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July 25, 2014

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Voters select 2 ineligible candidates; turnout low

When the Nevada Supreme Court ruled last month that Clark County Commissioner Bruce Woodbury would be ineligible to run for office again, voters apparently got the memo.

But when it came to some of the other candidates whom the court removed from the ballot based on the state’s term limits law, the message didn’t get through.

Woodbury captured 33 percent of the vote, but yielded his once-certain spot on the November ballot to fellow Republican Brian Scroggins. The sign company owner captured 55 percent in the Republican primary and will move on to face Democrat Steve Sisolak, a higher education regent, who ran away with the Democratic primary race with a commanding 66 percent of the vote.

In two races for seats on the Clark County School Board, however, voters gave nods to Mary Beth Scow and Ruth Johnson, despite the fact that both were declared ineligible. Scow finished second in her race with 26 percent of the vote, while Johnson won her race with 28 percent.

Voter turnout, which was only 5.3 percent during the two-week early voting period, didn’t improve much on Election Day, rising to an overall total of less than 15 percent.

Scow said she’s had a number of voters come up to her and say they voted for her — some who were unaware of the term limits issue, others who said they were but wanted to vote for her anyway.

“It’s overwhelming,” she said. “It was an incredible experience to be able to serve. I met so many wonderful people.”

The third-place candidate in each race will take the place of Scow and Johnson in the November election. Edward E. Goldman and Deanna Wright will compete for Scow’s seat; Ron Taylor and Chris Garvey will compete for Johnson’s.

Woodbury said he paid more attention to the Olympics than the returns on election night, but was aware of what happened.

“I’m gratified that a substantial number of people chose to vote for me, even though I wasn’t eligible,” he said.

Woodbury predicted a hard-fought campaign between Scroggins and Sisolak, while those two candidates said they are eager to begin their general election campaigns.

With the popular Republican incumbent Woodbury out of the way, Sisolak said he is eager to meet with voters and point out the differences between himself and Scroggins in issues like infrastructure development, child welfare, water and transportation.

“We’ve got 12 weeks to the general election exactly,” Sisolak said. “I’m looking forward to getting out into the district, meeting with the voters and discussing these issues.

Scroggins, who said he only began campaigning after Woodbury was declared ineligible, 2 1/2 weeks before the primary election, said he has built his campaign using his own sign business and having his older children manning the phones for him.

He acknowledged that he faces a formidable opponent in Sisolak, but said he plans to connect with voters through a pro-business agenda that will drive local job creation.

“We’re pleasantly surprised that this is the way things went,” Scroggins said. “We worked very hard to reach this point, and we’ll be well-prepared for the general election. We’re going to hit the ground running.”

For the relative few voters that turned out for the primary election, a sense of duty was the driving factor. At one Henderson site, Sun City MacDonald Ranch’s community center, a steady trickle of voters with that thought in mind made their way through the polls.

“We always vote,” MacDonald Ranch resident Robert Cooper said. “We never miss.”

Cooper and his wife, Dominga, said they relied on a voter guide prepared by the Nevada Democratic Party to help them make their decisions on the long list of judicial candidates, but both bemoaned the lack of information about judicial races in the mainstream media.

“I find a dearth of information in our newspapers about who these people are,” Robert Cooper said. “They’re complete unknowns until Election Day.”

One issue that divided voters at the MacDonald Ranch site was the Supreme Court ruling.

“I think it’s a very good idea,” Dominga Cooper said. “After a while, you can become complacent. Nobody needs to be in office for 30, 40 years.”

Other voters, most notably those who supported Woodbury, said they were disappointed by the ruling. Some political watchers were predicting an electoral nose-thumbing at the court in the form of a Woodbury win, but voters like Nancy Sovocool said they weren’t inclined to waste a vote.

“I didn’t (vote for Woodbury),” Sovocool said. “I feel he should be allowed to continue, but you have to deal with what (the courts) say.”

Jeremy Twitchell is a reporter for the Home News. He can be reached at 990-8928 or [email protected].

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