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Election rookies vie for North Las Vegas council seat

Both of the teachers up for a Ward 1 North Las Vegas City Council seat next month are election rookies.

Jared Hardy — a former laborer, construction manager, Realtor and now teacher at Legacy High School — would argue he has the most political experience, most of it picked up around the dinner table.

“My brother was in politics; my dad was in politics; it was always a topic of discussion growing up,” the 38-year-old son of former Councilman Brent Hardy said. “I always wanted to be president growing up, so (politics) has been a lifelong thing.”

Hardy, who declined to state a party preference, faces Rancho High School teacher and Democratic community activist Isaac Barron in a nonpartisan general election set for June 4.

Barron and Hardy — both high school teachers, both lifelong North Las Vegas residents — share a lot in common off the campaign trail.

On it, Barron, a former pest control worker, feels he has the edge.

The 10th-grade history teacher, who nearly doubled Hardy’s primary vote total, holds a $25,000 campaign fundraising advantage over his general election opponent headed into early voting today .

“He comes from a family that’s well known in politics, I definitely come from a more blue-collar background,” Barron, 42, said last month. “I don’t know what he did for college, but I definitely had to make my own way.”

The pair of candidates for term-limited City Councilman Robert Eliason’s seat haven’t sparred at debates or spent a lot of money mudslinging through campaign mailers, though they do tend to split over how best to salvage the city’s finances.

North Las Vegas faced an estimated $33.3 million budget deficit in fiscal year 2013, a gap cash-strapped city officials looked to bridge through a combination of layoffs and $12.3 million in suspended union pay raises.

Both Hardy and Barron balked at the prospect of throwing out those union contracts and neither feels the city — one of the hardest recession-hit municipalities in the country in terms of lost revenue — can afford more to issue more pink slips beyond the roughly 1,000 handed out since 2009.

But where Barron hopes to find a city budget with some fat left to trim, Hardy sees a spending plan already stripped to the bone.

A former member of the city’s community development block grant committee, Hardy would instead like to see the city repackaged and sold to business owners as a place with a “much more service-oriented culture” at City Hall.

Barron, who has won backing from both the North Las Vegas Firefighters’ and Police Supervisors’ union, is willing to try similar forms of outreach to help entrepreneurs “cut through the red tape.”

The pair dovetailed on a recent proposal that would allow city officials to seize underwater mortgages through the city’s power of eminent domain. Neither has warmed to the idea proposed by San Francisco-based Mortgage Resolution Partners, though both feel the move merits discussion.

Hardy, backed by the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors, went on to propose some big ward-specific ideas, including possible development of city land surrounding the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

He also likes the idea of boosting his own Legacy High School’s focus on medical curriculum after the federal government’s recent installment of a $600 million Veterans Affairs hospital on North Pecos Road.

Barron, a proponent of the economic development agenda put forward by Eliason, said he plans to clean up the city business code and revamp Ward 1’s Interstate 15 interchange with the Las Vegas Beltway.

Barron also hopes to encourage placement of a drone range somewhere outside city limits, suggesting aviation-based curriculums at his own Rancho High School might help to encourage such a move.

The Ward 1 seat — the only municipal post still up for grabs after lopsided primary night victories for Ward 4 Councilwoman Anita Wood and Mayor-elect John Lee — covers most of the eastern part of the city north of Las Vegas Boulevard and east of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The seat is nonpartisan and lasts four years. Early voting is set to wrap up May 31. The municipal general election, open to Ward 1 residents only, is scheduled for June 4.

North Las Vegas City Council members earn $41,826.98 a year.

Contact View reporter James DeHaven at jdehaven@viewnews.com or 702-477-3839.

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