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Crime, homelessness county’s biggest challenges, District C candidates say

Crime, homelessness and balancing development with sustainability are among the biggest challenges facing Clark County and Commission District C, candidates say.

It’s issues like those that have motivated five candidates to run for the seat, which opened after Commissioner Ross Miller announced he would not seek reelection.

Residents of District C, which covers a portion of the northwest valley that includes Kyle Canyon, Mt. Charleston and Indian Springs, will have a chance to choose which candidate from their party advances to the general election.

The candidates, which include two Democrats and three Republicans, will face off in separate primary contests in June.

Republicans to face off

A county commission seat hasn’t been won by a Republican since 2008, but that didn’t stop attorney April Becker, retired Metro detective Tom Wagner and business owner Gail Powers from throwing their hats in the ring for the seat.

Becker, 53, said she’s running for the seat because she believes it’s time for a change that “truly reflects the interests and needs” of those in the community.

Becker said she’s witnessed firsthand how a lack of diverse voices on the commission has “led to decisions being made behind closed doors.”

Becker, who has been endorsed for the seat by Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo, ran unsuccessfully for Congress against Rep. Susie Lee in 2022 and a state Senate seat in 2020.

As for what sets her apart from the other candidates, Becker said her “unique blend” of personal experience, professional expertise and deep-rooted commitment to the community makes her the best for the job.

Wagner, 58, argued there’s “plenty” of lawyers on the commission. He said his law enforcement background sets him apart from others vying for the seat.

Wagner said a position on the commission would allow him to continue his service to the county. The self-employed entrepreneur vowed to be “a full time commissioner,” and he said his ability to bring people together to solve complex problems is a skill currently needed on the commission.

Powers, 68, who runs an equestrian training center, cattle company and cattle club, said she’s running for the seat because all residents of the district need to be “recognized, represented and protected” through the commission.

A resident of the area since 1956, Powers said she’s been advocating for the protection of rural areas and “the rural lifestyle” since the late 1970s, a fact she says sets her apart from the others running for the seat.

Democrats compare service, experience

On the Democratic side, Assemblywoman Shannon Bilbray-Axelrod is facing Hunter Cain, the founder of a charity supporting foster children.

Bilbray-Axelrod, who has represented a portion of the Summerlin area in the state Legislature since 2016, said her “deep affection” for the area has motivated her to “ensure its continued prosperity, preserving its appeal for future generations,” including for her daughter.

The assemblywoman argues that her “first hand experience in governance” sets her apart from the other candidates vying for the seat.

Cain, 42, said his “profound dedication” to public service and “vision for positive change” led him to run for office.

Cain ran unsuccessfully against Miller for the seat in 2020, and lost in the Democratic primary for county recorder in 2022.

As for what sets him apart from other candidates running for the seat, Cain said he has dedicated his life to service, including serving in the U.S. Army, working as part of Rep. Dina Titus’ office and becoming a foster parent.

Challenges facing county

Republicans and Democrats say the district, and the county, are facing several challenges.

Bilbray-Axelrod said the district needs to strike a balance between development and sustainability. Diversifying the county’s economy and ensuring equitable access to public services are “pivotal,” she said, and called for adequately funding resources for first responders, health care professionals and educators.

Cain said he believes the district is facing a rise in crime. If elected, Cain said, he hopes to address access to health care, reform the Department of Family Services and create a county department focused on veterans.

All three Republican candidates named homelessness as one of the biggest challenges facing the county.

Becker said homelessness, safety, and “bureaucratic obstacles” are some challenges facing the county today, which she vowed to address by enhancing support services, providing necessary resources for law enforcement and streamlining development approval processes.

Wagner said public safety and economic diversification are his top priorities and said the area has an issue with homelessness and affordable housing, issues he said need to come with “responsible growth strategies.”

Powers said she believes some of the biggest issues facing the county are crime, homelessness, “reasonable and responsible” growth and protecting the valley’s remaining rural areas.

Contact Taylor R. Avery at TAvery@reviewjournal.com. Follow @travery98 on X.

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