Former state Sen. John Lee officially launched his candidacy for mayor of North Las Vegas on Wednesday.
"Some doubt North Las Vegas can be turned around," Lee said in his announcement, referring to budget cuts and many layoffs in recent years. "But my hometown, the city I chose to raise my children in, is worth saving. We pay more taxes than any other city, yet we have fewer police, fewer firefighters, decaying infrastructure, the list truly goes on and on."
Lee, a Democrat, attacked Mayor Shari Buck, a Republican, for her financial management, citing the Craig Ranch Regional Park and City Hall projects. The position is nonpartisan.
Lee said he recognizes Craig Ranch park as a regional benefit and pledged to get the park open quickly and without charging an entrance fee.
"You say, 'How are you going to do that, John?' and I say I'll find a way," he said. The city plans to open the park by Labor Day.
Lee said he wants to take a regional approach to leadership. With concerns about the city's police and fire department cutbacks and the city's financial health, he said businesses and residents chose to operate and live in other areas in the valley, and North Las Vegas does not do enough to highlight its assets.
"The more Shari Buck does, the worse it gets," Lee said. "I feel this is the last breath that North Las Vegas has."
Buck has served on the City Council since 1999 and is the city's first female mayor. She is expected to file for re-election by the end of the month.
Buck was not available for comment Wednesday.
Lee was first elected to the Assembly in 1997 and the Senate in 2004, serving as a committee chairman and majority whip in the upper house
"Working with cities throughout Nevada has given me a very broad understanding of what works," Lee said.
While he has not sat down formally with any of the public unions, he said he has had informal breakfasts with police officers and firefighters. He expects to meet with the general bodies after the filing period closes.
The filing period runs from Jan. 26 through Feb. 1. The city clerk's office will be open both Fridays to accommodate filings, though city offices are typically closed Fridays. The primary election will be April 2 and the general June 4.
Two other seats will be determined in the election: City Council Ward 1 and Ward 3.
Ward 1 Councilman Robert Eliason reached his term limit by serving the maximum of three terms or 12 years.
Isaac Barron, a Rancho High School teacher, announced Tuesday that he plans to run for the Ward 1 seat. Incumbent Ward 3 Councilwoman Anita Wood is expected to seek re-election.
"Most important to me is constituent service," Barron said in his announcement. "I will dedicate a great deal of my time to being actively involved in meeting Ward 1 residents, listening to them, and responding to their ideas."
Contact Centennial and North Las Vegas View reporter Laura Phelps at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-477-3839.