Two more join race for Ward 2 council seat

by Benjamin Spillman

Two more candidates with law-and-order experience, albeit from different sides of the system, jumped into the Las Vegas City Council Ward 2 special election race Wednesday.

Bob Chinn, a retired Metropolitan Police Department captain, and Kristine Kuzemka, a public defender, were the last of nine to file candidacy papers seeking to replace Councilman Steve Wolfson, who was appointed Clark County district attorney.

Chinn, 53, who once oversaw the Police Department's homeland security and vice and narcotics bureaus, has been telegraphing his pending candidacy for weeks. He presents himself as a contrast to "political insiders and career politicians already lining up for the seat."

It's a not-so-subtle swipe that could cover experienced candidates such as Bob Beers, a former state legislator, and City Hall regulars, such as Ric Truesdell, a planning commissioner who is touting in campaign literature his relationships with Mayor Carolyn Goodman and her husband, former Mayor

Oscar Goodman, among others in the crowded race.
"I think people are tired of handpicked insiders and perennial candidates," Chinn said in announcing his candidacy.

He is getting organizational support from a former campaign confidant to both Goodmans, political strategist Jim Ferrence.

Kuzemka, 49, who filed just minutes before the 5 p.m. deadline, was the third woman to join the race and has backing from Emerge Nevada, an organization that recruits and trains female Democratic candidates.

Accompanied at filing by Erin Bilbray-Kohn, Emerge Nevada's executive director, Kuzemka said she would use the council seat as a platform to attract more business to Las Vegas. "I hope we are coming out of this bad economic cycle. I would like to see Las Vegas draw in more business," Kuzemka said.

Bilbray-Kohn said that if Kuzemka wins, she would be the first openly gay person to serve on the City Council.

Kuzemka said she and her partner, Nancie O'Neill, were the third couple to register on Nevada's same-sex partner­ship registry established in the 2009 legislative session. "I hope that doesn't become something that defines my campaign," Kuzemka said. "I'm a lawyer, I'm a daughter, I'm an aunt."

She is also a 2010 Las Vegas justice of the peace candidate who, though she lost the election, was a proficient fundraiser, raising more than $86,000 for the race, with $11,000 in loans from herself and O'Neill.

In addition to Kuzemka, Chinn, Beers and Truesdell, several other candidates filed for the race.
They include Anthony Ruggiero, 47, who is on unpaid leave from his job as assistant to Mayor Pro Tem and Councilman Stavros Anthony; Bruce Gale, 57, an attorney and former certified public accountant; Fayyaz Raja, 60, a real estate investor; Roberta Boyers, who once served on the now defunct Board of Zoning Adjustment, and Sherese Holmes.

The position has an annual salary of $72,742.
Ward 2 covers the southwest part of the city roughly from U.S. Highway 95 in the north to Sahara Avenue in the south and Las Vegas Boulevard in the east to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in the west.
The winner will serve until June 2013, which is the end of what was Wolfson's term.
The election is scheduled for March 20, with early voting March 15-16.

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