Las Vegas Sun

April 23, 2019

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A beginner’s guide to Las Vegas’ spring elections

2019 State of the City

Sam Morris/Las Vegas News Bureau

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman delivers her State of the City address Thursday, Jan 10, 2019, at Las Vegas City Hall.

It’s election season in Las Vegas, and dozens of candidates are competing for spots on the City Council and in the Mayor’s Office.

With three council seats open and Mayor Carolyn Goodman and Councilman Cedric Crear up for re-election, the makeup of the city’s most powerful governing body is expected to change significantly this summer.

In the primary election April 2, six mayoral candidates will face off against two-term incumbent Goodman. Two candidates are challenging Crear, who won a special election in Ward 5 this past year; 10 are running for the open council seat in Ward 1; and seven are running for the open seat in Ward 3.

If one candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote in any of the primary elections, a general election for that race will not be held, and that candidate will automatically be declared the winner. At this time, the general election for all races is scheduled for June 11.

Here’s what voters need to know about the candidates, the races and voting ahead of the nonpartisan municipal elections.

Can I vote?

Voter turnout in Las Vegas municipal elections is typically low, so those who do vote have more influence on the outcome.

In 2017, 7.67 percent of registered voters came out to the polls during the primary election. Turnout in 2015 was slightly higher; 37,485 people voted in the mayoral primary election, or about 15.7 percent of registered voters.

Las Vegas residents can confirm their voter registration status by contacting the Clark County Election Department at 702-455-8683 (VOTE), or checking online at the Secretary of State’s Office at registertovoteNV.gov.

Those with a Nevada state ID can register at a Department of Motor Vehicles office, a state welfare agency, a WIC office or online at registerto voteNV.gov.

If you aren’t sure which ward you live in or if you live in the city limits, you can enter your address on the city’s website to find out. The Secretary of State’s Office website will also show you where your polling place is located.

Early voting is available at select polling places until March 29.

Who’s running for mayor?

Carolyn Goodman is seeking a third—and final—four-year term as mayor of Las Vegas. First elected in 2011, Goodman succeeded her husband, longtime Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman.

Carolyn is often credited with continuing and expanding her husband’s vision of Downtown revitalization and economic development. Her campaign manager, Tom Letizia, said she would continue her efforts to grow the city, especially the Downtown and the burgeoning medical district, if elected for a final term.

Other goals of Goodman’s include bringing more transportation options to the city and improving safety in public spaces such as parks.

“She wants to continue building an intelligent transportation system aligned with technology, improving connectivity, safety and mobility,” Letizia said.

Can anyone oust a Goodman?

When Goodman, whose name is practically synonymous with Las Vegas politics, ran for re-election in 2015, she received 54.5 percent of votes, easily beating three challengers: now-City Councilman Stavros Anthony, Phil Cory and Abdul Shabazz.

None of Goodman’s challengers this year has previous experience in elected positions, but they all cite different reasons for why they’re the right candidate over the incumbent mayor.

Vance “Stretch” Sanders, a minister at Greater Evergreen Ministry Baptist Church on Lexington Street, believes his social activism and youth make him an ideal change-maker. The 24-year-old has organized Black Lives Matter rallies in the city and started a social justice organization called All Shades United.

“We need younger people and younger voices and younger faces getting involved in the political arena, not just getting involved to get involved, but with a game plan and a strategy,” Sanders said.

Amy Luciano, a self-described third-generation Las Vegan, said she is running to make Las Vegas safer and more community-oriented.

“When my family ran this town for 40 [years]: We didn’t have a homeless issue. We didn’t have chaos and confusion. We didn’t have poor education that failed to hold those accountable for such. We didn’t have parents in fear of our youth,” Luciano wrote in an email.

She declined to say whether she is related to Charles “Lucky” Luciano, an Italian crime lord active in Las Vegas during the 1940s.

Life coach Tina Rané Alexander said her experience as a single working mom and her attention to working-class issues makes her a strong candidate for mayor. She said her biggest priorities if elected would be to increase tourism and to bring “change, diversity and healing through leadership.”

Mack Miller is an attorney who has been involved in different community organizations and causes, including the Salvation Army and the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, according to his campaign website. He ran for state Assembly as a Republican in 2018.

Zachary Krueger is an entrepreneur in the cannabis industry, according to Ballotpedia. Phil Collins is a self-described fiscal conservative who would seek to cut taxes and “wasteful spending” if elected, his campaign website says.

Wards 1, 3 and 5

Ten candidates have filed to replace Mayor Pro Tem Lois Tarkanian, who is not seeking re-election due to term limits, in Ward 1. One of the candidates, Robin Munier, is Tarkanian’s assistant.

Other candidates for Ward 1 include: Robert Blakely, Drew Dondero, Amy Emanuel, Jesse “Jake” Holder, Brian Knudsen, Dean Lauer, Dave Marlon, Sherman Ray and Margarita Velazquez Rebollal.

Tarkanian said she might endorse a candidate in the coming weeks once she has met with as many of them as possible.

“But I will tell you, we have some very fine candidates,” she said.

In Ward 3, Councilman Bob Coffin, who is not seeking re-election, has not endorsed any of the seven candidates who have filed to replace him.

“I’m staying quiet on Ward 3, watching them campaign and looking to see who could be the best,” Coffin said.

Crear faces two challenges in Ward 5, from Henry “Hen Hen” Thorns and Derek Washington. Thorns was profiled on Las Vegas Now last year for his crime prevention efforts and community organizing in North Las Vegas. Washington is a community activist in Ward 5.

Crear, who was elected in March 2018, previously served as the District 1 representative on the Nevada System of Higher Education Regents and now runs his own advertising company.

What about Ward 2?

First-term Councilman Steve Seroka resigned abruptly from his post in Ward 2 on March 4 for undisclosed reasons, leaving another seat vacant.

The City Council voted Wednesday to hold a special election on June 11 for Ward 2, coinciding with the general municipal election in the city.

Two candidates have so far announced their intention to run for the seat: former republican state assemblywoman Victoria Seaman and former republican state assemblywoman Valerie Weber.

Seaman previously led an unsuccessful effort to recall Seroka in December, on the basis of his role in a fight over the vacant former Badlands Golf Course and his support for an open-space ordinance that critics said limits development. Weber ran for Nevada Senate District 8 last year, but lost to Senator Marilyn Dondero Loop.

Candidate filing officially begins Monday and continues through Thursday, March 28.

This story originally appeared in the Las Vegas Weekly.