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Judicial debate: Clark County Family Court, Dept. A: Incumbent’s sister-in-law enters race, dodges debate

A Family Court judge is being opposed by his sister-in-law in the June primary, but she didn’t show up for a Las Vegas Review-Journal debate for candidates in the three-way race.

Gayle Nathan, a former Family Court judge herself, questioned the motives of Judge William Voy and his relative Cheryl Wingate, who filed for the seat after Nathan challenged the longtime judge.

“I think what was done was unethical,” Nathan said during the newspaper’s debate, “whether it’s from her perspective or it’s from my opponent’s perspective. I don’t believe that he just didn’t know that this was going to happen.”

Voy has served since 1998, often overseeing juvenile delinquency court, and has run uncontested in three consecutive elections. He said he was surprised by Nathan’s “last-minute filing” and had no previous discussion with Wingate about her decision to enter the race.

“I could tell you what she told me,” Voy said after debate moderator Steve Sebelius questioned him about Wingate. “That would be hearsay, as to her motivation to file in our race. … She stated that she was very upset, and she felt that there needed to be someone else in that race just in case something was to happen, words to that effect, and that she was very upset over the whole situation. … And it is what it is. One of us has to get 50 percent of the vote.”

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Nathan, who served as a Family Court judge from 2010 to 2014 and has been licensed in Nevada since 1993, argued that Wingate’s entry forced a primary race, which would cost Nathan more money and potentially “split the female vote.”

“I don’t think it’s very believable” that Wingate filed without being prompted, Nathan said.

Wingate was reached by phone after the debate by a Review-Journal reporter. Before being asked a question, Wingate said, “I don’t have any comment right now, thank you,” and hung up.

The newspaper hosted debates or conversations with more than 70 candidates in judicial primary races for Family Court, District Court and the Nevada Supreme Court. Mail-in ballots are being delivered to registered voters amid the coronavirus outbreak, and the primary is scheduled for June 9.

In primary races where no candidate captures a majority of votes cast, the top two finishers will advance to November’s general election. If a candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote in the June primary, the candidate will win the election.

Nathan dismissed the results of the Review-Journal’s 2013 Judicial Performance Evaluation, in which 48 percent of the responding attorneys said she should be retained. She was unseated in a primary the following year.

“I don’t put a whole lot of weight into that survey,” she said. “I never have.”

She pointed to a “low number of appeals” in her tenure and a lack of remanded cases, where a higher court would have found that she did not follow the law.

Sebelius asked Voy whether voters should be concerned about Nathan’s survey results.

“The survey is what it is,” Voy said. “So I’m not going to add anything disparaging whatsoever to my opponent in that regard.”

While the debates can be found on reviewjournal.com, they air Wednesday and Saturday nights on Cox Cable’s YurView Channel 14 as part of a video partnership between the media companies.

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

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