Odis “Tyrone” Thompson has his work cut out for him: taking over an Assembly district that became vacant following the historic expulsion of his predecessor.
The Clark County Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to appoint the North Las Vegas Democrat to the seat vacated by Steven Brooks, who was ousted by Assembly members from District 17.
Thompson, 45, the regional initiatives coordinator of the Southern Nevada Regional Planning Coalition who also has worked in government, said he hopes to get to Carson City and be on the job by Monday.
He cannot introduce any legislation, as it’s past the deadline. But he stressed he closely is following issues such as Medicaid expansion and Assembly Bill 230, which would require school districts to put a comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education program in place. That curriculum change is needed to combat high rates of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, he said.
Thompson was less certain about whether he would run for the seat in 2014.
“I’ll assess the situation, as I said, once the session is over,” Thompson said.
When asked what the considerations are, he said, “I’d just have to look at my whole situation.”
Asked whether he would follow leadership’s direction, he stressed collaboration and communication. Thompson said he would talk to the legislative leadership and bring his questions to them, noting there could be times when he has helpful ideas.
Thompson described himself to commissioners as a “passionate public servant” who would be accessible to voters.
Thompson was a neighborhood liaison and community outreach manager for the county, a neighborhood planning and initiatives manager for the city of Las Vegas, and a supervisor for state welfare.
He has volunteered as a court-appointed special advocate for abused and neglected children.
Thompson had the backing of Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas. She encouraged commissioners to appoint Thompson or Meli Pulido, who also applied for the job. Kirkpatrick didn’t return a call seeking comment.
Brooks was ousted by the Assembly on March 28 after a series of incidents that included a Jan. 19 arrest on allegations that he threatened Kirkpatrick, based on committee assignments, and a domestic violence arrest involving his wife in February. He later was arrested after an Interstate 15 chase near Barstow, Calif., and a violent incident with police.
Commissioner Tom Collins, whose district overlaps with Assembly District 17, sought to explain his reason for supporting a recommendation from Kirkpatrick.
“This is a powerful board,” he said. “The Legislature is the body that grants the power to the board. We have seen the wrath of speakers in past sessions.”
He also noted that lawmakers easily rub elbows in Carson City, a smaller community where people bump into each other.
All applicants for the job were given the opportunity to talk to commissioners Tuesday.
Besides Pulido, other applicants were Mujahid Ramadan, Michelle Jotz, Glynn Coleman, William Robinson II and Brandon Casutt.
Several people spoke on behalf of Thompson, including Yvette Williams, chairwoman of the Clark County Democratic Black Caucus. She said the organization supported him.
The legislative district’s population is
24.35 percent African-American, the second-highest percentage in Clark County, and 30.6 percent Hispanic.
Brooks was of African-American and Hispanic heritage, and the district will continue to have a minority lawmaker with Thompson, who is an African-American.
He won’t be paid a salary as a legislator. Legislative leadership opted not to pay the new lawmaker the salary Brooks had received. But he will receive a per diem while in Carson, which provides $152 a day for meals and lodging, according to the Legislative Counsel Bureau.
Contact reporter Ben Botkin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-455-4519.