University of Denver

Longtime Nevada Senator and Transparent Courthouse® Award Recipient William J. Raggio Will Be Missed

Former Senior Director

Nevada Senator William J. Raggio died on February 23. He was in Australia with his wife, Dale, when he suffered a respiratory ailment. He was 85.

Senator Raggio was a 2010 IAALS Transparent Courthouse® Award recipient, along with his fellow Nevadan former Assembly Speaker Barbara E. Buckley. IAALS chose Senator Raggio because of his extraordinary efforts to promote a judicial selection system in Nevada that would assure impartiality and accountability. IAALS worked closely with the senator in 2010 on a ballot initiative in Nevada that would have changed the process for choosing state judges. When he received the Transparent Courthouse® Award, Senator Raggio said, “IAALS has certainly been a very powerful advocate for reforming our methods for judicial selection...I’m very honored and humbled to be one of your recipients tonight.”

Raggio was the longest-serving senator in Nevada history. The Las Vegas Sun described him as a “strong, gifted leader who knew how to get things done as well as, if not better than, anyone. No one seemed to be able to outmaneuver Raggio.”

The Sun tribute continued, “One of the things that set him apart from some of the current generation of Republicans was his willingness to work with Democrats and political opponents to make things happen. He was a man who understood that politics was about possibilities — not perfection.”

Senator Raggio was born in Reno in 1926. He served as Washoe County district attorney for 12 years before being elected to the Nevada Senate in 1972. He retired from the Nevada Legislature last year having served there for 38 years.

IAALS extends condolences to his family and friends, and we mourn the passing of a friend and advocate for positive change.