Sharon Claassen files for Storey District Attorney

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VIRGINIA CITY -- Sharon Claassen says she wants to keep prosecuting criminals as Storey County's district attorney.

Claassen filed for the position on Tuesday, saying she believes becoming district attorney is the only way she will get to continue handling criminal cases in Storey County.

Currently the deputy district attorney, she handles criminal cases for District Attorney Janet Hess, who is not running for another term.

"I like the job and when my boss decided not to run, I felt that my position was tenuous," she said. "But I love the small-town environment and the history and I enjoy the challenge. There's never a lack of interesting issues in Storey County."

If elected, she doesn't anticipate making any radical changes and she wants to continue prosecuting criminal cases, her primary responsibility under Hess.

She said Storey County faces a broad range of issues concerning everything from a dog ordinance to the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center. The county also has four distinct communities, each with specific needs.

"I want to improve communications, so we can resolve problems before they start," she said.

Drugs and alcohol are major issues and Storey County participates in drug court, an entity designed to help users beat their addiction.

Offenders are sent to Carson City's Western Regional Drug Court, but those in Lockwood are closer to, and might be better served by, Washoe County's system, according to Claassen.

Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center in northern Storey County has the potential to be the largest industrial parks in the nation and with that comes the challenge of burgeoning growth.

"The industrial park creates issues Storey County residents haven't dealt with before, like the recent issues concerning brothels near the park," she said.

"Storey County is going through a transition and things are changing. The people of Storey County are being forced out of a more comfortable style of government and must deal with larger corporations. They're going to have to learn to follow the rules, so they don't have to be afraid when people threaten to sue the county."

Claassen holds a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Nebraska and a law degree from the University of Oklahoma. She moved to Nevada in 1980 after being awarded a fellowship to serve as a staff attorney for Nevada Indian Legal Services.

She served as prosecutor for the Yerington Paiute Tribe and the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony.

A board member of Advocates to End Domestic Violence and the Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence, she participated in the drafting and passage of many of the laws protecting victims of domestic abuse.

She was president of the First Judicial Bar Association in 1989 and a member of the Executive Council of the Young Lawyers section of the Nevada Bar. She held the conflict contract for the Lyon County public defender and was part of the coalition of attorneys awarded the first conflict contract for Carson City.

She left private practice in 1994 to become a deputy public defender, a position she held until 1998, when she became Storey County deputy district attorney.

She is admitted to practice in federal district court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and this year received a Pro Bono Award and congressional recognition for her work with Volunteer Attorneys of Rural Nevada.

Divorced, Claassen makes her home in Carson City with her 13-year-old daughter, Amber.


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