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Familiar faces square off in race for Nevada Senate District 21

Constituents of Senate District 21 have been without a representative for more than a year following the resignation of former state Sen. Mark Manendo.

Manendo, whose term was set to expire this year, resigned in the wake of a sexual harassment probe at the close of the 2017 legislative session, and no interim replacement was appointed to the district that covers the eastern Las Vegas Valley and a portion of Henderson.

Democrat James Ohrenschall, a longtime and term-limited assemblyman, is taking advantage of the vacancy to move to a higher state office. Republican Ron McGinnis, on the other hand, is hoping to stop the flood of “career politicians” in his third bid for political office.

“I’m sick and tired of career politicians, and these political machines that have been in existence for years,” said McGinnis, who ran against Manendo in 2014, but lost. “We have the Bush machine, the Clinton machine and we have the Ohrenschall machine in Nevada.”

Ohrenschall doesn’t view it that way.

He said he feels “very lucky” to have represented the constituents of Nevada since 2006 in the state’s part-time citizen legislature.

“I don’t consider it a career,” he said. “My career is working with kids in juvenile court.”

Senate District 21 was created after the 2010 Census, and it leans heavily Democratic, with about twice as many active registered Democratic voters as Republicans. However, the district has more than 14,000 nonpartisan, voters McGinnis will likely need.

Looking forward to the 2019 legislative session, McGinnis, if elected, said he would support a repeal of the commerce tax, a move that Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who is running for governor, wants to make.

“That thing needs to go,” McGinnis said. “Taxes are too high. I want to make it easier for people to start new businesses and expand their businesses. I want to do something about the regulations.”

Ohrenschall supported the commerce tax when it passed in 2015, and said he can’t see himself supporting a repeal.

“Opponents predicted that the sky would be falling, and that hasn’t come to fruition,” Ohrenschall said, adding that he has been endorsed by the Henderson Chamber of Commerce.

McGinnis said he wants to bring a bill to the Legislature that would impose a “congestion tax” on tourists who drive in Las Vegas, rather than using taxi or ride-sharing services. McGinnis previously worked as a taxicab driver.

Ohrenschall wants to see transportation issues fixed in parts of the valley and plans to build upon a bill he sponsored in 2017 that would have directed the Department of Transportation to work with southern Nevada government agencies to conduct an interim traffic safety study. It was vetoed by the governor.

Contact Natalie Bruzda at nbruzda@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3897. Follow @NatalieBruzda on Twitter.

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