Jacobsen says he loves to run for office
It was location, location, location for Republican Sen. Lawrence Jacobsen this week, as he sat in as acting governor while Gov. Bob Miller was out of town.
As president pro tempore of the Senate, Jacobsen is second in line to stand in for the governor behind Lt. Gov. Lonnie Hammargren. He has stood in for the governor five times prior to this, and said he receives no pay for the job.
“It’s just part of politics,” he said. “No one forces you to run for office. I love it.”
The Minden Republican is currently running for his 14th term in public office since 1962, making him the longest serving legislator in Nevada history. He has served eight 2-year terms in the state Assembly and five 4-year terms in the state Senate. Only once has he run unopposed.
This year, his opponent is Douglas County school board member Don Forrester, also a Republican.
The Senate seat Jacobsen has occupied since 1979 covers the Western Nevada Senatorial District, a diverse population including Douglas County and parts of Carson City, Lyon and Washoe counties.
n Unique challenge. All of Lake Tahoe in Nevada is included within the district’s boundaries, as well as rural areas such as Smith Valley and Carson Valley, giving senators representing this district a unique challenge, both candidates agree.
“I’d like to see the districts be made up of more whole counties,” Jacobsen said. “This district is all chopped up.”
The pay for the position of state senator is $135 per day for a maximum of 60 days, which totals $8,100 per session. When the legislative session, which in Nevada is every other year, goes over 60 days, representatives work for free except for a $35 per diem allotment, he said.
The 77-year-old Jacobsen is proud of his record of the past 36 years and says he is a public servant who is active even when the Legislature isn’t in session.
“In the interim periods I have toured the prisons and youth facilities including China Spring,” he said. “I have worked with inmate crews for thousands of hours over the years.”
Jacobsen’s 52 years with the Douglas County Fire Department have made him keenly aware of the issues involving fire in the desert. To help with reseeding following wildfires, he created a seed bank where native plant seeds are gathered and stored to be used for reseeding in the event of a fire.
Jacobsen said education has been one of his most important priorities in his years in the Legislature.
“I’m a charter member of the (Douglas County School District) Education Foundation and past president of the Carson Valley PTA,” he said.
One of the practices the PTA implemented in the Valley when Jacobsen was involved, was to have every elected official be teacher for a day and then spend the lunch hour discussing the experience with the class’s regular teacher.
“We don’t do this any more, but I wish we did,” he said. “I enjoyed it. It was a very informative experience for everyone.”
n Native son. Jacobsen is a native of Carson Valley, graduated from Douglas High School in 1939 and went into the U.S. Navy, where he witnessed and survived the attack on Pearl Harbor at a young age. When he returned to the Valley, he worked as an iceman for Carson Valley Ice and then operated Jacobsen Distributing, selling ice, wood, coal and heating oil to resident customers. In 1954, he became a Union Oil distributor and continued with that company until he retired around the age of 65.
Jacobsen is active in many Carson Valley service clubs and holds a record for 47 years of perfect attendance in the Rotary Club. He and his wife of 47 years, Betty, raised four children, Bruce, Gary, Susan and Tim, ranging in age from 37 to 44. Now, the couple puts up their own campaign signs, tending to them often throughout the election season, putting them up when they fall down, which isn’t all that rare, he said.
“We enjoy going out together and putting up the signs,” he said. “We do a few, then go have a cup of coffee.”
Some people close to Jacobsen have expressed concern that he might be too tired to effectively serve another 4-year term, especially after having a quintuple heart bypass this past year.
n Busy day. His schedule on Monday, Oct. 5 might put those concerns to rest.
Shortly after midnight, he was a witness to the execution of Roderick Abeyta at the Nevada State Prison in Carson City. Jacobsen was there as acting governor, on hand in case a last- minute appeal was requested by the convict and a governor’s stay-of-execution was needed.
“I thought the whole system worked very well, but I couldn’t get to sleep that night,” he said, explaining that he’d arrived home to Minden at 1:15 a.m.
Jacobsen participated in a candidates’ forum in Reno and had to be there by 9 a.m., so he was up at 6 a.m. to get ready. The forum ran until 2 p.m.
The senator then traveled to the governor’s office in Carson City to sit in as governor until 5:30 p.m.
After that, he stopped off for a quick bite and another obligation and that evening, and then attended the Day of Unity candlelight vigil parade for domestic abuse awareness in Gardnerville, walking from Lampe Park to the Family Support Council building.
“It was an interesting day,” Jacobsen said. “I go steady. I can do another four years.”
n Experience counts. “Jake,” as friends call him, says there is no substitute for experience in the Legislature and becoming familiar with both the system and the people in it.
“There’s nobody better to judge you than your peers,” he said. “I am fortunate in that I have been around for so long that I can pick up the phone and call most anyone I need to talk to and use their first name.”
In the end, Jacobsen said, the most important quality he has to offer voters is experience.
“Seniority is important in the Senate,” he said. “I wouldn’t be on the finance committee without it. I have also served on 25 other committees. I have experience, but I’ve always felt that if people don’t want me in office, I don’t want to be there.”
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