PFLAG candidate forum staged in backdrop of same-sex couples marrying

Candidates for local, state and federal offices reduced their campaigns to three minute capsules Thursday at a PFLAG forum in Carson City.

The evening event put on by the organization formerly known as Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays was staged against a backdrop of celebratory comments due to Thursday being the first day of same-sex marriage licenses being issued in the city and state. It opened with Rebecca Palmer, the chapter president, saying some members were missing because they were obtaining such licenses.

In neighboring Washoe County, she said, the offices for licenses was open until midnight to accommodate a rush. She said in Carson City, the office will be open today. And will open from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

“I think it’s fantastic,” Palmer told the Nevada Appeal just before she began the forum.

Janine Comoletti, a PFLAG member and colleague, called it an exciting day. “It’s something we’ve worked very hard for in the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community,” she said.

Candidates in attendance thanked PFLAG for the forum opportunity and some even delved directly into issues of interest to members, but for the most part they stuck to broader issues given the time limitation. Each candidate was allowed the three-minute talk and afterward, the ones who stuck around met with those in the audience in less formal setting.

Mark Krueger and Jason Woodbury, candidates to be Carson City’s district attorney, mainly stuck to citing experience and seeking voters’ support.

Krueger said he’s in the office now and spoke first because he’s in the midst of a sexual assault trial and needed to get back. He said he has prosecuted in 40 jury trials, including capital crimes. Woodbury said he was in the district attorney’s office for four years, handling both criminal and civil work, and has a dozen years in private practice. He pledged to retain personnel, speed the trial process and strengthen public trust.

Neither of the candidates referred to the fact it was the district attorney’s office locally that gave the green light Thursday for Clerk/Recorder Alan Glover to begin issuing marriage licenses to same sex partners. It was on-again, off-again on Wednesday until it became clear U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy had lifted his inclusion of Nevada with Idaho in holding up such a legal green light.

Also speaking were four candidates for Carson City Board of Supervisors, the two candidates for District 40 in the Nevada Assembly, four candidates for Carson City’s School Board of Trustees and others.

Supervisor Karen Abowd stressed her vision to make the city “a drive to, not drive by” community and complete capital projects she has helped spearheaded in her first term. She called herself a bridge-builder and a doer.

Lisa Helget, her Ward 1 opponent, said the one-eighth of a penny tax hike for the capital projects had in a past incarnation been rejected by residents as she called for responsibility and accountability. She said residents should be allowed to vote on such issues and city government must “get the best product for the least amount.”

Supervisor John McKenna cited his background as an accountant, his previous tenure on the school board and his four years on the city governing board. He said when he became a supervisor, the recession meant to avoid laying off firefighters, property taxes had to be raised. So the goal now and going forward is to save money, avoid hiring and retain services. The board has managed to return one fifth of the property tax rate increase and he’s looking to do more.

Lori Bagwell, his challenger from Ward 3, cited her current business status and past work with the state that culminated with her being the deputy director of Corrections. She pledged to “get every penny out of a tax dollar” on behalf of city residents.

P.K. O’Neill, Republican for the Carson City-dominated District 40 legislative seat, talked of his law enforcement background and experience working with legislators. He said he would work with people in both parties toward state progress.

Dave Cook, Democrat for the District 40 seat, talked of his experience in teaching and broader education issues and advocated funding for both education and senior services. He also spoke directly to the audiences concerns regarding LGBT matters, saying proper education would help combat prejudice.

Also on hand was Krisetn Spees of Incline Village, the Democrat challenging Rep. Mark Amodei in Northern Nevada’s congressional district 2. An attorney, she said she’s a moderate and a listener who would work hard to fully represent voters. She said Amodei “wasn’t representing us” due to missed votes, though she acknowledged health issues were partly the cause.


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