Assembly District 40 has a race

Carson City resident Tom Keeton announced Thursday he will challenge incumbent Bonnie Parnell for her Assembly District 40 seat in the Legislature.

Keeton, 69, ran an unsuccessful campaign for mayor in 2000, but he said he has learned a lot since then about Carson's politics.

"That was a totally different office," he said. "I waited too long to get started, and I didn't really cover the city like I should have on foot talking to people. I have had so much more involvement in the city's political atmosphere that I feel an awful lot of people know me that didn't before."

Parnell, a Democrat, confirmed Thursday she plans to seek a third term. Parnell, a former Eagle Valley Middle School teacher elected in 1998, is serving on six interim legislative committees.

"I've enjoyed serving the people of District 40 and would like to continue working on their behalf," she said.

With redistricting giving District 40 more Carson City territory, Keeton, a Republican, said he thinks he has a good chance of taking the office. A former advertising manager for the Lockheed Corp., Keeton moved to Carson City with his wife, Kaye, in 1997. The Keetons are the parents to Susan, of Olympia, Wash. and Bruce, of Carson City. They have two grandchildren.

Keeton has become a fixture at local government meetings and was a regular at the Legislature while it was in session this year. He was recently appointed to the city's parks and recreation commission and serves on the city's economic development corridor strategies task force.

"I have a great interest in Carson City," he said. "I picked it for my hometown in my later years, and I feel there are many things in the Legislature I can contribute to that will help the city directly."

Keeton said the 2003 Legislature will be "very important for taxes." Monitoring whatever direction the governor chooses to go "requires a little more Republican attitude than Democrat," he said.

He would also like to see legislators find more creative ways to address funding Nevada's public education system and its "unconscionable" high school drop-out rate. He said in both cases, legislators need to look for causes and solutions to the problems causing crisis in Nevada's school systems before throwing funding into programs that aren't operating efficiently.

He thinks legislators from Carson and Lyon, Storey and Douglas counties should create a coalition to put state pressure on the Nevada Department of Transportation to hasten the construction of the Carson City freeway.

Keeton also said he thinks cities and counties should be given more ability to decide their own levels of taxation. During the 2001 legislative session, Keeton said the state levied or discussed imposing too many unfunded mandates on local governments.

"There are areas where I feel the state intrudes too much," he said. "It's Big Brother making the decisions for city and counties that they are better able to make for themselves. I find it almost ludicrous that the state decides how much we can pay our mayors and supervisors. Who is better to say if they deserve a raise? We should decide that."


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