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Residency question dominates Ward 3 debate

Ward 3 neighborhoods are some of the city’s oldest and have been hit hard by the recession.

Residents there have said they are worried about crime and vacant homes, which are vulnerable to vandalism and blight.

The race to fill the soon-to-be empty Las Vegas City Council seat has been plagued with debate about whether candidate Adriana Martinez truly lives on Sweeney Avenue.

According to county records, she bought the Sweeney property in 2009 and changed her voter registration in January 2010. Martinez said the property required a lot of work, and she lived in a casita in the back.

An investigator reportedly monitored the Sweeney property in January and claims other people live at the residence and that Martinez did not live in the home 30 days prior to filing her candidacy, as is required.

About nine miles separate two houses owned by Martinez, whose ownership of both properties is listed on city assessor records.

One home, at 812 Sweeney Ave., is in Ward 3, the race for which Martinez is running. A large campaign sign is attached to a fence. Fresh plants grow from the ground. The green grass seems to have gotten some recent attention.

Across the street, school has let out for the day at John S. Park Elementary School, 931 Franklin Ave. Children and their parents scurry among the cars crammed along the street.

The other property is at 1499 Sunair Circle in Sunrise Manor — far from the city’s boundaries — at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac near the mountains.

At a May 10 debate at the Mesquite Club, 702 E. St. Louis Ave., residents again challenged candidates Martinez and Bob Coffin about these issues. It was heated. The two city council hopefuls made some strong remarks, and it wasn’t pretty.

However, neighborhood issues above the mudslinging still remain.

Residents questioned the two about how they would handle abandoned homes, squatters pirating electricity on these properties, homelessness, code enforcement and crime in the area.

Some expressed concerns about walking in certain areas of the ward, including Las Vegas Boulevard near Oakey Boulevard, where “open drug deals and prostitution” have been witnessed.

To cope with these problems, Martinez called for an increase in police activity through the area to “ensure that we’re safe to walk our dogs.”

Coffin said council members need to get complaints to police so they can handle the problems.

Baker and Circle parks also were discussed. Homeless and playground problems were addressed.

Martinez vowed to reopen Circle Park, at North Maryland Parkway and Franklin Avenue, the day after she’s elected. The park closed a few years ago after a homeless man was stabbed to death there.

Coffin said more parks need to be opened in “bombed-out areas that some of them frankly won’t come back. We have opportunities for pocket parks that can be maintained by the neighbors — stimulated by the city.”

“We can create these things, do some gardening … that counts as a park,” he said. “Then you can teach the kids how to eat healthy.”

Martinez serves as City Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian’s community liaison and is a former head of the state Democratic Party. Coffin is a former state senator.

In the primary, Coffin garnered 1,247 votes. Martinez received 1,198. Coffin has said he is not involved with the residency challenge.

Contact Downtown and North Las Vegas View reporter Kristi Jourdan at kjourdan@viewnews.com or 383-0492.

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