Willie Edwards, president and founder of the consulting business Smoke-FreeUSA.com, Monday became the first Democrat to run against Lynn Hettrick since 1994.
He said he saw while he was Nevada's tobacco chief how powerful lobbyists were able to put through special interest legislation despite the objections of local communities.
"The State Legislature and State Boards are steadily usurping the power of local government through a one-size-fits-all mandate," he said.
Edwards said he doesn't have as much money as Hettrick but that he plans to go door-to-door through the entire Douglas County and South Carson City district to ask for voter support.
"I need to know what's important to voters," he said. "In return, voters need to know that their candidates for public office are committed to representing them - not some powerful lobbying group."
He said he can do a better job representing quality-of-life issues and important to Douglas County residents, including support for programs to protect Lake Tahoe, open space initiatives in Carson Valley and clean air.
And he said he will be an advocate of increased autonomy for local government.
It is his first run for public office.
Hettrick filed Monday for his fifth term in office. He is Republican minority leader in the Nevada Assembly.