The old guard of Nevada politics keeps losing members from its ranks, either from term limits or death.
In April, for example, Yerington Democrat Joe Dini, who served a record eight terms leading the Assembly as speaker, passed away.
Voters first elected the Yerington businessman to the Assembly in 1967, the same year Fallon’s Virgil Getto won his first term. Dini served through 2002, which made him the longest serving assemblyman in Nevada history.
Like Getto, Dini was known for his ability to work with lawmakers from both parties.
Sadly, the state is mourning the loss of two rural Nevada political giants this year.
Getto, who died earlier this month after a long illness, served his Churchill County constituents for more than 24 years in both the Assembly and Senate. A champion of agriculture and education, Getto’s deeds made Nevada a better place under his leadership and involvement.
First, Getto gained a grasp on education and its process as a member of the Churchill County School Board.
Getto and fellow Churchill County lawmaker Carl Dodge, a state senator, pushed hard to obtain a campus in Fallon for Western Nevada College so that residents in a rural community could take both academic and vocational courses to improve themselves. This endeavor would not have been made possible if it weren’t for the thousands of dollars in donations made by both Getto and Dodge.
A building on the WNC Fallon campus was renamed in his honor in 2004.
“He partnered with Carl Dodge to make this campus happen,” said Bus Scharmann, who retired several years ago as dean.
During his career, Getto worked tirelessly for the community and for the state. In a time when Nevada’s population was fewer, the clout of rural legislators was more evident, especially with the likes of Getto, Dodge, Dini, Lawrence Jacobsen of Douglas County and John Carpenter and Dean Rhoads of Elko. Unlike now where members of one party would not be seen with a political opponent, the early days showed the passion of their beliefs on the chamber floor, while afterward, lawmakers from both parties would gather at one of Carson City’s watering holes near capitol and discuss the issues, their communities and families.
After Getto retired from the Legislature in 1992, he returned to his Fallon roots and continued to tend to his dairy herd and farming but he still continued to be involved in the community.
Like those rural lawmakers who passed before Virgil, we will miss the sparkle in his eye and his grin, but most of all his friendship that he afforded to anyone who met him.
Editorials written by the LVN Editorial Board appear on Wednesdays.