October 6, 2012 - 1:06 am
It’s not at all surprising that a residency challenge has been filed in a Nevada legislative race. It is surprising that it took until the campaign’s final weeks to get one.
On Tuesday, Assembly District 9 GOP candidate Kelly Hurst filed a criminal complaint in District Court seeking to disqualify his opponent, Democrat Andrew Martin, on the grounds that Mr. Martin does not live in the jurisdiction.
Mr. Hurst hired a private investigator to track Mr. Martin’s movements between a southwest valley condominium – the District 9 address Mr. Martin listed on his candidate filing – and much larger house in Assembly District 2. Investigator Tom Dillard took photographs of Mr. Martin’s Chevrolet Volt being charged at the house overnight, and of Mr. Martin leaving the house in the mornings. Mr. Martin says he lives in the condominium, while his office is inside the house.
It’s a gross misdemeanor to knowingly submit false information on a declaration of candidacy. Mr. Hurst’s attorney, Frank Cremen, said he will request an expedited hearing, although it’s too late to change general election ballots. The case might not be heard until after the Nov. 6 election. Under state law, the court could remove Mr. Martin from office if he wins election but is found to reside outside the district.
Mr. Martin enjoys the presumption of innocence until a court determines otherwise. Regardless of the outcome of this race and case, it’s an old story in Nevada politics.
Former Clark County Commissioner Lynette Boggs famously was videotaped emerging from a house outside her district in a bathrobe. It cost her re-election in 2006. Over the decades, a handful of candidates have been tossed from the ballot for being carpetbaggers, while a few sitting state lawmakers – ex-Assemblyman Morse Arberry foremost among them – made no secret of the fact that they lived well outside the districts they represented.
This year, too many lawmakers and legislative candidates to count have moved – or at least declared new addresses – to run for offices in districts newly drawn as a result of decennial redistricting. Although they’ll vote on laws that affect all Nevadans, where they live matters. If they don’t reside alongside us, in our neighborhoods, they can’t witness or experience the issues that concern us. And they’ll keep seeking out nicer environs, away from the unwashed masses they represent, as long as they think you don’t care.