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Henderson mayor will face six challengers to keep his post

Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen must fend off six challengers this year to retain the position he has held since 2009.

"I hope to remain the happiest mayor in the universe," Hafen told a group of supporters in mid-January, borrowing a line from former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman.

The mayor’s seat is one of three up for election in Henderson this year. All three incumbents submitted their names during the candidate filing period that ended Thursday, and each drew multiple opponents.

Henderson municipal elections are nonpartisan, and all registered voters in the city may vote in each of the races.

Hafen, 58, began serving on the Henderson City Council in 1987. He narrowly defeated then-Councilman Steve Kirk in the past mayoral race.

In his bid for a second four-year term, Hafen will face Eddie "In Liberty" Hamilton, 70; Joe Scala, 54; Clayton Simmons, 43; Rick Workman, 56; Kyler Robinson, 28; and Jerry Sakura, 73. None of the challengers has held an elected position.

Hamilton, who then used the nickname "The Frugal," ran unsuccessfully for the Ward 1 seat on the Henderson City Council in 2011. He also has made three failed bids for a spot in the U.S. Senate – twice as a Republican and once as a Democrat. He is registered as a Republican.

"I’m basically a conservative; it doesn’t matter the party label," he said.

Hamilton, a retired Chrysler Corp. executive, has been campaigning on Twitter, where he uses a photo of his wife, Silvia, for his profile picture. His emails feature a shirtless photo of his son, Adam, taken when the Las Vegas man was a teenager.

The candidate said he uses his family members’ photos to "make it interesting."

Scala, a construction supervisor, never has run for office before.

He said he spent five years in the federal prison system after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine, a felony. He was released in 1996.

"I’m a pretty straight shooter," Scala said. "I’ve made my mistakes in life."

The candidate then added, "I don’t repeat my mistakes."

Scala said he recently has formed a friendship with former Henderson Councilwoman Kathleen Vermillion, who resigned in January 2012 before finishing her first term. He said Vermillion was "instrumental" in his decision to run for mayor.

The candidate is not the same Joe Scala who helped fund a failed attempt to recall Las Vegas Councilman Steve Ross last year.

Simmons, who works for MGM Resorts International in the food and beverage department, is running for office for the first time.

Workman, accreditation and policy manager for the Henderson Police Department, made a failed bid for a Clark County Commission seat in 1998. He is a retired Air Force officer.

Robinson, a fire service technician, never has run for office before.

Sakura, a retired business executive, ran for the 3rd Congressional District seat last year and lost in the Democratic primary.

The mayor of Henderson receives an annual salary of $54,632.

Also up for election this year are the Ward 3 City Council seat and the Department 1 seat in Henderson Municipal Court.

John Marz, 66, was appointed in January 2012 to the Ward 3 seat after it was vacated by Vermillion. At the time he said, "I absolutely am not going to run." But he has changed his mind.

Marz, a marketing consultant, explained the decision in a recent letter to Henderson residents. According to the letter, when he sought the appointment, he intended to "leave politics entirely in 2013."

"But once I got to City Hall, rolled up my sleeves and went to work, it became readily apparent that the challenges facing our great City can only be met with long-range leadership and a private-sector perspective."

Although the letter was dated Jan. 18, before the filing period began, Marz wrote, "I am the only candidate for Ward III with a private-sector track record of fiscal restraint."

Marz is being challenged by Erin Lale, 44; Bruce Cutler, 68; and Milt Doyle, 63.

Ward 3 includes the Green Valley area. Members of the City Council serve four-year terms and receive an annual salary of $44,288.

Lale, an author and publisher, ran unsuccessfully for an Assembly seat in 2010. She also applied for the appointment that Marz received last year.

Cutler, a driver for O’Reilly Auto Parts, made a failed bid for the Ward 3 seat in 2009 – the year Vermillion, then known as Boutin, was elected.

Doyle, a real estate agent and owner of an insurance agency, ran unsuccessfully for a Clark County Commission seat in 1998.

Municipal Judge Mark Stevens faces challenges from Sandra Allred DiGiacomo, 44, a chief deputy district attorney; Gary Thompson, 47, a private attorney; and Terry Jones Zach, 35, also a private attorney.

Stevens, whose age was not available, was elected in 2007.

Municipal judges serve six-year terms and receive an annual salary of $137,867.

The primary election is April 2, and early voting starts March 16.

Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at cgeer@reviewjournal.com or 702-384-8710.

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