ANOTHER OPINION: Tomorrow, Nevada gets fresh perspective on governor's office

On Monday, Gov. Jim Gibbons' one-term regime ends at the Nevada statehouse, while a new leader to the governor's office takes his oath as the Silver State's new commander-in-chief.

Hopefully, Gov.-elect Brian Sandoval will bring a fresh perspective to the office, something that lacked from the last occupant.

Although Gibbons was a better lawmaker when he served five terms in the House of Representatives, his four-year tenure at the Capitol was marked by public feuds and swashbuckling arrogance from a man elected by the people, not appointed by an inner circle of advisers.

In fairness to Gibbons, he - along with 2 million other Nevadans - didn't see such a draconian recession coming and the effects it has had on the Silver State. Yet, during his tenure, Gibbons feuded with members of his own party and the Democrats, and very rarely reached across party lines for any resolution to a problem the state faced.

When the state's economy began to tank, Gibbons held steadfast, refusing to engage the Legislature.

Guy Rocha, a Nevada historian and former state archivist, called the governor a "one trick pony" who may be remembered as an "ideologue who generally stuck by his guns and didn't do much to address the problem."

Dan Burns, the governor's communications director, said Gibbons never wavered from his beliefs.

"He always stands up for what he believes in," Burns said. "That has probably played a part in his demise."

He clashed with then-Chancellor Jim Rogers of the university system, disagreeing with the amount of funding the state's universities and colleges should receive; he and ex-State Senate Republican leader Bill Raggio didn't see eye-to-eye on legislation; as commander-in-chief, he refused to attend a change-of-command ceremony for the outgoing adjutant general; he did not conduct regularly scheduled press conferences and refused to release his schedule for public events, and he became the first governor in office to divorce.

But Gibbons is soon to be history, and Sandoval takes the oath on Monday.

The newly elected governor has appeared to be open and ready to tackle Nevada's economy, already facing a $1 billion to $3 billion deficit, depending on what figures are used. Already, Sandoval has painted himself into a corner by making a pledge not to raise taxes or fees.

But saying and doing may be two different things. Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, the State Senate's new minority leader, said both the Senate and Assembly will be busy when the session opens Feb. 7.

"We will look at everything from tweaking programs to making them work more efficiently," he said. "Some taxes scheduled to sunset may be extended, but we see them as temporary solutions until the economy comes back."

McGinness said he and other legislators do not want to take tax incentives away from the counties or to take more money away from the fund that reimburses rural hospitals for indigent emergency care.

And that's only the tip of decisions to come.

We are hopeful lawmakers from both sides of the aisle and the governor will work together to make the state solid again as they wrestle with the next budget and not take the attitude of gutting everything in sight they do not like.

Communication will be the key, not only among themselves but also with their constituents.

• This editorial was first published in the Lahontan Valley News.


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