[13 to watch in 2013]

Marilyn Kirkpatrick, Nevada Assembly Speaker

State Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick doesn’t sleep, so she’s got plenty of time to whip things into shape.
Photo: Leila Navidi

Marilyn Kirkpatrick is ready to get to work. In fact, she’s ready for the whole Nevada Assembly to get back to Carson City and “down to business.” She was ready yesterday—and the 2013 legislative session doesn’t begin until February 4.

That’s just Kirkpatrick’s style. The incoming Assembly speaker is a self-proclaimed policy wonk and a fan of hard work and direct conversation who believes in giving respect to the other side’s opinions, whether or not she agrees with them. In other words, she’s not your usual politician.

A Western High alum, Kirkpatrick came from what she calls a broken home and legally emancipated herself at 16, renting a room in Downtown Las Vegas and working nights so she could go to school during the day. Kirkpatrick got her first taste of politics as a waitress serving judges, senators and district attorneys and jawing with them over the issues of the moment. After serving on the PTA and North Las Vegas Planning Commission, Kirkpatrick won election to the Assembly in 2005. Eight years later, the outspoken Democrat says she’s ready to see the Assembly take on issues including tax structure and education funding and that she’s prepared to drive more direct discussion than is normally seen in the capital.

“I don’t ever sleep, so we’ll have lots of time to have conversations,” Kirkpatrick says. “I think you’ll see people working harder in those first 40 days than you have in a long time.” Even over the phone, you can tell she’s smiling.

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