A former judge and perennial candidate hopes to unseat the two-term incumbent in the race for Clark County district attorney.

Don Chairez, who has run for Congress, the Nevada Supreme Court and attorney general since leaving the District Court bench, said he is running for district attorney in part because he has heard the office suffers from low morale under David Roger.

Chairez, a deputy district attorney early in his law career, said the job would allow him to continue his public service.

"I liked being able to fight for justice. That’s basically been my whole career," Chairez said.

Roger, who was elected in 2002 and re-elected in 2006, said his campaign is focused on his accomplishments during his eight years as district attorney.

During that time, crime throughout the county has fallen by 25 percent, he said.

He attributed that success in part to the close working relationship his prosecutors have with police, as well as an expanded habitual criminal unit that targets those who commit the most crimes.

"We’ve put away hundreds of career criminals," he said.

Roger said he also knows how to handle the administrative side of the office, including how to prioritize resources amid budget cuts that have eliminated about 60 positions. Because of the cuts, Roger said he focuses his resources on crimes that affect the community the most, such as gang-related crime and auto theft.

He also remains a hands-on district attorney, making decisions on important cases and occasionally trying cases in the courtroom, such as the O.J. Simpson robbery case.

Roger has spent more than two decades as a prosecutor and said he would continue to run the office the same way he has since being first elected.

"I was a career prosecutor, and I would work every day to protect this community," he said. "And that’s what I’ve done since 1987."

After a four-year stint as a county prosecutor, Chairez was appointed to the District Court bench in 1994. He served until 1998, when he resigned to run as a Republican against U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley. He remained a registered Republican until last year, when he became a Democrat.

Chairez said he made the switch because as a moderate he felt the Republican party was being dominated by the Tea Party.

Both candidates agree, however, that the district attorney is not a political position.

Contact reporter Brian Haynes at or 702-383-0281.

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