Las Vegas Sun

December 18, 2014

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6 vie for Titus’ former seat in Legislature

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Brandon Casutt

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Steve Nathan

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David Parks

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Lou Toomin

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Robert Zavala

The District 7 seat (see map) in the Nevada Senate has been left open and three Democrats and three Republicans have hopes of getting past Tuesday’s primary election.

The seat opened when Sen. Dina Titus decided to run for Congress against Rep. Jon Porter, R-Nev.

Titus represented District 7 since 1988 -- a district that has twice as many registered Democrats as Republicans.

On the Democratic ticket is six-term Assemblyman David Parks, as well as Steve Nathan, a maintenance engineer, and business owner Brandon Casutt.

Parks, 64, who represents District 41, was approached by supporters to run when the District 7 seat opened up. He is proposing an improved taxation system to fix Nevada’s budget crisis and wants to increase funding for education.

Casutt, 37, said he hopes to do what he can to reform the federal Medicaid system. He’s dealt with Medicaid first-hand: His 6-year-old son died of cystic fibrosis last year and his 4-year-old daughter suffers from the same illness.

“I feel like I am running to fight to save my daughter’s life,” Casutt said. “I don’t want the same thing to happen to her that happened to my son.”

Casutt also has a tax reform and stimulus plan that he says would generate rebates and lower property taxes.

Nathan, 54, said he entered the race because he is tired of politicians spending more time representing party ideologies and special interest groups than the people who elected them.

He said he plans to propose tougher anti-gang legislation and a “crimes gone violent” bill, a law that would give someone who commits a violent crime the maximum sentence.

“I think the Legislature has done a horrific job in addressing the crime problem that is growing in our neighborhood,” Nathan said.

He has been endorsed by Americans for Tax Reform and plans to alleviate the state’s budget crunch without raising taxes.

Lou Toomin, a one-time assemblyman, was the only candidate on the Republican ticket until the filing deadline, when 23-year-old paralegal Lindsay Madsen and Robert Zavala, a nightclub developer, joined the race.

Suspicious of the last-minute candidates, Toomin, 73, hired a private investigator to look into Madsen’s and Zavala’s backgrounds. The Sun reported Toomin’s findings last month.

Toomin has run for various offices in the past 10 election cycles. He said he feels the economic downturn is the biggest issue in the election and other problems can’t be fixed until the budget process is changed.

Zavala, 38, who has lived in the district since he was 10 years old, said he feels the district needs to be “rebuilt.”

“New jobs need to be created,” he said. “We need big businesses to stay in our district rather than moving to other growing communities.”

Zavala said senior citizens need programs that cater to their needs, and schools in District 7 are not receiving the proper funding.

Madsen was out of town and not available to comment.

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