- Two people who were appointed to the Nevada Legislature
on Friday will play a significant role in whether a nearly
$2 billion NFL stadium - and potentially the Raiders -
come to Las Vegas.
Clark County commissioners who nominated the candidates to
fill two vacant seats said they were more concerned about
whether their appointees would properly vet a plan to put
$750 million in public money toward the 65,000-seat venue.
Critics worry that in case of a downturn, taxpayers could
be left holding the bag for the project that's partially
funded by billionaire casino owner and Republican
mega-donor Sheldon Adelson.
Marilyn Kirkpatrick said she and her recommended
candidate, Democratic former Assemblywoman Stephanie
Smith, "didn't really have to talk about"
Smith's opinion of the stadium.
really wasn't my concern as much as could she ask the hard
questions, did she understand government," said
Kirkpatrick, who previously held the Assembly seat that
Smith was named to on Friday. "I think she will ask
the hard questions that I would."
commission's move, which fills the final two seats out of
five that were vacant, clears the way for Republican Gov.
Brian Sandoval to call Nevada's 63-member Legislature into
a special session. At least two-thirds of a full
Legislature would need to be on board to pass a proposed
hotel tax hike, which would pay for the stadium, a
convention center expansion and more police.
don't want to give public funds to a project backed by
Adelson, one of the richest men in the world, rather than
to education in a state with one of the country's
worst-performing school systems. They also point to
experts who say stadium deals rarely yield the economic
benefits they promise.
Susan Brager, who nominated Republican Kyle Stephens to
fill the second vacancy, said she asked him whether he'd
simply go along with party leadership or whether he'd be
an independent voice on the deal. She said she got the
right answers from Stephens, who's a longtime account
representative for a janitorial supply company and has
worked on Republican political campaigns.
wasn't looking for a 'yes person,' " Brager said.
"I'm hoping this person would stand up for what is
voted for the candidates, Clark County Commissioner Chris
Giunchigliani said she felt they were only being asked to
do so to ensure there were enough votes for the stadium
deal. When there were vacancies ahead of two recent
special legislative sessions for less hotly debated
economic development deals, those spots were left empty.
is politics at its worst," she said.
said in an interview Friday that he sought replacements
this time in part because of the sheer number of vacancies
— five this time, compared with one each in 2014 and
2015 special sessions. It's "more about making sure
those districts are represented and having a full
complement of legislators," he said.