The race for Henderson’s mayor is filled with a range of candidates — some who have been in elected capacities for decades and others who are trying their first time at a campaign.
Henderson’s mayor serves four years and makes $54,635 per year.
Born in Boulder City, Andy Hafen grew up in Henderson.
His first election, which he won, was in his sophomore year of high school for student council. But Hafen, 58, didn’t have political aspirations, just the desire to serve.
After graduating from Basic High School in 1972, Hafen went to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to study accounting and business administration.
His goal, which was what he had thought about since junior high, was to become an agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He worked as a clerk for the FBI but never became an agent.
After college, he worked at the Metropolitan Police Department in the special investigations division for 23 years.
In 1987, he ran successfully for Ward 2 on the Henderson City Council.
“Things are a lot different than when I first ran,” Hafen said.
His first campaign was just him, his wife and friends and family members going door to door.
“We have more people now,” Hafen said, referring to Henderson’s population boom. “I couldn’t imagine doing that by myself now.”
Hafen served as a councilman until 2009, when he was elected mayor.
He decided to seek a second term because he feels there is unfinished business.
“I think it sends the statement that we are doing the right thing,” Hafen said. “I want to continue to do the right things to make sure we become the premier community.”
Eddie “In Liberty” Hamilton
Eddie Hamilton, 70, was born and raised in Michigan.
He worked for 30 years as an executive for Chrysler, helping with the development of projects such as the Town & Country minivan.
He moved to Las Vegas in 2003 and to Henderson in 2007.
Hamilton is no stranger to campaigning, even crossing party lines to do so.
“It’s my duty to be a proactive citizen,” he said.
As a Republican in 2006, he challenged U.S. Sen. John Ensign. As a Democrat in 2010, he ran against U.S. Sen. Harry Reid. He also challenged Henderson City Councilwoman Gerri Schroder, who was the incumbent, in 2011 for the Ward 1 seat.
“And I will keep returning (to run) as long as I’m on this Earth,” he said.
Each time, Hamilton has adopted a new nickname, such as “Mr. Clean,” which he used against Reid to make a statement about what he saw as corruption, and “The Frugal,” which represented his stance on fiscal matters.
He returns as “In Liberty.”
“People have the right to economic freedom and to be free of corruption,” he said. “People have the right to be free from high taxes and bloated government. That’s why I chose ‘In Liberty.’ I stand for freedom.”
Henderson has been home to Kyler Robinson for 28 years.
He returned to Henderson after his two-year trip to Argentina as a missionary.
“I really enjoyed my experience down there,” he said. “I learned a lot about the culture. People have a better view on life.”
Robinson, 28, attended the College of Southern Nevada before transferring to UNLV. He is set to graduate with a degree in Spanish in May.
He always foresaw himself attending medical school and becoming a chiropractor.
“I always wanted to help improve people’s standard of living,” he said.
But he put that on the back burner to run for mayor.
“And people think I’m crazy for doing it,” he said.
For 12 years, he has worked with his parents as a fire and safety technician.
His experience with the small business has prompted him to run for mayor.
“I have seen businesses hurting,” he said. “I just want to be in the position to help.”
Robinson said he doesn’t care for politics.
“I hate politics,” he said. “I just don’t like the way things are being run.”
Born in 1939, two years before America entered World War II, Jerry Sakura, 73, said his family spent years inside a Japanese-American relocation camp.
“It was pretty much Auschwitz without the gas pipe,” he said.
Sakura, 73, said despite his family’s time in internment, they grew up to be patriotic.
“All my brothers wanted to serve this country as doctors,” he said.
Sakura, however, enlisted in the U.S. Navy and went to Vietnam.
After his service, he traveled and lived in London, New Jersey and California.
Sakura retired to Newport Beach, Calif., but he had his eye on Sun City Anthem.
“I read an article about it becoming an up-and-coming community,” he said.
When his house went up for sale, he moved to Sun City in 2011.
This isn’t Sakura’s first campaign. He ran unsuccessfully for a Congressional seat in New Jersey in the 1990s and against John Oceguera in 2012 for the 3rd Congressional District. He lost in the primary.
He hopes another name on the ticket brings a diversity of views.
“I’m not going to beat the kid on the street who grew up here,” Sakura said, referring to Hafen. “I just want to use these weeks to have a spirited debate.”
Born in New York, Joe Scala, 55, remembers growing up in a small, close-knit community where people never locked their doors.
When he was 18, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy.
“It’s a funny story,” he said. “My girlfriend went to Germany for three weeks as a graduation present. I was angry, so I enlisted to get back at her.”
Scala is proud of his military service, especially since he was part of the post-Vietnam military.
Scala was incarcerated five years in federal prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine.
“It was in my 20s,” he said. “We are allowed our one mess-up in life.”
He moved to Henderson in 1996 and started doing architectural designs and general contracting.
“I remember I was in sixth or seventh grade, and I was just fascinated with architecture,” he said.
Along with custom designs and contracting, he has worked restoring vintage cars.
“I’m good with my hands,” he said.
Scala has never been one for politics.
His biggest memory of a political race was when he was 8 and a neighbor ran for office.
“He went door to door,” Scala said. “Everyone knew him.”
From that memory, Scala gets his basis on what a mayor should be and who he would be if he wins.
“The mayor is the glue that binds the community,” he said. “I’m the type that always answers the phone. And my door is always open.”
Even though he has kept to himself political opinions the majority of his life, he decided to get involved with this election because of the budget issues the city is going through. He fears that if the city doesn’t address its problems, the situation could worsen, as has been the case in North Las Vegas.
“I’m a no-nonsense kind of guy,” he said. “That’s what the city needs.”
In scaling back the city’s finances, he hopes to address what he sees as inflated salaries of city officials and reckless spending.
He said he is not a suit-and-tie kind of guy — he is more into work boots and jeans.
“I’m a fixer,” he said. “You can’t fix a mess in a suit and tie. You need to put on your work boots.”
Clayton Simmons, 43, grew up in San Diego but has lived in Las Vegas most of his life.
“We would always visit here off and on,” he said.
In 1981, his family decided to move to Las Vegas, which has been home ever since.
It is where he graduated high school — a proud Viking from Valley High School.
For the last 18 years, he has worked at MGM Resorts International.
“I started out on the food and beverage side,” he said. “My grandmother had a background in food and beverage. She encouraged me to do the same.”
Even after bouncing around in a few other departments, he has ventured back into food and beverage, where he receives room service orders.
“I really like it,” he said.
About four years ago, Simmons started taking an interest in politics.
“There is a lot to learn about the subject,” he said.
He reached out to local politicians to gauge their opinions of what it is like to be an elected official.
The best way to learn, he thought, would be to seek office.
“Everyone I talked to said you learn a lot on the job,” he said.
Since this is his first time testing the waters, Simmons isn’t sure if he’d ever be interested in another elected post.
“I’d have to see,” he said. “If I got elected, I’d see how well I did my first term and maybe run a second. After that, you never know.”
Rick Workman, 56, just wanted to serve his country. So at 17, he dropped out of high school, finished his GED diploma and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1973 during Vietnam.
“My friend came up to me and said, ‘Let’s go to Vietnam,’ ” he said. “I didn’t know the war would be over in 18 months.”
During his service, Workman said the highlight of his career was managing nuclear weapons.
Workman made his way back to school, earning a master’s degree in aerospace management through Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
In 1993, he moved out to Las Vegas to work as a crime scene analyst with the Metropolitan Police Department.
“I liked it because we were solving crimes and saving lives,” he said. “We were fighting for the victims, or in the worst cases, for the victims’ families.”
In 2000, he joined the Henderson Police Department as the criminalistics bureau administrator.
With his new employment, he moved to Henderson.
“I love it here,” he said. “One thing about living and working in the same community is you have ownership.”
One thing he is proud of is his involvement in the development of a forensic lab in Henderson.
He currently serves as the department’s accreditation coordinator. In addition, he works as an instructor at Regis University, teaching forensic science.
Because he felt the city had fallen on hard times, Workman decided to run.
If elected, he hopes to make the city’s budget shortfalls and public safety among his top priorities.
Contact Henderson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5201.