Incumbent lawmakers easily reclaim seats in Western Nevada |

Incumbent lawmakers easily reclaim seats in Western Nevada

Incumbent legislators serving western Nevada cruised to re-election victories Tuesday.

Capital Sen. Mark Amodei, Assemblywoman Bonnie Parnell and Yerington’s Tom Grady all had substantial leads over their opponents as of press time.

Republican Amodei was leading Independent American candidate Ike Yochum by an 80-20 margin in his bid for a third term representing the Capital Senatorial District. And since it was discovered just a couple of weeks ago Yochum doesn’t actually live in the district, he couldn’t have taken the state Senate seat even in the unlikely event he won.

Grady, also a Republican, was leading Democrat Cathylee James by a near 2:1 margin in District 38 representing Lyon, Storey and part of Carson City. It is his third term as well.

Parnell, a Democrat, had a 15 percentage-point lead over Republican Sheila Ward in her bid for a fourth term representing District 40.

All three said a key issue facing them in the 2007 Legislature will be water.

“In our area it’s growth,” Grady said, “which is water issues and education.”

Parnell said the challenge will be to “find a balanced way of looking at water, to look how much our state can grow population wise and how much water we have to do that.”

Amodei, too, said a balance must be struck between the needs in existing urbanized areas and the future needs of rural areas.

Grady said growth along the Highway 50 corridor will need more water, as will growth in Churchill County.

Parnell, chairwoman of the Assembly Education Committee, said it’s also time this session to focus on the problems and needs of secondary public schools.

“What do we do to keep kids in schools, increase the graduation rate and decrease the drop out rate,” she said. “We haven’t paid enough attention to that.”

Amodei said fixing problems with the public employee benefits system is high on his list. But he added the lawmakers need to prepare for the impact of term limits on the Legislature since he and all other members of leadership will be prevented from running again in two years.

In District 39, Republican rancher and fifth generation Settelmeyer was well on his way to replacing Hettrick who retired this year.

Settelmeyer, 35, held a 2:1 lead over Democrat JoEtta Brown the whole night.

He said he wants to use some of the surplus cash in the state treasury to take care of future obligations such as the unfunded liability for health benefits promised retired state workers.

But he too said in an earlier interview water will be a huge issue this coming session.

“We need to manage growth intelligently, and that includes water,” he said.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.