Heller files for third term
Secretary of State Dean Heller filed his candidacy Friday for his third term in that office, saying he would continue efforts to increase voter participation and improve campaign finance reporting.
Heller also served notice, however, that when he completes his tenure as secretary of state, he intends to seek higher public office.
Heller, 42, declined to speculate on what office he might be most interested in four years from now. “I’m going to concentrate on this office.”
But he made it clear he intends to continue his political career after finishing as secretary of state.
Under term limits, he is eligible for one more term in that office.
He said one of his biggest concerns is chronically low voter turnout. He said only half of Nevadans eligible are registered to vote and only half those actually voted in the last elections.
“The key to voter turnout is voter confidence,” he said, adding that low confidence in the system also reduces the number of good candidates willing to run. “The key to voter confidence is good solid races and disclosure of where campaign contributions come from.”
Heller said the important races for drawing voters are those for president, governor or mayor.
“If Gov. Guinn gets a free ride, that’s going to lower voter turnout,” he said. “A lack of good solid races — incumbents getting free rides — is going to lower voter turnout.”
He said he will continue to work on toughening laws requiring disclosure of who contributes how much to which candidates and causes so voters are better informed.
Heller said the 18-25 year old voters are the most difficult to get interested in participating and yet are the people who tell him they never get what they need from lawmakers and the government.
“I stress to them they have the most to lose in the process because those who don’t participate get punished,” he said.
In addition to elections, the Secretary of State’s Office is responsible for most business filings, registrations and licenses at the state level. In that capacity, it’s fees contribute more than $30 million a year to the state treasury.
Heller said that part of the office has grown 5-8 percent every year except last year when the recession took its toll on corporate filings.
Even so, he said, the office will bring in more money because lawmakers sharply increased many of the fees he assesses.
This year, he said, corporate filings are up somewhat again and the combination should increase the Secretary of State’s contribution to the general fund to more than $50 million.
Heller was raised in Carson City. Before his election as secretary of state, he served two terms in the Nevada Assembly.