Veteran peace officer and retired state administrator P.K. O’Neill won the race to replace Pete Livermore in the Nevada Assembly Tuesday, easily besting Democrat Dave Cook and IAP State Chairman John Wagner.
O’Neill collected 9,513 votes in the capital district compared to just 4,651 for Cook and 1,163 for Wagner.
He said lawmakers need to look at Nevada’s tax structure, take care to fund Nevada’s schools and veterans and support its community college system. He said he would soon be putting in bill drafts to accomplish some of his goals.
“Now it’s time to take the talk and put it into action,” he said.
O’Neill said that Nevada’s tax structure needs to be “made much more stable to stop the boom and crash cycle.”
He said, however, he wants to do that without raising taxes.
O’Neill raised $86,024 and spent $76,916 in the race, far more than Cook’s $1,315 — which even Wagner’s $1,770 surpassed.
It was O’Neill’s first run for office but he argued he brings some important experience in dealing with the Legislature. He retired form the state as head of Public Safety’s Records and Technology Division — the criminal history repository — and, in that capacity, testified a number of times before legislative committees. He said he already has good relations with a number of those who will now become his colleagues.
He said Nevada’s tax structure needs stability.
“I think and I’m hoping that we have come to the realization that we cannot continue doing things the way we’re doing them,” he said.
He said he hopes Gov. Brian Sandoval brings a plan to changes things, which the governor has said he will do.
In addition, Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, won a second term in District 16 representing south Reno and Carson City. He had a margin of nearly 65 percent to Micahel Kelley’s 29 percent —a total of 22,759 to 10,156 for Kelley and 2,294 for IAP candidate John Everhart.
The results were not surprising considering that neither of his opponents — Democrat Kelley of Carson City and Everhart — raised any money in the race, although Everhart spent $173 of his own money.
Kieckhefer, by contrast, raised $263,219 in the contest.
In addition, Las Vegas Democrat Justin Jones lost his seat, which gives the GOP control of the Nevada Senate. That makes Kieckhefer heir apparent to become chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
In Assembly 39, Republican Jim Wheeler of Douglas County won by a 77-23 percent margin over Al Giordano of the IAP. Republican James Settelmeyer also won re-election in Senate District 17 running unopposed.