LAS VEGAS — A North Las Vegas man with 23 years of public-sector experience will replace expelled Nevada Assemblyman Steven Brooks in the Legislature, capping a weekslong saga that left the district without stable representation.
Clark County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to appoint Odis “Tyrone” Thompson, who works as a regional initiatives coordinator for the Southern Nevada Regional Planning Coalition and previously worked with the state welfare department and county neighborhood services and social services departments.
“I’m also a passionate public servant, not a 9-to-5 guy,” Thompson, 55, told commissioners at the meeting.
The Democrat was one of two applicants recommended by Assembly leaders to take the vacant seat in Assembly District 17, which is almost entirely contained in North Las Vegas and is one of the most diverse in the state. The district has a 24 percent African-American population and a 31 percent Hispanic population.
Thompson, who is black, had the endorsement of the Clark County Democratic Black Caucus, and several other Clark County residents testified Tuesday about his involvement in church and community activities. He said he’s most proud of his work helping two children as part of the Court Appointed Special Advocates program, and of his service in the National Forum for Black Public Administrators, of which he was past president.
He said one of his top policy priorities will be education, and he cited a proposal to update sex education in Nevada schools as one of the most pressing bills weaving its way through the Legislature.
“We need that because in Nevada we have a high pregnancy rate, and we need to inform our students if they’re not getting that education at home,” Thompson told The Associated Press.
Another goal, he said, is to ensure his constituents are prepared to take on some 400 jobs in the state welfare department that are set to come to his district.
“It’s going to be a quick turnaround,” Thompson said about his new post, adding that he plans to head to Carson City over the weekend. “But I’m looking forward to it.”
Thompson’s appointment came after a passionate period of public comment, much of it centered on race.
Yvette Williams, chair of the Clark County Democratic Black Caucus, testified that constituents had elected a black candidate when they chose Brooks, and still wanted an African-American to represent them.
Others, including two representatives from the Latino Democratic Caucus, urged commissioners to select Meli Pulido, a retired City of Las Vegas employee who emigrated from Mexico at age 9 and was also recommended by Assembly leadership.
The other applicants for the seat included Glynn Coleman, Michelle Jotz, Michael Kelly, Mujahid Ramadan, William Robinson II, Kelly Thomas and Brandon Casutt.
Brooks was expelled from the Assembly in an emotional hearing March 28, after fellow lawmakers testified that they didn’t feel safe with him in the legislative building.
He was arrested in January after allegedly making threats against a fellow lawmaker, and arrested again about three weeks later after police say he threw punches and grabbed for an officer’s gun. He also was hospitalized for a mental evaluation following a police encounter that didn’t result in an arrest.
Hours after he was officially ousted from the Legislature, he was arrested in California following a car chase and dramatic struggle with police that was caught on amateur video.
Records show Brooks remained in a San Bernardino County jail Tuesday on charges that include resisting an officer, felony evading and assault on a police animal.