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2 Democrats appointed to vacant seats in Nevada statehouse

February 3, 2021 GMT

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Clark County commissioners on Tuesday appointed a disabilities advocate and a recent graduate of a University of Maryland master’s program to fill two vacant seats in the state Legislature.

Nevada law gives county commissions the responsibility to appoint members of the same party to legislative seats if they become vacant before an elected representative’s term ends.

State Sen. Yvanna Cancela resigned in January to accept a position in President Joe Biden’s Department of Health and Human Services.

Assemblyman Arthur Assefa resigned a day later amid an investigation into his campaign filings, including whether his primary residence was in the district. Assefa said he initially misunderstood the law but later determined his residency violated it after deeper review. Charges have not yet been filed against Assefa.

Las Vegas native Fabian Doñate, 24, will succeed Cancela in Senate District 10, which covers part of the Las Vegas Strip. Doñate graduated from University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2018 and recently received a master’s degree in health care administration from the University of Maryland, where he also worked in fundraising. In 2020, he volunteered on the Biden campaign’s national health policy committee.

In a statement following his appointment, he said his background in public health and first-hand experience helping his father navigate Type 2 diabetes would inform his work in Carson City.

In his application, Doñate told the commission his father was a lifelong member of the Culinary Workers Union Local 226, which represents many casino and resort workers in the district. The union’s Secretary-Treasuruer Geoconda Argüello-Kline praised his appointment as “the right choice” in a statement.

Tracy Brown-May, 53, will succeed Assefa in District 42, which contains the Spring Valley area. Brown-May leads advocacy efforts at Opportunity Village, a Las Vegas-based non-profit that provides resources and support for people with intellectual disabilities, and helped found A Team NV, which also works on employment, housing and civil rights for people with disabilities. She registered as a lobbyist for both organizations in Carson City in 2019.

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“I do not take this charge lightly and I am ready to put my years of experience advocating for people with disabilities to work immediately.” Brown-May said in a statement.

The appointments give Democrats a 12-9 advantage over Republicans in the state Senate and a 26-16 advantage in the Assembly.The terms of Brown-May and Donate will end in 2022.

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Sam Metz is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.