As former mayors of the great city of North Las Vegas, and as residents who are now constituents, we would like to offer some unsolicited advice to new Mayor John Lee.
We know from experience how difficult and challenging it can be to be an elected official at the local government level, especially during these trying times. We offer these tips to Mr. Lee to help him navigate the rocky shoals he faces (“NLV’s fiscal forecast gloomy” Wednesday Review-Journal).
1. There’s a difference between campaigning and governing. It is important to know when one ends and the other begins. It is time for Mayor Lee to become an integrated member of the team. The team is called the “City Council.” Members were elected just as you were, Mr. Lee. Their voices and votes are just as important as yours. You will find that you can accomplish so much more by working as a team. And you might learn something from them about the history of the decisions that were reached before you arrived.
2. Finding fault and criticizing council members, staff and previous administrations is really the opposite of team-building. It will amaze Mr. Lee how many people will come to his aid, to support him, to educate him and to cheer for his success once he stops blaming, stops making excuses and begins to do the job he was elected to do.
3. Because Mr. Lee apparently does not fully understand the history of why some financial decisions were made, that doesn’t mean he can justifiably claim that “citizens were deceived,” or that money was “looted.” That dog won’t hunt. Tagging a practice as “looting,” then proposing to do exactly the same thing for the next seven years, could be viewed as hypocritical. Speaking from experience, we’ve found it’s usually a good idea to understand the facts before opening your mouth. Mr. Lee may want to try that approach next time.
4. City employees are actually good people if you take the time to get to know them. They are dedicated public servants and are part of the team.
5. We appreciate Mr. Lee’s work with the Boy Scouts. Remember, a Boy Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. What a fine example to follow.
6. Campaign rhetoric does not solve problems. Like many national politicians, Mr. Lee seems to be attempting to gain popularity by blaming the prior administration, stalling for time because he has no solutions, deflecting criticism by claiming ignorance. Mayor, throw that playbook away. That is no way to lead. You asked for this job. You said you had solutions. You made promises to the residents and the people who hired you. It’s time for you to tell us your solutions, not time for you to put up smoke screens.
7. A campaign manager does not a city manager make. Hiring your inexperienced campaign manager as a de facto city manager at a six-figure salary, when so many others have lost their jobs and other positions are in serious jeopardy, is not only fiscally irresponsible, it doesn’t pass the smell test.
8. Finally, we pray for the success of the city. Our residents deserve the best city government they can have. It’s time to start solving the problems and bringing us together, Mayor Lee. The opposite approach is simply not acceptable.
Michael L. Montandon was mayor of North Las Vegas from 1997 to 2009. Shari L. Buck was mayor of North Las Vegas from 2009 to 2013.