Just two months ago, elections were held all over our great country. That includes our state and county. It is no secret now that what I have been calling “the big red wave” washed over our country, state and county. We will come back to all the other elections in a moment, but first let’s talk about the one election we all watched very closely, the election of the Clark County Sheriff. Joe Lombardo was elected Sheriff, as you all know. He edged out the candidate supported by most LVMPD employees, and most of law enforcement around our state as well. I don’t see this outcome as a mandate of the people; rather, I see it as just the opposite.
At the start of the Sheriff’s race, most people in the political business had Larry Burns as a 15- or 20-point underdog. Joe Lombardo had the backing of our current Sheriff, a great campaign team and lots of money. But at the end of the night, Joe Lombardo was elected Sheriff by just about 7,000 votes. This means that Larry Burns’ message and our message got out to the people of Clark County. Morale is at an all-time low and many of the policies of this Department don’t work for the employees or for the public. In short, it is time for change. I believe our new Sheriff is a smart person who will see that this election was closer than most thought it would be, and will strive to set the Department down a path of change that both the employees and the citizens can embrace. Now, I am sure you’re sitting there thinking that this is not the article you had hoped to be reading. But I hope it is the start of our employees, and especially our membership, getting active in the political world that we live in. For the first time that I can remember, you all became a force to be dealt with. You put boots on the ground, put signs in your yards, made calls to your family and friends, and even gave up some of your hard-earned money to support your candidate. Yes, our candidate lost, but because of your involvement, it was a very close race. For this loss to mean anything, you must stay involved. With your support, the PPA endorsement is stronger today than ever before.
Now let’s move on to some of the other election races. It is important that as you read this, you understand that not all Democrats are our friends and not all Republicans are our foes. This is written more about the general agenda of both parties than any one person. On the national level, the Republicans tightened their hold on the House, as well as taking over the majority in the Senate. This will have little effect on our day-to-day lives as police officers. Closer to home, the Republicans also rode “the big red wave” to control our state. This will have an effect on us as public employees, and it could be a devastating effect on our day-to-day lives as police officers. The Republicans took every constitutional office in the state. We, as public safety officers, enjoy an open, healthy relationship with the Governor, as well as the Lieutenant Governor. We also enjoy a good working relationship with the new Senate majority leader, Senator Mike Roberson. We will be depending heavily on those three to help us protect the state laws we need to do our jobs, as well as some of our benefits guaranteed by state law. Why are we going to need help? Well, the Republicans also took over the majority in the state Assembly. In every published statement I have seen so far, the Assembly Republicans are talking about changes to collective bargaining, changes to PERS and changes to many other things we simply cannot accept. We may actually get some help from the Assembly Republicans themselves in a roundabout way — they are having a difficult time organizing their leadership team and can’t find a way to stay out of the press with their own problems.
Regardless, this coming legislative session will be one like no other. I believe that we, as public employees, will be under attack. Public safety associations across the state will be calling on their memberships to attend hearings, make phone calls and generally be active in making your voices heard. Do not lose the momentum you all gained P# 4009 during the Sheriff’s election. Instead, direct it toward another cause — letting the 63 legislators in Carson City know that the sleeping giant has been awakened and will not just sit by and watch what we have earned be taken away, at least not without a fight during the session and in future elections.
The PPA will have a full-time person working on your behalf at the session. But when the call for support comes, you must answer the call and show up. We will do our best to give you as much advance warning as possible about times when we’ll need your help. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or any member of my executive team.
As always, be safe and fight the good fight.
Police Officer Mark Chaparian