The race for Nevada Assembly District 4 in northwest Las Vegas is a rematch of 2018, which saw Democrat Connie Munk defeat incumbent Republican Richard McArthur in a squeaker where the winning margin was 120 votes out of more than 29,000 cast.
McArthur, a retired FBI agent who defeated an opponent in this year’s Republican primary, says his chance of taking the seat in the swing district is better this year with no third party candidate in the race. An Independent American Party candidate took 671 votes in 2018. He has previously served three terms representing the district, from 2008-2012 and 2016-2018.
In his view, Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak “basically shut the state down” in response to the coronavirus crisis, leading to unemployment, closed businesses and hardship. Looking to the 2021 session in Carson City, he said “The real problem up there is going to be the Democrats are going to want to raise taxes, but they’re gonna have to find a way to make cuts. You can’t tax yourself out of a bad economic situation.”
Democrats currently hold a supermajority in the Assembly. If they retain control, “The Democrats are going to put their bills in. They aren’t going to put mine again,” McArthur said. “So I just want to look at everything and try to do whatever I can to get this state back and going again.”
Munk, seeking her second term, worked in finance and mortgage underwriting for some 30 years and ran her own small mortgage business before turning to the mental health profession in the early 2000s, becoming a licensed mental health professional and addiction counselor.
Now retired, she sponsored two bills that passed the Legislature unanimously last session, one requiring medical facilities who treat survivors of sexual assault to provide them with factual information on emergency contraception, prophylactic antibiotics and other services. Her daughter is a sexual assault survivor.
The other bill was also personal, requiring police and other first responders to receive training on identifying and interacting with people who have developmental disabilities. One of her mental health clients, a developmentally disabled man, died in a confrontation with Spokane police in 2006 where he was beaten, hog-tied and tasered repeatedly.
“All he was trying to do was buy a candy bar and they thought he was causing trouble,” she said.
If re-elected, she wants to bring back two bills from 2019, one that would codify degrees of sexual assault offenses and add language on assaults against people who are intoxicated, drugged or mentally ill. The other would require state certification for certain types of mental health workers that currently do not go through a certification process.
Budget picture ‘thin’
She said the state budget picture for 2021 is “thin” but she hopes it will improve as the state rebounds from economic hardships driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. She cited the need for new revenue and diversifying the state’s economy away from dependence on tourism and gaming and support revising the state mining tax to boost collections from the industry.
Supporters of the change believe mining, a foundational industry in Nevada, has long enjoyed preferential tax treatment and should be called on to pay more.
“I think we need to address the needs of the state and this may be one way to do that without raising (other) taxes,” she said.
McArthur, who opposes any tax increases, says the Democrats who control the government “need to make cuts. That’s the problem.”
“The governor shut the state down, so he should come up with a solution – which they won’t,” he said of the Democrats. “They need to start making cuts to show us if they’re really serious about helping out our state and not just doing it for political reasons.”