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Democrat and Republican candidates in Assembly District 35 election have similar platforms

EDITOR’S NOTE: This election preview story didn’t make the Voter Guide that’s included in today’s Review-Journal.

Voters in the southwest Las Vegas Valley’s Assembly District 35 will have to choose between similar platforms from all of their primary candidates.

The two Democrats and two Republicans facing off in party primaries are all running on education reform, the economy and jobs. The winners of each primary will face off in the Nov. 4 general election.

None of them support the business margins tax, dubbed the Education Initiative, on November’s ballot, though incumbent Assemblyman James Healey, D-Las Vegas, says he is still making up his mind and open to discussion.

“Every tax needs to be put on the table. Mining. Gaming. Everything,” Healey says.

Republican-endorsed candidate Brent Jones and his primary opponent, Mike Bajorek, both say Nevada does not need more taxes, only more efficiency. And both Republicans say their business experience sets them apart from each other and prepares them to tackle Nevada’s mismanaged resources.

Jones criticizes Bajorek for refusing to pledge not to raise taxes, as he did. But Bajorek says he won’t make campaign promises he may not be able to fulfill.

The word “tax” leaves a vomit taste in his mouth, Bajorek says. But if he were given the choice between implementing a margins tax on small businesses and raising mining taxes, he would raise mining taxes.

“I do well in business because I do what I say I’m going to do,” Bajorek says. “If you want to increase jobs, you have to do it in a way that’s business-friendly.”

Similarly, Jones says businesses will be leaving Nevada left and right if the margins tax passes.

Both men would allow the so-called sunset taxes to expire, and the Republican candidates also agree that what Nevada’s education system needs is more choices and charter schools.

“(Nevada) schools aren’t in the bottom for funding, only performance,” Jones said. “Competition drives up performance.”

Jones is vocal about his intention to work against Nevada’s health exchange and Medicaid expansion, and says questions about states’ rights might be a big issue in the next legislative session.

Democratic primary challenger Charles Clark says his experience working for the school district distinguishes him from his primary opponent, incumbent Healey.

Clark began working as a substitute teacher in February of this year. If elected, he says he would work to establish more youth programs and post-graduate education programs.

He opposes the Education Initiative, saying that governments should just spend more money on education and using money collected from traffic tickets as an example of mismanaged revenue.

Clark also has worked in law enforcement and said safety is another of his main concerns, saying the Las Vegas Valley has too many murders.

He did not have an opinion about the other tax measure appearing on this year’s ballots.

In the 2012 election, the first for the then-newly created district, Healey won the Democratic primary against Nathan Sosa by only 117 votes.

If Republicans can muster a strong enough push, they could be one district closer to weakening the Democratic majority of the previous session’s Assembly.

Midterm elections typically have low turnouts, and Assembly District 35 is one in which Democrats and Republicans seem closely matched. As May blossomed, there were 27,979 active voters registered in the district — 10,866 Democrats, 9,307 Republicans and about 8,000 voters that identify with a third party or none at all.

Healey, who has a host of endorsements and a hefty war chest, seems the obvious front-runner in an election that will likely be a contest just to stand out.

Contact Wesley Juhl at wjuhl@reviewjournal.com and 702-383-0381. Find him on Twitter: @WesJuhl.

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