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Finalists make pitches to fill Henderson’s Ward 2 City Council seat

Three finalists made their final pitches Thursday to the Henderson City Council on why they should be selected to fill the Ward 2 seat.

The Ward 2 vacancy held by Mayor-elect Debra March will be filled Tuesday when March, who is replacing term-limited Mayor Andy Hafen, is sworn in to the mayoral seat.

In total, nine people applied to fill March’s council seat, but that slate was whittled to three finalists, who made statements and answered questions Thursday.

Finalists were Orlando L. Sanchez, deputy city manager for the city of Las Vegas; Dan Shaw, president and CEO of Rustler Investments and chairman of the Clark County Planning Commission; and William Bokelmann, foundation manager for the Henderson Chamber of Commerce.

Sanchez told council members that his goals for the city include community outreach, citizen engagement and working with business partners — both profit and nonprofit.

“I fully understand how city government operates and will be able to add valuable insight immediately,” Sanchez said. “I am committed to providing excellent customer service to the community that we serve by being proactive, innovative and transparent in all decisions that come before the City Council.”

Prior to Shaw’s presentation, each of the five council members disclosed that they have known him for several years.

Councilman Dan Stewart said he’s had past business relationships with Shaw, and both have been personal friends for more than 20 years. Hafen said his relationship with Shaw goes back almost 30 years, while Councilwoman Gerri Schroder and March both said they served with him on the city’s planning commission.

March added she’s accepted tickets to the National Rodeo Finals in Las Vegas from Shaw over the past several years.

However, all said their associations with him will not affect their judgment in the decision.

“It’s a small town, but it’s a large town and we all work well together,” Schroder said. “I don’t know how we would get around not knowing the majority of the people who apply for these positions because they are all involved in the community.”

As former chairman of the Henderson Planning Commission and parks and recreation board, Shaw said he wants to join council to continue to give back to his community as a public servant.

“I feel that the various areas of service, along with my lengthy business background, provide me with a unique perspective to help take the city to the next level,” Shaw said.

Bokelmann highlighted his collaboration with various businesses.

He said he recently launched the Henderson Chapter of Entrepreneurs Assembly in collaboration with the city’s economic development department.

Bokelmann said he would be opening the first co-working space for entrepreneurs in downtown Henderson at the Henderson Business Resource Center.

“I’m approachable, accessible and responsive to constituents,” Bokelmann said. “Qualities, I believe, that are critical to the success of the city council position.”

The City Council must fill the vacancy within 60 days of March’s swearing-in ceremony. An announcement on who will fill the seat is expected at the next regular city council meeting on Tuesday.

The individual selected will fill the remainder of March’s term, which ends in June 2019. The salary is $49,673 for council members.

Appointment process raises concerns

Before the meeting was over, several residents voiced their concerns over the appointment by application process.

“This is the promotion of someone who’s been a loyal servant to the government for all these years,” Ward 2 resident Robert Frank said. “It’s not about representing people or representing me as a citizen. It’s about making things convenient for the city council to have people that they know very well, and who have been disclosed as having may conflicts of interest. I find that very disturbing because this is not a democratic process.”

Hafen acknowledged that it would be “very fair” to hold an election to fill a vacancy. “But when I saw that it was going to cost another $500,000 to do a special election for this appointment, I, in good conscience, could not have that expenditure placed upon the residents when we could do this very effectively and make an appointment, which is only good until the next election,” he said.

Contact Sandy Lopez at slopez@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4686. Follow @JournalismSandy on Twitter.

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