Southern Nevada elected officials carry out their duties today amid the twin clouds of suspicion and low expectations. Regardless of their effectiveness, re-election is nearly certain if they can brag they've never faced public corruption charges.
Compared with the four former Clark County commissioners in federal prison (Lance Malone, Dario Herrera, Mary Kincaid-Chauncey and Erin Kenny), a fifth under indictment (Lynette Boggs) and a sixth under criminal investigation (Yvonne Atkinson Gates), elected representatives need only stay out of trouble to seem worthy of a remake of "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."
Thankfully, Bruce Woodbury has set the bar a bit higher.
On Tuesday, Mr. Woodbury became the longest-serving commissioner in state history. His elected service to Clark County totals nearly 26 years and six months.
And Mr. Woodbury wasn't in hiding while serving alongside all the aforementioned damaged goods. Rather, he distinguished himself as one of the valley's premier long-term thinkers and planners, trying to keep up with the region's explosive growth and, when possible, get ahead.
How bad would traffic be on our surface streets and highways if Mr. Woodbury hadn't been on the commission to advocate plans to pay for transportation infrastructure? Thanks in large part to Mr. Woodbury's efforts, today voters are driving a nearly completed Las Vegas Beltway that bears his name.
How bad would flooding in the valley be after even brief summer rainstorms if Mr. Woodbury hadn't helped establish the Clark County Flood Control District back in 1986?
Unlike many of his former colleagues, who've used their offices to amass ill-gotten wealth and buy bigger, newer homes and cars, Mr. Woodbury has lived in the same Boulder City house for all his years as a commissioner. He drives a nearly 20-year-old car with 279,000 miles.
"I've worked with 27 different commissioners," Mr. Woodbury said during Tuesday's commission meeting, where he was honored for his record service. "The legacy of a few of them is not what we'd want it to be, but the majority of them were honest, dedicated public servants."
None more so than Mr. Woodbury.