A new year is underway, and this week’s headlines turned immediately to the midterm elections coming up on the local, state and national levels.
Elko will be choosing a new mayor after longtime mayor and city councilman Chris Johnson hit his term limit. Johnson barely squeaked into the 2014 race after the Nevada Supreme Court ruled there is no difference between a city councilman and a mayor when it comes to term limits. He still met the requirement, however, because of a shift in the city’s election cycle, which is now the same as the county and other levels of government.
Regardless of what the state Supreme Court says, there is a difference between city councilman and mayor. Just ask Reece Keener, who plans to give up his city council seat to run for mayor.
Keener was appointed to the council in 2013 to replace Rich Perry, who moved to Carson City to head the Nevada Division of Minerals. He was elected to the position in 2014, serving before that on the city planning commission.
Besides Keener’s open council seat, John Patrick Rice’s position is also on the ballot this year. He is eligible to run again after first being elected in 2007, when the city was still on an odd-year election cycle.
Campaign 2018 began this week with Elko Justice of the Peace Mason Simons filing for re-election.
Simons was elected to his first six-year term in 2012, topping a field of four candidates in the primary and going on to win after Al Kacin was named district judge by Gov. Brian Sandoval.
Neither Simons nor Keener have any competition at this point. Candidates for judicial office have until Jan. 12 to file, while candidates for all other offices do not file until March.
Wendover, Carlin and Wells will also have elections for justice of the peace this year.
Other key local offices that will be up for grabs include Elko County Sheriff and District Attorney. In another head-scratcher, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that such offices are not subject to term limits.
Sheriff Jim Pitts has served two full terms, while D.A. Tyler Ingram has barely served a year. He was appointed to the position in October 2016 after the death of Mark Torvinen.
Other county-level seats on the ballot this year are assessor, clerk, recorder, public administrator, and treasurer. Two county commission seats – which are subject to term limits – are on the ballot, but both Delmo Andreozzi and Cliff Eklund are eligible to run again. Andreozzi was elected in 2014 after beating two opponents in the primary, including former Assemblyman John Carpenter. Eklund, who served two terms as mayor of Carlin, was also elected in 2014.
A number of other local seats will be open this year, including four on the school board, three on the TV board, one on the Elko Civic Auditorium Board, and three on the West Wendover Recreation Board.
While we aren’t aware of any races on the local scene as of this writing, it’s clear that some tough campaigning will take place in Nevada for state and federal offices.
With Gov. Brian Sandoval at the end of his second term, at least half a dozen candidates are hoping to replace him, including Attorney General Adam Laxalt, Nevada Treasurer Dan Schwartz, and Clark County Commissioners Chris Giunchigliani and Steve Sisolak.
Assembly John Ellison will be on the ballot, as he usually is because assemblymen serve terms that last only two years. He was first elected in 2010 after serving as both an Elko County commissioner and city councilman.
Other state offices that are in play this year include lieutenant governor, secretary of state, treasurer, controller, and three spots on the Nevada Supreme Court.
On the federal level, incumbent U.S. Sen. Dean Heller is expected to face challenges in both the primary and general election as he is targeted by both pro-Trump forces and Democrats.
U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei also will face competition for the heavily-Republican District 2 congressional seat.
With 2018 barely off the ground, the scorecard is bound to change in the months ahead.
Dates to watch for are March 5-16 when candidates for non-judicial offices will file, and June 12 when Nevada holds its primary election.
The action will come to an end when voters cast their final ballots Nov. 6.