Las Vegas Sun

July 18, 2018

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Sun Editorial:

Municipal elections: Ross, Seroka, Marz and Wood are the best choices

In 2016, Nevadans listened carefully to a political candidate who railed against the federal government, stoked unwarranted fears of crime and vilified immigrants and followers of certain religions.

And they voted for his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Now comes another election with a similarly bellicose and offensive candidate — one who local voters should also vote against.

Her name is Michele Fiore, and she’s competing with Kelli Ross for the Las Vegas City Council Ward 6 seat.

Nevadans who follow politics know Fiore well. As a member of the Nevada Legislature, Fiore was a right-wing extremist who, among other things, became a public point person for Cliven Bundy’s band of sovereign state radicals and, chillingly, stated in a videotaped interview that it was acceptable to point weapons at authorities who pointed them first.

Like Trump, Fiore has also made comments that she later felt compelled to explain, like this one: “I am not OK with Syrian refugees. I’m not OK with terrorists. I’m OK with putting them down, blacking them out, just put a piece of brass in their ocular cavity and end their miserable life. I’m good with that.”

Fiore later said she was talking about shooting terrorists, not refugees.

But similar statements of bravado — largely aimed at beefing up her support among the Second Amendment/conservative GOP crowd ­­— have made Fiore an embarrassment. It didn’t help that she distributed a calendar in which she struck pin-up poses while armed with a range of weapons.

No wonder that when Fiore ran for Congress last year, the Nevada Association of Public Safety Officers issued a statement saying she was unfit for office.

The group was absolutely right, which is why Las Vegas voters should treat her just like they treated Trump.

One of the most meaningful lines from the presidential election was that Trump’s supporters took him seriously but not literally, with many thinking he would pivot after being elected and would start acting presidential. Six months after the election, it’s become clear that Trump wasn’t putting on an act during the campaign.

With Fiore, it’s critical to take her literally and seriously. Those who do will find an aggressively partisan operative who would be completely out of place on a city council, where party affiliation typically isn’t as much of a factor as in state or federal politics.

The reason is that municipal officials deal more with nonpartisan issues like infrastructure, zoning and code enforcement than with politically divisive social matters like gun control, abortion, same-sex marriage and so forth.

Fiore made a lot more sense as a congressional candidate, and she didn’t come close to winning there. It would be even more illogical to vote her onto the city council.

Ross, by contrast, is an exceptional choice for the council. Her resume is dazzling: casino marketing executive, business founder, volunteer with youth organizations, mother and grandmother, and much more. She has broad appeal and hasn’t made a career of catering to the fringes of the right wing.

Ross is the clear pick in Ward 6. Nevadans got it right with Trump, and they now have a chance to follow up by selecting her and, hopefully, ending Fiore’s political career.

• • •

In a race between candidates who are much more evenly matched — Las Vegas City Council Ward 2 — Steve Seroka is the superior choice.

The election largely hinges on a single issue, the zoning fight over a redevelopment project on the former Badlands Golf Course, with incumbent Bob Beers facing criticism from some residents of the nearby Queensridge neighborhood for siding with the developers on the matter. Beers has defended his stance, saying the project was allowed under current zoning and that denying the developer would have placed the city at risk of a lawsuit.

Seroka disagrees.

But regardless of how voters feel about the issue, what’s most important about it in terms of the election is that it brought out a candidate of Seroka’s caliber.

It’s not often that someone with Seroka’s history — a distinguished military career in which he served as an Air force fighter pilot and high-level commander — pursues another leadership role after retiring from service.

Even better, Seroka knows Las Vegas. His final assignment was chief of staff for the Nellis Air Force Base Warfare Center, and after retirement he was selected as the chief of staff for the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce.

Seroka was the top graduate of his class at the Air Force Leadership School, commanded more than 30,000 combat sorties over Afghanistan and went on to serve as president of the Disabled Veterans Business Alliance, to pick a few items from his impressive resume.

Beers has been a capable councilman. But it speaks to Seroka’s qualifications and character that we consider him an even better choice than Beers.

• • •

In the Henderson City Council Ward 3 race, incumbent John Marz deserves another term.

Henderson is on the move again after the recession — with an increase in commercial development, steady population growth and a revitalization effort in the city’s downtown area, to name a few of the bright points — and Marz contributed to that progress.

His opponent, Carrie Cox, is a strong candidate, but there’s no need to change the status quo in Henderson. With former council member Debra March having made the jump to mayor, the council is perfectly poised to continue with the growth it has charted in recent years.

• • •

As in Henderson, the North Las Vegas Ward 3 race should go to the incumbent — Anita Wood. Wood’s challenger, Scott Black, edged her out in the primary, 33.36 percent to 30.15 percent, but we’re standing by our primary endorsement of Wood for exactly the same reason we’ve backed Marz.

North Las Vegas is moving in the right direction under Mayor John Lee and the current council. Although the status of the proposed Faraday Future automobile manufacturing plant remains in question, North Las Vegas has done an outstanding job of attracting businesses, streamlining its permit processes to make the area more attractive to developers and digging out from the budget catastrophe it suffered during the recession.

Against that backdrop, keeping the council together makes sense.

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