Las Vegas Ward 6 Councilman Steve Ross retained his job by a vote of 4,319 to 1,845, defeating Planning Commissioner Byron Goynes in a special recall election Tuesday.
The election, held though Ross' term is set to expire in June 2013, was a result of a petition circulated by the Committee to Recall Steve Ross.
Funded largely by car dealer and Ross foe Joe Scala, the committee gathered more than 1,100 signatures from voters who said they wanted a chance to vote Ross, 49, out of office early.
Scala became an enemy of Ross after the car dealer failed to get the councilman to support the extension of a waiver that would have allowed his dealership to continue selling upscale, vintage used cars in an area originally set aside for new vehicle sales. Scala contended the lack of a waiver forced him to shut down his business and lay off about 30 workers on Dec. 24, 2010.
After the committee certified enough signatures to force a special election, Goynes, 51, circulated a petition of candidacy and gathered more than 1,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot on Jan. 11.
Although the recall committee was separate from Goynes' candidacy, Goynes hired several recall workers to help with his campaign.
Ross reported raising $106,440 for the 20-day campaign. Much of it was spent depicting Goynes as a "puppet" to Scala, though Goynes denied knowing Scala.
Goynes reported raising $9,000 for his campaign, mostly through friends and family.
He criticized Ross for supporting variances to allow Molly's Tavern to open across the street from a library and a YMCA. He also said he would have granted Scala the used-car waiver.
Although Goynes said he wasn't connected to the recall committee, he probably benefited from its work.
The committee reported raising $63,964 in cash and in-kind contributions this year. That was on top of $66,162 raised last year, almost all of it from Scala and his Courtesy car business.
As recently as election day, paid recall committee workers were on the streets of Ward 6 helping to turn out voters.
Voters who favored Ross said that they thought the councilman was doing a good job and that he shouldn't take the blame for a lousy economy.
"I think he has done a helluva job in this area," said Edward Kauffman, 71, a retiree. "Even though they are saying it is his fault so many businesses have closed, it is the economy."
June Chapman, 47, who works in technical support, echoed Kauffman.
"There has been a whole lot of growth in this area," Chapman said, comparing the suburbanized area with the way it looked 17 years ago when she moved to Ward 6. "We were here before the streetlights came."
Other Ross voters complained about the cost to taxpayers of holding a special recall election when the councilman's term is set to conclude next year.
"I think it is ludicrous to vote a person in, then turn around and vote him right out," said Ruth Bates, 70, a retiree.
For some, however, the anti-Ross messages from Goynes and the recall committee resonated.
David Rozovics, 57, a warehouse worker, said he voted for Goynes because he disagreed with Ross' support in allowing Molly's Tavern to open near a library and a YMCA, an issue anti-Ross forces cited among reasons to recall the councilman.
"Putting children at risk to make a few bucks," Rozovics said. "I just don't believe it is a good idea."
Another Goynes voter said he was unimpressed with Ross despite the councilman's bombardment of Ward 6 with direct mail, signs and phone calls.
"I don't like the way Ross sounds," said Eric Harshaw, a marketing worker for a slot machine company. "He just sounds arrogant."
For Harshaw, the Ross ads were a turnoff that swayed his vote to Goynes.
"I did this, I did that," Harshaw said, describing Ross touting his record in office. "No one person does anything; he has not made himself look better."
The City Council position comes with a salary of $72,749.
Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-229-6435.