Las Vegas Sun

October 20, 2017

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COMMENTARY:

Community champions: Celebrating Las Vegans who made a difference

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Courtesy of MANICA Architechture

An artist’s illustration of a stadium on Russell Road and Las Vegas Boulevard was revealed during a Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee meeting at UNLV Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016.

It will be awhile before Las Vegas’ NFL stadium is completed, but small-business owners already have a reason to cheer over it.

Thanks to efforts by advocates for small and minority-owned businesses, the legislation that authorized the project requires 15 percent of subcontracts for the design, construction and operation of the stadium to go to small businesses. The same requirement applies to a related project — the expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center — and will remain in place even if the NFL chooses not to allow the Oakland Raiders to move to Nevada and the stadium project is downgraded to a venue for UNLV.

The group that pressed lawmakers to add the provision included the Urban, Latin and Asian chambers of commerce, Nevada Minority Supplier Development Council and National Association of Minority Contractors.

Thanks to leaders like the Urban Chamber’s Shaundell Newsome, who took time out of running his own business to travel to Carson City during the special session for the stadium, small businesses are in line to get a piece of the billions in funding for the stadium and convention center projects.

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Shaundell Newsome is the founder of Sumnu Marketing and is a member of the Urban Chamber of Commerce board of directors.

The advocates’ efforts didn’t make headlines, but they’re still very much worth celebrating.

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The Culinary Union and Hispanic community activists deserve all the credit they can get for their efforts to register and activate voters this year.

The presidential election didn’t turn out the way the majority of Hispanic voters hoped it would, but that didn’t diminish their impact in Southern Nevada. Here, they helped propel a Democratic wave that included U.S. Senator-elect Catherine Cortez Masto and House candidates Dina Titus, Ruben Kihuen and Jacky Rosen.

Considering the critical role that Clark County played in Masto’s election — not to mention passage of the ballot question establishing universal background checks, which was defeated in every Nevada county but Clark — Hispanic voters have every reason to be proud.

The same goes for the Culinary staff and community volunteers who helped rally them through an initiative known as Immigrant Voters Win, in which the Culinary partnered with such organizations as Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, the Center for Community Change Action, Latino Victory Project and America's Voice.

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Jacqueline Lima, 20, walks with her four-year-old sister, Karla, holding an American flag, and gets serenaded by a mariachi group after Lima voted for the first time, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, in Las Vegas. Immigrant advocates in Las Vegas worked to get more U.S.-born Latinos to the polls on Election Day as early voter numbers suggest a surge in Hispanic voters. Lima voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The group went door-to-door, held community events and conducted phone campaigns over the course of several months, helping form what lightheartedly was referred to as “Trump’s wall” — a galvanized force of voters who opposed him.

The voters didn’t succeed in keeping Trump out of the White House, but they did help make a difference in Nevada. Here’s hoping they’ll come back even stronger in 2018.

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Las Vegas activist Sue Brooks will be missed for a lot of reasons, but one high on the list was her approach to political discourse.

Brooks, who died Sunday at 70, proved that civility and grace could survive the us-versus-them mentality that has infected politics.

“Sue was just wonderful at talking to people,” said Brooks’ fellow activist Elizabeth Becker in a story published at lasvegassun.com. “She could approach anyone. It didn’t matter what their political affiliation was.”

But Brooks wasn’t a softie — far from it. The retired elementary school principal worked hard and was a force of persuasion. Canvassing neighborhoods, working phone banks or recruiting volunteers, she went at her activism with an all-out commitment.

Among her causes: getting Barack Obama elected in 2008, Harry Reid re-elected in 2010 and the background check measure passed this year.

In all three cases, she ended up on the victorious side.

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MoveOn.org volunteers Sue Brooks, right, and Addie Crisp, in mask, talk to Robert Martin of Las Vegas about the difference between President George W. Bush and John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, May 29, 2008.

But even if she hadn’t, Brooks would have a winner — inspirational and unforgettable.

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