One day before his colleagues were set to decide the matter, Clark County Commissioner Larry Brown withdrew his name from consideration to replace Pat Mulroy at the helm of the Las Vegas Valley Water District and Southern Nevada Water Authority.
Brown pulled out early Monday afternoon after a short and somewhat testy campaign for what some have called Nevada’s most important unelected post.
That leaves just one candidate: John Entsminger, current second in command at both the water district and the authority and Mulroy’s handpicked choice to replace her.
The commissioners, serving in their role as the water district’s board of directors, are slated to consider naming Mulroy’s successor when they meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
It’s unclear whether the commission will pick a permanent replacement to head the valley’s largest water utility or name an interim chief to allow time for a broader search, as Commissioner Steve Sisolak and others have suggested.
In either case, the commission’s choice to run the district would be sent on to the separate Southern Nevada Water Authority board for consideration to also run that agency.
In the letter he sent Monday to his fellow commissioners, Brown wished Entsminger “the very best” if the board picks him to replace Mulroy.
As for why he is withdrawing, he wrote: “What has transpired over the past few weeks has distorted my intentions and reasoning in seeking this position. This is not good for the District nor the County.”
Brown later told the Review-Journal that his reasons for wanting the job hadn’t changed but the discussion had become more about “politics” than water policy.
At least some of that was his own doing.
During a meeting last week with the newspaper’s editorial board, Brown suggested that Mulroy and her representatives tried to entice him to drop out of contention by offering him the No. 2 job at the water agency.
Mulroy denied that any such promise had been made, and Brown later clarified that there had been discussions but no firm offer.
Brown had positioned himself as the outsider, vowing to pare back expenses at a pair of agencies with hundreds of highly paid employees and plans for a 300-mile pipeline to rural eastern Nevada that could cost $15 billion or more.
He vowed Monday to keep asking the same tough questions he would have as general manager.
“As we move forward, the need for greater transparency and fiscal accountability are critical to fostering public trust in this agency,” he wrote in his letter to the commission.
Brown said he is still waiting to hear from county legal counsel about whether he will be allowed to participate or cast a vote during Tuesday’s discussion of the district’s top job.
He declined to say whether he would vote for Entsminger if given the chance.
Feb. 6 will be the last day on the job for Mulroy, who has served as general manager of both the district and the authority for more than 20 years.
Her decision to retire touched off what Brown described as “borderline chaos” in part because the authority has never had to replace its leader before. When the wholesale water agency was created in 1991, Mulroy was already in her third year at the helm of the water district and she took on the dual role as general manager for both agencies.
The process for replacing her has caused some confusion so far, and more trouble could be in store. It’s unclear, for example, what might happen if the commission and the water authority board can’t agree on someone to run both agencies.
Right now, Brown said, the inter-local agreement that allows both jobs to be handled by one person actually refers to Pat Mulroy by name.
As early as Tuesday, that might have to change.
Contact reporter Henry Brean at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0350. Find him on Twitter at @RefriedBrean.