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Ex-Air Force lawyer, Boyd grad seeking bench in North Las Vegas

Two men are running to replace Judge Sean Hoeffgen in North Las Vegas Municipal Court Department 2, after he decided not to seek re-election.

Senior deputy attorney general Jason Gunnell and local attorney Courtney Ketter will square off for the seat. Both have lived in the area for more than a decade and are seeking election to the bench for the first time.

Jason Gunnell

Gunnell was originally born in Idaho and attended the Southern Illinois University School of Law.

He spent much of his career as an attorney in the Air Force, serving as a prosecutor and later as a Senior Special Victims’ Counsel. He left active duty in 2015 and settled in North Las Vegas with his family.

He now works in the attorney general’s office, handling a variety of different cases. He said his unique experiences would help him acclimate quickly to work as a judge.

“I’ve had experiences at the federal level, I’ve had experiences at the state level and in the county courts,” he said. “And I want to bring all those skills and everything I have to focus on the city of North Las Vegas and try to make a difference locally. The bigger government you’re in, it’s harder to make a difference.”

Gunnell said he wants to involve local community groups in the court system, and also wants to spend time getting out in the community and help streamline some of the more tedious court processes.

“To get more involved in the community is one of my big goals,” he said. “So, the first time you meet me as a judge isn’t in the courtroom itself. You’ve met me before on the street.”

Courtney Ketter

Ketter has lived in the Las Vegas valley for 17 years, and said running for the position felt like the “next step” for him after years of getting more and more involved in the local community.

“I feel like my personal and professional experience gives me a good skill set to relate well to the people of North Las Vegas,” he said. “And that’s why I’m running.”

Ketter has experience as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney, and he said that’s a key reason why he feels he’s the best person for this job. Originally from Inglewood, California, he graduated from UNLV’s William S. Boyd School of Law and later started his own company, Ketter Law Offices.

If elected, Ketter wants to improve cooperation between different municipal courts in the area, and wants the court to be more accessible.

“I think too often, people kind of have that deer in headlights thing when they go to court,” he said. “There’s a lack of information, a lack of knowledge as far as how the court works. And I think we need to do a better job with that.”

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