Steve Sisolak

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Steve Sisolak
Steve Sisolak 2020 (portrait crop).jpg
30th Governor of Nevada
Assumed office
January 7, 2019
LieutenantKate Marshall (2019–21)
Vacant (since 2021)
Preceded byBrian Sandoval
Chair of the Clark County Commission
In office
January 7, 2013 – January 7, 2019
Preceded bySusan Brager
Succeeded byMarilyn Kirkpatrick
Vice Chair of the
Clark County Commission
In office
January 3, 2011 – January 6, 2013
Preceded bySusan Brager
Succeeded byLarry Brown
Member of the Clark County Commission
from district A
In office
January 5, 2009 – January 7, 2019
Preceded byBruce Woodbury
Succeeded byMichael Naft
Member of the Nevada Board of Regents
from the 2nd district
In office
January 1, 1999 – December 31, 2008
Preceded byMaddy Graves
Succeeded byTheresa Malone
ConstituencySubdistrict G
Personal details
Born (1953-12-26) December 26, 1953 (age 67)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
  • Dallas Garland
    (m. 1987; div. 2000)
  • Kathy Ong
    (m. 2018)
Children2 (with Garland)
ResidenceGovernor's Mansion (public)
Spring Valley, Nevada, U.S. (private)
EducationUniversity of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (BS)
University of Nevada, Las Vegas (MBA)
WebsiteGovernment website

Stephen F. Sisolak (born December 26, 1953) is an American businessman and politician serving as the 30th and current Governor of Nevada since 2019. A member of the Democratic Party, he previously chaired the Clark County Commission from 2013 to 2019.

After becoming involved in several civic causes and government projects, Sisolak won election to the Nevada Board of Regents and served from 1999 to 2008. In 2008, he won election to the Clark County Commission and was reelected in 2012 and 2016. In 2018, Sisolak won the Democratic nomination for Governor of Nevada, defeating Clark County Commission colleague Chris Giunchigliani in the primary election. On November 6, 2018, Sisolak defeated Republican nominee, Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt in the general election, becoming the first Democrat serving in the Nevada governorship since Bob Miller left office in 1999.

Early life[edit]

Sisolak was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the son of Mary, who worked at a convenience store and Edward Frank Sisolak (1925–2004), a project engineer for General Motors.[1][2] He is of Slovak descent.[3]

Sisolak earned a B.S. in business from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee in 1974, and an M.B.A. from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 1978. Both of his daughters attended UNLV.[4]


Sisolak is a successful entrepreneur, and was a partner in the American Distributing Company, a venture that sells coffee cups, pens, and other promotional items to businesses, as well as holding a partnership in a second company, Associated Industries.[5]

He began his involvement in elected office by winning a seat on the Nevada Board of Regents in 1998, where he served for 10 years. He was then elected to the Clark County Commission, with his term beginning in 2009.[4] He was elected by his peers as Chair of the Clark County Commission in January 2013.[6]

Nevada Board of Regents[edit]

During his time on the Board of Regents, Sisolak discovered that thousands of Nevada students had been wrongly charged out-of-state tuition and won refunds for these students.[7]

In 2002, Sisolak sided with students and voted against a 16% tuition increase.[8] Sisolak voted against student fee hikes in 2003[9] and 2008.[10]

Sisolak fought to bring back a popular apprenticeship program at the College of Southern Nevada that has been abruptly canceled during the recession.[11]

Clark County Commission[edit]

After joining the commission in 2009, Sisolak was "vehemently opposed to raising property taxes"[12] and property tax rates remained flat during his entire tenure on the commission.[13] Sisolak voted against increasing the county gas tax in 2013.[14] He served as the commission's vice chairman[15] before becoming chairman in 2013.[16]

Sisolak won praise from the conservative Nevada Policy Research Institute for fighting against waste, fraud, and abuse.[3] A spokesperson for the institute said, "His efforts to hold government accountable, especially the firefighters, and look closely at how tax money is being spent should be applauded."[3] Sisolak successfully pushed[17] the Water District to terminate a contract with Wolfgang Puck that was costing taxpayers $600,000 per year.[18] During the recession, Sisolak was a vocal critic of overtime and sick leave abuse,[19] and his efforts resulted in over $7 million in reduced overtime costs[20] and $30 million in reduced disability costs.[21]

Sisolak successfully fought to cut the pay that Clark County Commissioners receive.[22]

Sisolak voted to refund $4.1 million to 1,600 Laughlin property owners who had been overcharged assessment fees.[23]

Sisolak supported the "More Cops" initiative, which added 720 new officers to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department,[24] and Republican Sheriff Joe Lombardo said that these additional police officers helped reduce violent crime 7% in 2018.[24]

Under Sisolak's chairmanship, Clark County opened The Harbor, an innovative juvenile justice resources center that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and has prevented 3,000 youths from entering the criminal justice system.[25]

Sisolak supported bringing the Golden Knights[26] and Raiders to Las Vegas.[27] According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Sisolak was the "driving force" behind getting the Raiders to come to Las Vegas.[28]

In addition to the county commission, Sisolak's other government involvement includes vice president and board of directors member for the Las Vegas Valley Water District and board of directors member for the Southern Nevada Water Authority. He has also served as a member of the Colorado River Commission of Nevada, and vice chair of the board of commissioners for the University Medical Center Of Southern Nevada.[29]

Sisolak is involved with many civic, charitable and business organizations, including the Henderson Chamber of Commerce, the American Red Cross-Clark County Chapter, the UNLV Alumni Association, Seniors United, American Red Cross Leadership Council, Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, Las Vegas Better Business Bureau, the Boys & Girls Club, Hispanics in Politics, St. Joseph Husband of Mary Catholic Church, and the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth.[4]

Governor of Nevada[edit]

Sisolak speaking to the media prior to the 2020 Nevada caucuses


On January 7, 2019, Sisolak was sworn in as the 30th Governor of Nevada.[30]

On May 30, 2019, Sisolak vetoed a bill that proposed the adoption of National Popular Vote Interstate Compact in the presidential elections.[31]

Sisolak has supported expansion of solar energy projects in Nevada.[32]

Political campaigns[edit]


Sisolak first won election as a member of the Nevada Board of Regents in November 1998.[5]


Sisolak won a close race to replace out-going Republican Commissioner Bruce Woodbury in November 2008.[33]


Sisolak won re-election as County Commissioner in November 2012, receiving the endorsement of the Las Vegas Review Journal[34] and Las Vegas Sun.[35]


Sisolak had considered running for Governor of Nevada in 2014,[36] but declined in February 2014.[37][38]


Sisolak won re-election as County Commissioner in November 2016.[39]


Sisolak won the November 6, 2018, general election for Governor of Nevada, winning 49.4% of the vote to Republican Adam Laxalt's 45.3%.[40] Sisolak became the first Democratic governor elected since 1994.

Sisolak was long considered a potential candidate for Governor of Nevada in the 2018 election.[41] Sisolak officially announced his candidacy on June 22, 2017.[42] He defeated Clark County Commission colleague Chris Giunchigliani on June 12, 2018 to become the Democratic nominee for that office.[43] On Tuesday, November 6 he was elected Governor of Nevada. Although he lost all but two county-level jurisdictions, he carried the two largest, Clark and Washoe. He won primarily on the strength of carrying Clark County by 86,600 votes, more than double his statewide margin of 39,700 votes.[44]

Sisolak's campaign priorities were education, healthcare, and the economy.[45] He released a healthcare policy platform that included proposals to reduce pharmaceutical drug prices, fix Nevada's doctor shortage, and protect Nevadans with pre-existing conditions.[46] Sisolak said he wanted to continue Governor Sandoval's Medicaid expansion[47] and new funding for education. Sisolak supported Question 1, also known as Marsy's Law, the crime victims rights bill.[48] Sisolak opposed Question 3, the Energy Choice Initiative.[49]

He was endorsed by former President Barack Obama,[50] then former Vice President Joe Biden,[51] Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, Representative Dina Titus,[52] the Sierra Club,[53] the Human Rights Campaign,[54] Let America Vote,[55] and the Law Enforcement Coalition of Nevada.[56]

Personal life[edit]

Sisolak married in the late 1980s and had two daughters with his wife, Lori "Dallas" Garland. Sisolak and Garland later divorced. Sisolak dated Kathleen Boutin Vermillion, who at the time of her relationship with Sisolak was a Henderson city councilwoman.[3] Shortly after winning the 2018 Nevada gubernatorial election, Sisolak announced his engagement to Kathy Ong, an Ely, Nevada native and girlfriend of five years.[57] On December 28, 2018, Sisolak announced his marriage to Ong.[58][59]

2005 lawsuit against McCarran Airport[edit]

Sisolak, a property owner on Las Vegas Boulevard South, received a total of $23.5 million in 2005 after the airport refused to pay him for height restrictions imposed on a parcel he owned. McCarran officials had warned that paying off property owners who lost land value because of the height restrictions could cost more than $1 billion and make air travel to or from Las Vegas more expensive. Still, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that landowners can seek compensation if planes flying below 500 feet hinder their ability to develop high-rise buildings. Sisolak maintained that his land, acquired before Clark County imposed height restrictions, has been devalued and that he was entitled to compensation.[60][61]

On November 13, 2020, he tested positive for COVID-19.[62]


Airspace litigation 2005[edit]

In 2005, Sisolak won $23.5 million through airspace litigation after an "airport refused to pay him for height restrictions imposed on a parcel he owned."[63]

Domain judgment and Clark County 2006[edit]

Sisolak won a $6.5 million domain judgment from Clark County in 2006.[64]

Clark County Commission and alleged corruption 2009[edit]

In 2009, judge Robert Jones uncovered Clark County Commission's "attempts to direct more than $100 million to unionized Las Vegas Paving" while ignoring Fisher Sand and Gravel's bid—which was $4.6 million lower. He ordered Sisolak and his fellow commissioner Tom Collins "to rescue themselves from the matter" after Fisher's attorney pointed out to their bias in favor of Las Vegas Paving.[65]

Clark County Lawsuit 2019[edit]

Sisolak has been accused by mining corporation Gypsum Resources LLC of engaging in a quid pro quo valued at $150 million during his time as Clark County commissioner chairman.[66] Gypsum claims that at the end of Sisolak’s term as chairman– while running for Nevada Governor – he exchanged political favors with Save Red Rock attorney Justin Jones, who himself was campaigning for a seat on the Clark County commission.[67] Save Red Rock, a nonprofit environmental activist group, has consistently expressed opposition towards Gypsum Resources LLC since their inception. In 2017, they collectively convinced all Clark County planners to reject Gypsum Resources’ latest development proposal.[68] Beginning in December 2016, Save Red Rock has been in an open lawsuit with Clark County, attempting to deny the commission’s approval of Gypsum Resources’ developments in Red Rock Canyon.[69] Conversely, Clark County has attempted to bar Save Red Rock from raising concerns about Gypsum Resources’ development projects at public hearings.[70] This legal battle persisted until the end of 2018, when Save Red Rock suddenly dropped their lawsuit against Clark County.[71] Gypsum Resources claims that this dropped lawsuit was an exchanged favor between Save Red Rock attorney Jones and commission chairman Sisolak. Gypsum alleges that Jones and Sisolak engaged in covert dealings, with Jones agreeing to drop Save Red Rock’s lawsuit and provide Sisolak’s gubernatorial campaign with the support of environmentalist groups if the Clark County commission denied Gypsum Resources’ final appeal to complete their proposed development in Red Rock. The final appeal was scheduled to be heard on December 5, 2018, but this was delayed until 2019 so that “incoming commissioners could weigh in”, according to Sisolak.[66] This action was praised by the Nevada Conservation League and two weeks after this, Save Red Rock officially dropped their lawsuit. Later in 2019, with Jones as the new county commissioner, Clark County denied Gypsum Resources their final appeal waiver.[67] In Gypsum Resources bankruptcy filing, they accuse the county of covering up “facts about governmental misconduct” relating to Jones and Sisolak’s behind the curtain deals.[72] The county ultimately investigated Jones and Sisolak but found no wrongdoing. In this investigation, Jones offered a deposition regarding his communication with Sisolak. While he originally denies any communication with Sisolak prior to his election to commissioner, court documents revealed that they had in fact communicated. Jones details to Sisolak’s campaign manager that it will be “likely uncomfortable” for members of the commission if Gypsum Resources’ appeal is approved.[67] While Clark County has yet to find any wrongdoing, Gypsum Resources maintains the claim that the alleged quid pro quo deal has caused their company’s bankruptcy.

Sisolak's views on sensitive subjects—such as same-sex marriage, guns, and the death penalty—have changed through the years. His answer to a survey titled the Political Courage Test during the 1996 Nevada State Legislative Election, in which he ran for a seat in the State Senate, show that he answered "No" to whether or not should the Nevada Government recognize same-sex marriage, "undecided" to whether or not clinics and medical facilities should get publicly funded to provide abortion services in Nevada, and "undecided" to whether or not should sexual orientation be added to Nevada's anti-discrimination laws. In the same survey, he supported the death penalty, while he didn't support the decriminalization of Marijuana.[73][74]

University of Nevada, Reno[edit]

When he was a Regent at the university, he opposed dropping "Reno" from its name, and supported a uniform marketing of the institution that includes "Reno" saying that without it "the institution was presenting itself as somehow better or more important than its Southern counterpart, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas."[75]

Electoral history[edit]


2018 Nevada gubernatorial election[76]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Steve Sisolak 480,007 49.39% +25.51%
Republican Adam Laxalt 440,320 45.31% -25.27%
N/A None of These Candidates 18,865 1.94% -0.94%
Independent Ryan Bundy 13,891 1.43% N/A
Independent American Russell Best 10,076 1.04% -1.62%
Libertarian Jared Lord 8,640 0.89% N/A
Total votes 971,799 100.00% N/A
Democratic gain from Republican


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External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Member of the Clark County Commission
from District A

Succeeded by
Michael Naft
Preceded by
Susan Brager
Vice Chair of the Clark County Commission
Succeeded by
Larry Brown
Chair of the Clark County Commission
Succeeded by
Preceded by Governor of Nevada
Party political offices
Preceded by
Bob Goodman
Democratic nominee for Governor of Nevada
Most recent
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas Vice President Order of precedence of the United States
Within Nevada
Succeeded by
Mayor of city
in which event is held
Succeeded by
Preceded byas Governor of West Virginia Order of precedence of the United States
Outside Nevada
Succeeded byas Governor of Nebraska