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Judicial candidates rush to enter Clark County races

Updated January 6, 2020 - 6:37 pm

Dozens of Clark County judicial candidates arrived Monday to place their names on a 2020 ballot that is expected to see more than 100 people vying for seats on the bench.

By the end of the first day of the two-week filing period, which closes Jan. 17, at least 39 candidates had filed in the 32 District Court departments, with 34 entered in the 26 Family Court races. Six others filed for seats with Las Vegas, Henderson or North Las Vegas justice courts.

Each job carries a six-year term.

Several candidates lined up outside the Pueblo Room at the Clark County Government Center hours before the filing period opened.

The list of candidates who filed Monday included longtime incumbents and newcomers to campaigns. Among them were five women from the Clark County public defender’s office and at least one longtime prosecutor.

Belinda Harris, a deputy public defender vying for the seat on the North Las Vegas Justice Court held by Chris Lee, called the group from her office “historic.”

“We are really setting a trend,” said Harris, who has worked as a public defender for more than 13 years.

District Judge Michelle Leavitt, appointed to the bench in 2002, said that in the past, she arrived to file for re-election on the first day.

“I don’t recall having to stand in line like this,” she said.

Attorney Bruce Gale, who has had unsuccessful candidacies in years past, said he arrived early Monday for “strategic reasons” to file for a seat expected to be vacated by District Judge Kenneth Cory. Gale declined to disclose those reasons.

Jacob Reynolds, who filed for the seat being vacated by District Judge Valerie Adair, said he filed on day one because he needed to get back to work. Specifically, Reynolds had a plane to catch for a deposition in Boston.

Campaigns for the candidates also started delivering their messages Monday for what is certain to be an overwhelming field. An email from first-time District Court candidate James Sweetin touted his 25 years as a prosecutor. Another from incumbent William Kephart boasted of his nearly 300 trials.

Candidates for statewide offices, such as the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, are required to file with the secretary of state’s office.

On Monday, two candidates officially emerged for Mark Gibbons’ soon-to-be open seat on the high court. District Judge Douglas Herndon, appointed in 2005, and longtime defense attorney Ozzie Fumo, a Nevada assemblyman, are vying for the position.

Supreme Court Justice Kristina Pickering filed to retain her seat, as did Court of Appeals Judge Bonnie Bulla. At least 66 judicial seats will appear on this year’s ballot. The primary election is set for June 9.

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

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