During the fall of 1983, my friend — a journalist, columnist, editor, humorist, speechwriter and political strategist — Chris Schaller introduced me to a man, he cited, as the smartest politician ever. Tom Fettic. And Christy, as you know, had previously worked with some of Nevada’s very best.
Upon Christy’s untimely death, in February 1984, Tom was “politically bequeathed” to me for his ’84 election to the Carson City Board of Supervisors, his ’88 re-election, as well his ’94 election to the Nevada Legislature as our State Assemblyman.
His commitment to fulfill his non-partisan responsibilities to the residents of Carson City, as member of the board was primary. Supervisor Fettic’s view, partisan politics — be damned.
In 1994 “political rocket scientists” on the Carson City Republican Central Committee opposed Tom’s Republican nomination for the State Assembly. Why? Because he had never been an active member of the Committee.
However, the overwhelming rank-and-file of Carson City Republicans didn’t give a tinker’s damn to those hyper-partisan Committee self-proclaimed “theorists.” Why? The rank-and-file knew Tom. They knew his character. They knew the welfare of the community was his primary interest.
After his election to the State Assembly, Tom discussed with me a legislative concept that was of absolute importance to him and Nevada. If he was going to be there, he was going to get something done. And what was to be done — was to be of significance.
His concept: a “dead-beat parent” bill. The failure of parents to be financially responsible for and to their children was primary to him: as a dad; as a former police officer; as a former policy maker for the community; as a resident of Nevada. Dead-beat parenting was, in a word, wrong!
In 1995, the Assembly partisan composition was 21 Republicans and 21 Democrats — a most formidable challenge. We discussed a legislative strategy. This freshman listened. He analyzed. Then he acted.
After reviewing his legislative bill draft he took the advice to seek the timely strategic support of Las Vegas Democrat, freshman Assemblywoman Barbara Buckley. His goal was 42 co-authors — a very rare legislative occurrence, indeed. Buckley signed on at the right time, tactically. As planned, he achieved his goal of 42 co-authors. Accordingly, the Assembly passed Fettic’s “dead-beat parent” bill, 42-0. It passed in the State Senate, 21-0. Fettic’s “dead-beat parent” bill was signed into law by the Governor.
Concluding with Mathew 25:21, may peace be with you, Tom, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Carlson has resided in Carson City for over four decades.