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September 3, 2015

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Mayoral candidates debate jobs, prostitution, homelessness

Mayoral debate

KSNV coverage of Las Vegas mayoral debate, March 4, 2011.

A debate Friday night among six of the 18 candidates for Las Vegas mayor addressed issues from job creation to downtown redevelopment, collective bargaining, school vouchers and the homeless.

The forum was hosted by the Citizen Outreach Foundation and held during its First Friday Nevada event at Stoney’s Rockin’ Country bar. The debate was broadcast by KXNT radio and moderated by talk show host Alan Stock.

Clark County Commissioner Larry Brown, businessman Victor Chaltiel, Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, retired school administrator Carolyn Goodman, businessman George Harris and city Councilman Steve Ross participated.

The remaining 12 candidates — written off as long shots by the nonprofit group — were not invited.

All of the candidates touted job creation and cutting bureaucratic red tape as top priorities for the mayor.

Goodman — followed in agreement by the others — suggested attracting a motion picture studio to Las Vegas to expand its image as the entertainment capital of the world.

Goodman said she was already in talks with movie industry leaders about studio prospects. “It’s not only good for jobs but good for our students who want to learn and do internships,” she said.

Giunchigliani agreed. “We’re the entertainment capital of the world, and we don’t have a studio,” she said.

On another issue, all of the candidates said they opposed legalizing prostitution in the city.

Goodman, who previously said she would consider creating a red light district, called the issue a moot point because it is “not something that a mayor can change in our lifetime.”

Giunchigliani, previously on the fence, agreed with Goodman and said, “We need to stop the wink and the nod” over prostitution in Las Vegas.

Although education is not within the job description of Las Vegas mayor, candidates continued discussing the Clark County School District and raised new points about the merits of allowing a school voucher program.

Brown, Chaltiel, Harris and Ross said they would support school vouchers to give parents more choices. Goodman and Giunchigliani disagreed.

“Our public school system is the worst in the nation. I’ve been screaming about it for 27 years. Finally, I started the Meadows School to show how it’s done,” Goodman said. “Vouchers fix nothing. (They) are just another Band-Aid. Fix the schools.”

Giunchigliani urged open enrollment instead of vouchers.

“This country was founded on free public education for every child. It’s what made America great,” she said, as some in the crowd booed. “Education is not the mayor's job; it’s everybody’s job.”

Toward the end of the debate, candidates were asked how they would address homelessness in Las Vegas.

Brown said he would give resources to Catholic Charities to “save one human being at a time.”

Others spoke in generalities, citing the large number of veterans and mentally ill among the homeless.

“It’s unbelievable that in the richest country in the world, we can’t take care of the poorest and most deprived people in the world,” Chaltiel said. “It’s a tragedy.”

Harris said he would take a tough stance on “entrepreneurial homeless people.”

He said he would charge beggars with vagrancy, jailing them for a night on the first offense. A repeat offender would then get two weeks, then 90 days behind bars, he said. They would eventually leave Las Vegas, he said.

Goodman said she was going to remain realistic. “This all costs money,” she said. “There is no extra money at this point.”

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