EDITORIAL: No carpetbagging

Voters in a pair of Southern Nevada Assembly districts sent a strong message to lawbreaking political opportunists Tuesday: We don’t want carpetbaggers in Carson City.

Now it’s up to Gov. Brian Sandoval and the new Republican majority in the Legislature to honor that message with tougher, unmistakably clear residency standards — and a mandate that candidates cannot take office if a court has determined they don’t live in their districts.

The races in Assembly Districts 10 and 34 had additional drama Tuesday because the Democrats in each contest had been ruled ineligible for office. Judges found Jesse “Jake” Holder in District 10 and Meghan Smith in District 34 did not live within those districts for 30 days before the close of spring candidate filing.

But there remained the possibility that Holder and Smith could take office because the court rulings came after ballots had been printed. Similar circumstances unfolded in 2012, when Democrat Andrew Martin was found by a court to not reside in the district he sought to represent, but won election anyway and was seated by the Assembly’s majority Democrats in 2013. They did so because the Nevada Constitution says the Senate and Assembly “shall judge the qualifications, elections and returns” of their members.

Voters eliminated the possibility of an outrageous repeat of two years ago. They rejected Holder and Smith, electing Republicans Victoria Seaman and Shelly Shelton instead as part of a new GOP majority.

If our representatives do not live among us, they can’t relate to our concerns. Residency matters. And lawmakers cannot be allowed to willfully break the law. As part of the GOP’s reform agenda, lawmakers should approve internal rules, or amend the state constitution — whatever it takes — to prohibit any candidate ruled ineligible for office by a court of law from taking that office.

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