beckett fired Kent earlier this year, shortly after the longtime chief deputy prosecutor announced his candidacy.
The five-member County Commission hasn’t discussed how best to fill Beckett’s post for the last two months of the year, but state law is clear on the matter. Under Nevada Revised Statutes, county commissioners are required to name an interim or permanent replacement for an elected district attorney at their first regularly scheduled meeting after the post is vacated.
County Commission Chairman Gary Hollis said the idea of appointing the winner of Tuesday’s election makes sense to him, but he doesn’t speak for the full board.
Beckett agreed to leave office two months early and undergo alcohol counseling as part of a plea agreement unveiled in Pahrump Justice Court on Oct. 15.
The four-term incumbent pleaded no contest to one misdemeanor count of obstructing a public officer, but the charge will be dismissed if he resigns as promised on Nov. 1 and completes counseling.
He still faces an unrelated misdemeanor drunken driving charge after he was found passed out behind the wheel of a county vehicle on a remote Pahrump street on Sept. 7.
Whatever happens after the election, Kunzi said he doesn’t think filling Beckett’s seat during the final two months of the year should be treated as “an emergency situation.” As far as Kunzi is concerned, the seat has been effectively empty for months now, even though Beckett was technically still in office.
“It’s been operating as is anyway,” Kunzi said of the district attorney’s office.
Contact reporter Henry Brean at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0350.