Published Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011 | 1:57 p.m.
Updated Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011 | 3:44 p.m.
A group of North Las Vegas residents plans to start a recall process this week against Mayor Shari Buck, who is halfway into her four-year term.
Jim Olive, vice chairman of the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, said he wants to recall Buck because she and council members Wade Wagner and Pamela Goynes-Brown voted to close recreation centers last week.
Olive said what angered him was that the vote followed a special meeting at which the council unanimously approved a plan to raise recreation center fees to keep them open. Olive, a member of the city’s 2025 Visioning Committee, said he had been in talks with the council for three years discussing ways for rec centers to bring more money to city coffers.
“She voted to close rec centers and that was irresponsible,” Olive said. “Saying ‘yes,’ then turning around and closing the centers, the very tool we need to put that plan into effect.”
Olive also accuses the city of looking the other way as Assistant Fire Chief John Oceguera drew part of his North Las Vegas salary while serving in the Legislature. Oceguera worked nine hours a week as a firefighter while taking 18 hours of vacation and nine hours unpaid leave, while serving as Assembly speaker.
“Mayor Buck was not going after the waste, specifically John Oceguera,” Olive said.
(North Las Vegas Fire Chief Al Gillespie has defended the pay, saying Oceguera participated in early morning video conferences, wrote weekly operations reports and processed emails from Carson City.)
North Las Vegas resident Bob Borgersen said he also plans to file paperwork to recall the mayor. Borgersen, whose daughter ran in the last election for the Ward 2 council seat, said there are a number of reasons he wants Buck recalled.
He cited the decision to close the recreation centers as well as what he calls a lack of transparency. Both men accused Buck of favoring police and fire unions over the welfare of citizens.
Buck won the 2009 general election against William Robinson with 5,364 votes, almost 55 percent of the total.
Clark County Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax said to recall the mayor, three registered voters who voted in that election must file a notice of intent to petition. Those voters then have 90 days to get 25 percent of registered voters, in this case 2,448 voters, to sign a petition for a recall. At the end of the 90 days, the petition must be sent to the city clerk, where it will be verified.
Borgersen acknowledged that getting the required signatures could be difficult, in part because it has been two years since the election and some voters have moved.
Buck said the vote to close recreation centers was necessary to balance the city’s budget. She said she is still optimistic about negotiations with police unions, which could help keep rec centers open if enough money is saved.
“That was a vote to balance the budget and if we don’t have concessions with police unions, we will have to close the recreation centers,” Buck said. “I am hopeful and doing all that I can to keep the rec centers.”
Buck said she’s happy with her record as North Las Vegas mayor.
“Citizens have the right to go through this process and I look forward to having the discussion about my record and my goals as we move forward,” Buck said. “I’m proud of what I’ve done.”