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Parks jumps into County Commission race

State Sen. David Parks announced today he will take a run at the Clark County Commission seat that Rory Reid is vacating.

Parks, 65, said he hopes to use his four decades of government experience to tackle the county’s pressing budget problems.

“I think I can do a great job,” Parks said. “I know the inner workings of government.”

Parks has spent 13 years in the Legislature, including a year in the Senate. He helped oversee budgeting at the city of Las Vegas for 10 years and worked in county finance for six years.

He said he would use his experience to help fix University Medical Center’s deficit, which ran higher than $80 million last year.

“That’s definitely an area we need to get a better grasp on,” Parks said.

Reid, who is running for governor, chose not seek another term on the commission, throwing his seat up for grabs. In contrast, Commissioners Susan Brager and Chris Giunchigliani plan to run for re-election next year.

Parks is the third person to declare candidacy in Reid’s district. Former Clark County School Board member Mary Beth Scow and Greg Esposito, a planning commissioner, entered the race last month. All three candidates are Democrats.

The only Republican to express an interest in the post is retired police officer and union leader David Kallas, who said he might jump into the race after Thanksgiving.

A conservative analyst said Republican candidates would have the odds squarely against them in this mostly Democratic district.

“They (Republicans) are going to need a serious candidate and not some gadfly,” said Chuck Muth, a former local Republican leader who now heads a conservative grass-roots organization.

Given the tough economy, a Republican contender must be wealthy enough to ante up a big chunk of campaign money to attract large donors, Muth said. Most of the traditional big donors will be focused on the gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races, he said.

“They have less money to play with,” Muth said. “They’re going to put their money into winnable races.”

For those reasons, whoever wins the Democratic primary in this district will probably win the commission seat, Muth said.

Parks said one of his priorities will be stimulating the economy, partly through developing a local renewable energy industry.

He recalled wrestling with the city’s finances when the region was in the throes of a severe recession 30 years ago. The city cut jobs through attrition and didn’t have to fire anyone, he said.

However, layoffs might be required at the county if the economy doesn’t improve, Parks said.

Parks said he was on both the city’s and county’s bargaining teams in negotiating with unions. He said he always tried to be even-handed and believes that is why unions and chambers of commerce endorsed him for the Legislature.

Parks said he is experienced with brutal races. As an openly gay candidate he has been the target of mud-slinging every time he has run for office, he said.

“I’m not afraid of them,” Parks said. “Most voters see right through it.”

Contact reporter Scott Wyland at swyland@reviewjournal.com or 702-455-4519.


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