Four Republicans are competing in Assembly District 19 to replace incumbent Annie Black, who is running for Congress.
The candidates include parental-rights and education activist Charlie Nicole De La Paz, real estate agent and broker Amy Groves, construction worker and retired Teamster Gerald Swanson, and cop-turned-lawyer Thaddeus “Toby” Yurek.
For the last four legislative sessions, De La Paz has lobbied as a citizen to fund school choice programs, preserve homeschool laws and protect parent voices as the co-founder of the Power2Parent advocacy group.
“It was naturally the next step to run for office, to become a legislator, so that I could continue to be part of solutions,” said De La Paz, 39, a Logandale resident.
Her top priority would be to implement a robust school-choice program, where parents can use public funds to send their children to private schools.
School choice would be “the catalyst to make public schools perform better,” she said. “I’m not anti-public school. I want all choices for all parents. And I just want our public schools to perform better.”
As the owner of a small digital marketing firm, she said she would advocate for business and prioritize rebuilding the economy after pandemic shut-downs.
The governor’s decision to shut down business prompted Groves to get into the race, the Henderson resident said.
“I don’t believe a governor has the right to shut down businesses and shut down people’s livelihoods,” said Groves, 50, who owns and operates property management and real estate brokerage firms.
“People went out of business. People lost their jobs. It was horrifying,” she said. “ I never want to see that happen again.”
The candidate, who ran for the Assembly in 2012, 2014 and 2106, has the endorsement of incumbent Black.
Groves said that people in the district tell her their No. 1 concern is tax increases.
“I promise I will not vote for a tax increase,” she said, and would prioritize repealing the commerce tax.
Safe schools, public safety
Swanson said he entered the race to make the community a better place for his grandchildren and their generation.
“We send our kids to school and we don’t know if it’s going to be safe that day,” said Swanson, 64, who officiates high school sports.
“The education system seems to be broken,” said the Logandale resident, who favors school choice and breaking the school district into smaller districts.
His top priority is protecting the integrity of elections, including requiring a voter ID and providing mail-in ballots only to those who request them.
The avid hunter, who teaches safety classes for the Department of Wildlife, also prioritizes protecting the right to bear arms.
Yurek, who studied for the ministry, served 20 years with the Henderson police department, including as a SWAT commander. During that time, he got a law degree from UNLV. He is now the managing partner of his law firm and represents police officers and first-responders on workers compensation issues.
What drew him into the race was the sentiment arising from Black Lives Matter unrest that “all cops are bad,” which he said is driving good officers out of police work to the detriment of public safety.
“This place needs to stay safe,” said Yurek, 49, who opposes reforms that he believes prioritize criminals over victims and that undermine law enforcement. “Unless we step up and do something to … support our first-responders and police officers, this place is going to go down in a bad way.”
Public safety, not surprisingly, is his core issue.
“I really believe that public safety is one of the primary functions of government,” the Henderson resident said, adding he’s eager to weigh in on issues related to business and education. But he said business and education can’t thrive without safety.