Nevada Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki usually defers to another politician — one who has higher visibility in the state — when he is asked to speak at a community’s annual Republican Lincoln Day dinner.
Krolicki, whose time in office is nearing an end because of term limits, accepted the Churchill County Central Republican Committee’s invitation to speak at Saturday night’s dinner because, as the lieutenant governor said, his 24 years of public service started in Fallon on a day that has been etched in his memory.
A standing ovation that followed several minutes of applause occurred before Krolicki welcomed about 200 people to the Fallon Convention Center, but Krolicki became a little emotional in recounting the events that led him to become a public servant and why the speaking invitation meant so much to him.
“On Sept. 3, 1990, at 12:20 p.m., after the Cantaloupe Festival parade, many of you know the story, some of you don’t,” Krolicki began.
After a campaign stop in Fallon on Labor Day, Krolicki and Judy Seale, along with Bob Seale and Sue Wagner, candidates for state treasurer and lieutenant governor, respectively, left the Fallon Municipal Airport. Within minutes of takeoff, the small plane piloted by Bob Seale crashed, killing Judy Seale, seriously injuring Wagner and throwing Krolicki from the plane onto the sagebrush landscape. Also on board, according to Krolicki was a young lady, Stephanie Tyler, who was a volunteer for Seale’s campaign. Krolicki said she is now the Nevada president of AT&T.
What followed, though, was a heart-warming story of how the people of Churchill County responded.
“This community embraced me, adopted me and never let me go for 24 years,” he said. “You never feel a community embrace you when you go through a tragedy, but I am grateful for all the people in the state … but for the people in Churchill County who took care of us. I am proud to be here as keynote speaker.”
After Seale was elected, Krolicki worked in the treasurer’s office and then ran for the position in 1998. Krolicki ran for lieutenant governor and won in 2006 and was re-elected in 2010.
“I am the first person in Nevada to be term limited twice,” he added.
Krolicki acknowledged U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, a friend for three decades and Congressman Mark Amodei. He also recognized the number of Republicans in attendance who are running for the state’s constitutional offices such as secretary of state, attorney general, treasurer and so on. He acknowledged the contributions of Churchill County’s former Republican leaders to include Virgil Getto and Mike McGuinness.
Krolicki then shifted his remarks to Nevada’s economic development and the sesquicentennial.
“We all in Nevada got spanked very hard in 2008 and 2009,” Krolicki said, referring to the Great Recession. “It took efforts to turn this economy around. Under the governor’s leadership, we have created 50,000 new jobs in Nevada, and unemployment has gone from 14 percent, the highest in the country, to 8.5 percent.”
Krolicki said Nevada, one of six states selected for the drone testing programs, will reap enormous benefits and be a key industry like gaming and mining. He said the program will create 15,000 good paying jobs and the state will see $11 billion in new investment. Furthermore, he said the Fallon Municipal Airport will be on the cutting edge of the drone-testing program.
Krolicki, who also serves as chairman of the Nevada Commission on Tourism, touted the increased number of visitors coming to Nevada.
“Fifty-two million people came to Nevada last year,” Krolicki said, adding the number of international tours is expected to increase from 15 to 25 percent.
He said visitors are not only traveling to Las Vegas and Reno but also are coming out to the rural areas such as Churchill County to experience the cowboy way of life and the hospitality. Krolicki then talked about a passion he has had for years, and that is to bring the Winter Olympics back to the Lake Tahoe area. Squaw Valley hosted the Winter Olympics in 1960.
The U.S. Olympic Committee, according to Krolicki, said its goal is to bring the next Olympics to North America, either in 2024 for the Summer Games or 2026 for the Winter Olympics.
“We’ll fight to get them (Winter Olympics) back to the Lake Tahoe area for the tourism and economic value,” Krolicki vowed.
Krolicki also talked about the Nevada Sesquicentennial activities scheduled until the Silver State’s birthday on Oct. 31.
“We are one of a few states that celebrates its birthday with a holiday,” said Krolicki, who serves chairman of the committee. “We’ll do at least 150 events this year statewide.”
Krolicki revealed the annual Cantaloupe Festival, held in Fallon during the Labor Day weekend, will be part of the official celebration.
“It’s a special part of the fabric of Nevada,” he said of the festival.
With his term nearing an end, Krolicki said it has been an honor for him to be part of the Republican family.
“I may be out of office, but I won’t be going away,” he said to another thunderous ovation.
“We all Nevada got spanked very hard in 2008 and 2009. It took efforts to this economy around. Under the governor’s leadership, we have created 50,000 new jobs in Nevada, and unemployment has gone from 14 percent, the highest in the country, to 8.5 percent.”