Crowded field of candidates vie for North Las Vegas constable seat

Serving court papers and eviction notices is not a job that earns you many friends. Or much money.

So Tom Jeeves can be forgiven for wondering why he faces so much competition for the North Las Vegas constable’s gig.

Jeeves, the only one of four Democratic hopefuls who works in the township constable’s office, warns there’s a steep learning curve for candidates who have never supervised an eviction or issued a summons.

The deputy constable has served 75,000 such notices and figures he’s in the best position to help serve many more.

If elected, Jeeves plans to tweak the office vacated by retiring Constable Herb Brown, working to streamline evictions and bolster the office’s customer service reputation.

But Jeeves said his first order of business would be to make a clean break with policies enacted by embattled Las Vegas Constable John Bonaventura, whose legal and political travails culminated in Clark County commissioners’ March 2013 vote to abolish his office.

“Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should,” Jeeves said. “Just look at Bonaventura. He’s a perfect example of why you need public safety experience to do this job.

“We don’t want our people out there just writing tickets. … Our policy, and it’ll stay this way under me, is that a police officer and a constable do different jobs.”

Deputy Isaac James, one of Jeeves’ three Democratic primary foes, would like to take the office in the opposite direction.

James, an exile from Bonaventura’s soon-to-be shuttered division, hopes to turn the North Las Vegas office into a revenue generator, partly by expanding deputies’ ticket-writing and truck-towing responsibilities — turf now claimed by city police officers.

“I live in North Las Vegas, I drive through it every day, and I see a lot of abandoned vehicles,” James said. “I haven’t talked to the police chief about it, but I know his department is shorthanded. … I think we could help them out with that by helping them out with these vehicles so they can deal with more serious calls.”

Former North Las Vegas City Councilman Robert Eliason, the only one of five hopefuls without law enforcement experience, agreed there is a “lesson to be learned” from Bonaventura’s administration.

Unlike his fellow North Las Vegas-based opponents, Eliason’s not sure that lesson extends to the office’s law enforcement responsibilities.

“We are an office adjudicated by judges and we need to respect mankind,” said Eliason, adding that he doesn’t believe the Las Vegas constable’s office is handling anything it shouldn’t.

All three candidates reached for comment agreed the constable’s post ought to remain a publicly elected office. None reported any campaign funds raised before the start of the first filing period.

All except Eliason remain open to statewide tax initiatives aimed at bolstering education funding or boosting local government property tax collections, so long as the proceeds go back to education and public safety.

The election website for Ryan Clark, a second transplant from Bonaventura’s office, touts the Democratic candidate as a certified firearms instructor with nearly five years’ experience as a deputy constable. He didn’t return several phone calls and emails seeking comment.

Whoever emerges from the June 10 Democratic primary will face 49-year-old Republican Jonathan Martin in the Nov. 4 general election.

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