Disputes Over Police Funding, Constable’s Office Influence County Commission Races

Susan Brager

Susan Brager

The Clark County Commission consists entirely of Democrats and will almost surely continue to do so after the fall election, given the registration in their districts. But the primaries will tell us a lot about both the issues and the dirt. Three of the seven seats are up for contention.

In District F, in the southwestern part of town, Susan Brager is running for a second term and faces a primary against Mike Schneider, a former longtime state senator. They have all kinds of legitimate issues to discuss, from transportation to the recent fight over a tax hike to pay for more police—Brager wants a more limited proposal, while Schneider is more inclined to favor what Metro is seeking.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see the police union make its presence felt and to hear Brager be accused of being soft on crime. But that’s a politically risky strategy. Just because the police are an important part of our lives, that doesn’t mean that even in Democratic Clark County, there’s much of a desire to pay for more of them. The police always have been controversial—just another occupational hazard. But recently, that has been true in different ways, from upper echelon salaries to the union’s influence to shootings and the policies related to them. Being ardently pro-cop isn’t a guarantee of political success.

Also running against Brager is Susan Bonaventura, ex-wife of Las Vegas Constable John Bonaventura. Bonaventura and his supporters have jumped into the election fray after the County Commission voted to eliminate his office amid various reports of scandals. The constable filed against Mary Beth Scow in District A, in the southeastern part of the valley, saying that since the commissioners are taking away the jobs in his office, he hopes to do the same to them. Lou Toomin, who works for Bonaventura, is running against Chris Giunchigliani, perhaps the most vocal opponent of the actions of the constable’s office, in District E, in the center of the valley.

Scow suggested the constable’s campaign against her is a “revenge thing,” which may well be true. But people have run for office for that reason for a long time. They also run at times to make a point—to get their issues before the public, or to try to make the public aware of what they see as problems with the incumbent or with the government. To be fair, Toomin has been a regular on the ballot for a quarter of a century, and served in the assembly, while Bonaventura also has run for other offices.

But if the constable’s office is actually an issue, it would be a bigger surprise than any of the challengers connected to that office winning.