Term-limit Controversy Expands

By: Brendan Riley AP
By: Brendan Riley AP

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Two dozen more local board members up
for re-election - even a longtime member of rural Churchill County's Mosquito and Weed Abatement Board - have been challenged by Nevada's top elections official who says they're term-limited.

Secretary of State Ross Miller on Friday circulated names of the latest additions to the a list of officials who have served 12 or more years. He believes anyone elected or re-elected in 1996 has reached the limit - although his view has been challenged in some counties.

The mosquito-weed board member challenged in Churchill County is Hal Newman. Twelve of the officials on the list are in Douglas County, including town board members Randy Slater of Gardnerville and Bruce Jacobsen and Ray Wilson of Minden.

Other newly challenged officials, mainly members of general improvement districts or school or hospital boards, are from White Pine, Washoe, Nye, Lincoln, Storey and Lyon counties.

Earlier, Miller had reviewed the status of some better-known officials and determined they couldn't seek new terms - but in the case of longtime Clark County Commissioner Bruce Woodbury, that county's district attorney wouldn't go along with the secretary of state.

Roger told Miller that he doesn't believe Woodbury, on the commission since 1981, and three other officials are violating state term limits. Roger's decision also favors university regent Thalia Dondero and school board members Mary Beth Scow and Ruth Johnson.

Roger said the state attorney general's advice to Miller appears to be that 1996 doesn't count as the start of the 12-year term-limit period only for state legislators. But he said treating lawmakers differently than the other officials raises a question whether the distinction violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Miller also faced resistance from Washoe County District Attorney Dick Gammick, who said he sees no legal basis to move against Howard Rosenberg of Reno, a university-college system regent who was first elected in 1996.

Under state law, the secretary of state's challenges go to district attorneys in counties where challenged officials live. The local prosecutor then determines whether there's probable cause to pursue the case.

If a court fight develops over any challenges filed by a Monday deadline, the cases could move quickly to the Nevada Supreme Court.
Miller has said the courts are "probably the most appropriate venue" because of varying legal interpretations on term limits.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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