by Scott Neuffer

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June 12, 2012
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Challengers lead incumbents in assembly, commission race

Update: With early voting and eight precinct results in for Douglas County, challengers Jim Wheeler and Barry Penzel were leading in their respective races in early and absentee voting.

Wheeler has 2,182 votes to Assemblyman Kelly Kite's 1,743 votes. Gary Schmidt is trailing with 1,155 votes. Douglas County is not the only jurisdiction in the Assembly race.

Because there is an Independent American running in the Assembly race, the winner of the Republican primary will be the only person going on to the general election.

Challenger Penzel is leading District 5 commissioner Mike Olson 2,220 votes to 1,856, with 735 votes cast for Dianne Humble.

The top two vote-getters will go on to the general election in November.

Dave Cook and Donna Clontz are the leaders in State Board of Education District 2, according to the Nevada Secretary of State's Office.

Cook is leading with 10,642 votes, and Clontz has 9,656 votes. The two leaders will go on to the general election.

Ron Knecht is leading Michon Mackedon statewide, but trailing her in Churchill County. Both candidates are leading "Old Rick" Riendeau, who withdrew from the race.

If bickering politicians have become the disconcerting norm this election season, voters themselves appear to have hefted the mantle of civility.

Across Carson Valley on Tuesday, a committed, if small, group of citizens brought their diverse concerns to the polls, casting ballots in a number of primary races. Missing in their general demeanor, however, was the caustic negativity that has characterized one attack ad after another.

"My biggest concern right now is the animosity of our elected officials," said Johnson Lane resident Susan Joseph-Taylor, "instead of listening to the people and compromising."

Joseph-Taylor, 57, was on her way to work early Tuesday, but democracy was important enough to make a stop at the volunteer fire station off Stephanie Way.

"I've never missed an election," she said. "I take our responsibility to our country very seriously."

While undoubtedly devoted to the electoral process, Joseph-Taylor seemed exasperated by politicians.

"I don't like where our politics is heading, but that doesn't mean I won't participate," she said.

Johnson Lane residents Keith Hill, 55, and Grace Hill, 58, cast their votes before beginning a very significant day. Out of work for months, Grace was heading to Sparks with her husband for a job interview.

"It's the only voice we have," she said of voting. "These people are supposed to represent us."

Grace said her priorities in the primary election were supporting incumbent Dean Heller for U.S. Senate and also narrowing the field for the University Board of Regents and State Board of Education.

"They control a lot of what goes on in the schools," she said.

Keith said that when it came to local elections, he supported people he felt represented the interests of the Valley but also were accessible to individual voters.

Two Republican primaries centered on Assembly District 39 and Douglas County Commission District 5.

"I you don't vote, then you can't complain," Keith Hill said. "There is no reason to say you're unhappy if you don't vote. It's our right. Not everyone in the country has that right. If you vote, then you feel you can call the person, ask why they're doing something, and have them explain it to you. If you don't vote, then you have no say."

At the volunteer fire station in Gardnerville, Jennifer Wilson, 33, was also punching her preferences into a ballot before going to work.

"One big city limits the amount of Coke you can drink, then who knows?" she said, referring to New York City's recent effort to ban large sodas in certain locations.

For Wilson, the primary election, and the upcoming general election, is about money and how it's being spent.

"It starts in your hometown," she said. "You have to look at the effects on everyone here and now, and then the bigger picture - the domino effect."

Voters weren't the only ones upholding a polite and orderly process. Employees from various county departments, along with dozens of volunteers, manned the actual polling stations.

One such volunteer was Jacks Valley resident Brenda Robertson, 70, who was working a table in downtown Gardnerville. She said she's worked the last six elections.

"I like to volunteer and give back to the community," she said.

Like the citizens who turned out Tuesday, Robertson said one's vote is essential.

"It's the only way to have a say in what happens in your community, in your state, and in the country," she said. "It's really important to have a voice."

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The Record Courier Updated Jun 13, 2012 12:13AM Published Jun 12, 2012 08:14PM Copyright 2012 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.