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November 28, 2014

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Senate OKs bill to require ward-only voting in Henderson

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Justin M. Bowen

City Hall in Henderson opened for voting at 7 a.m. Tuesday for the municipal primary election.

Despite opposition by a majority of Republicans, the Senate pushed through a bill Monday that orders Henderson and three other cities to require candidates be elected from wards rather than the cities at large.

Sen. Patricia Spearman, D-Las Vegas, said the affluent are able to elect members to the city council in the at-large voting now in Henderson, Sparks, Reno and Carson City.

She said it “marginalizes the minorities” and those without education.

Opponents of SB457 argued this should be left up to the local governments to decide whether to change their charters to require candidates to be elected from wards rather than the full electorate.

Las Vegas Republican Sens. Michael Roberson, Mark Hutchinson and Scott Hammond joined Democrats in a 14-7 favorable vote. The bill goes to the Assembly.

Spearman said studies show that one or two parts in wealthy districts are able to elect candidates in an at-large election. She said 75 percent of the voters in low-income areas are disenfranchised.

Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, said this issue was on the ballot in Reno and 76 percent of the voters wanted the chance to elect all the council candidates, not just the ones living in their district.

Sen. Ruben Kihuen, D-Las Vegas, said those who live in Summerlin in Clark County don’t understand the issues of east Las Vegas and those in east Las Vegas don’t know the issues that impact Summerlin. The council members should understand the problems of those they represent, he said.

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