Joe Neal
Democrat for Governor

A Fair Deal for Nevada

1998 Biography of Senator Joe Neal

An American Dream

Sen. Joe Neal (D-North Las Vegas), has lived in Nevada for 44 years. Recently widowed, he lost his wife to breast cancer after 32 years of marriage. He is the father of five and grandfather of five. After 25 years in personnel administration, he retired as assistant to the general legal counsel of Reynolds Electrical & Engineering Company, Inc.

A Louisiana native, he graduated from Southern University in 1963 with a degree in political science and history. He did postgraduate work in law. He is also a graduate of the Institute of Applied Science in Chicago, Illinois, where he studied civil identification and criminal investigation. He currently teaches constitutional democracy at Community College of Southern Nevada.

A Las Vegas elementary school bears his name. In 1992, he received the prestigious Elijah Lovejoy Award from the Elks Grand Lodge. The award was named for the pre-Civil War newspaper editor who opposed slavery. One night, a mob came to his newspaper building. Lovejoy was murdered and his printing press thrown in a nearby river.

Previous recipients include the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., United Nations official Ralph Bunche, Soprano Marian Anderson and United States Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Neal, 62, served four years in the United States Air Force and has been a member of the Nevada State Senate since first elected in 1972.

During his quarter-century in the legislature, he has served on every committee save government affairs. He has chaired both the Human Resources and Natural Resources committees and has been a member of the powerful Finance Committee.

In 1991, he was elected by the full Nevada State Senate (both Democrats and Republicans) as Senate President Pro-Tem. In that Constitutional position, he served as acting governor in 1991.

During the 1980 special legislative session, he presided over a joint session of the Nevada State Senate and Nevada State Assembly to ratify the California-Nevada Tahoe Regional Planning Compact. He currently serves on the prestigious Legislative Commission which acts on legislative matters between sessions.

Government Service

  • Nevada Senate, 1973-98, three special and 13 regular sessions. His current term expires in 2000.
  • Presided over special legislative session on Lake Tahoe bi-state compact, 1980
  • Member, Interim Finance Committee, 1985-86
  • Assistant Majority Floor Leader, 1985
  • Assistant Minority Floor Leader, 1987
  • Minority Floor Leader, regular session, 1989
  • State Senate President Pro Tempore, 1991
  • Acting Governor of Nevada, 1991
  • Current interim committee assignments
    • Legislative Commission and its Audit Subcommittee
    • Committee to Review Regulations
    • Legislative Commission Utility Oversight Committee


  • Order of Elks Lodge No. 1508
  • Clark County Democratic Central Committee;
  • Nevada State Democratic Central Committee
  • Phi Beta Sigma
  • Member and past Chairman, Clark County Economic Opportunity Board

Personal and Professional Achievements

  • Past Chairman, Greater Las Vegas Plan
  • Civil Liberty Award, American Civil Liberties Union-Nevada
  • Elijah Lovejoy Award, Order of Elks Grand Lodge IBPOEW
  • Lifetime Commitment Award, Nevada AFL-CIO
  • Lifetime Achievement Award for Public Service, NAACP Reno-Sparks Branch #1112

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