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Lobbyist, ex-police officer to fill vacant state Senate seat

A retired police lieutenant who has lobbied on behalf of both the Metropolitan Police Department and a police managers union will temporarily fill the state Senate seat that Republican Warren Hardy vacated last year.

Clark County commissioners today appointed lobbyist Stan Olsen, a Republican, as “caretaker” for the District 12 seat that’s up for grabs in the November election.

He’s the first lobbyist in at least 30 years to hold the temporary post.

Olsen, 57, said he won’t use his interim seat as a springboard for the race. “I’m not interested in running for the office,” he said. “They needed to have a fill-in.”

By law, the all-Democratic commission had to pick someone of the same political party as Hardy.

Hardy resigned in June to avoid having his office conflict with his duties as a building-industry lobbyist. He said Olsen was a good choice as caretaker.

“He’s a straight shooter and he understands the process,” Hardy said.

The only reason for appointing someone to a legislative seat in a non-legislative year is if a special session is anticipated, Hardy said.

Lawmakers and Gov. Jim Gibbons have suggested that a special session might be needed to deal with the state’s budget problems.

Olsen said he wanted to ensure that all residents have a voice in a special session, adding, “Otherwise there would be nobody representing the people of District 12.”

Olsen lobbied 12 years for the Metropolitan Police Department. He spent two years as office manager for former Rep. Jon Porter, R-Nev., before starting his own lobbying firm a year ago. Sources said they do not know of other legislative lobbyists being appointed to serve in the Legislature during special sessions dating back to 1980.

Las Vegas gaming executive and lawyer Mike Sloan was appointed to serve as a senator in the special session on banking in 1984, while Jesse Paulk, a builder and member of the Associated General Contractors board, served in the Senate during the medical malpractice special session in 2002.

But only a few other appointments were made in that time span and they generally were people who were friends of the people they replaced.

Not all commissioners got behind Olsen.

Commissioner Tom Collins nominated Assemblyman Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, who is now vying for the Senate seat. The other commissioners shot down his choice.

“People wanted a caretaker who wasn’t going to run (for election),” Commissioner Steve Sisolak said.

Commissioner Susan Brager nominated Olsen, and all but Collins voted to appoint him.

Olsen said that although he has been a Republican for 40 years, he isn’t aligned predominantly with the left or right as a lobbyist. For instance, last year he represented the Las Vegas Police Managers and Supervisors Association, a union made up middle-ranking officers.

Review-Journal Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel contributed to this report. Contact reporter Scott Wyland at swyland@reviewjournal.com or 702-455-4519.

 

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