The front-runners in Las Vegas’ mayoral race got in their parting blows Monday night, squaring off for a fourth and final debate ahead of next week’s municipal primary election.
Mayor Carolyn Goodman and Mayor Pro Tem Stavros Anthony traded barbs over everything from Cashman Field to master planning in a lively one-hour debate at the Desert Vista Community Center in Sun City Summerlin.
But the exchanges eventually settled into familiar territory downtown, where first-term Mayor Goodman backed a now abandoned plan to build a publicly subsidized $200 million, 24,000-seat soccer stadium fiercely opposed by Anthony and a pair of City Council colleagues.
Roughly 400 residents turned up for Monday’s debate, many expecting fireworks surrounding the stadium project. They were not disappointed.
Goodman, who has criticized Anthony’s opposition to public funding on the stadium and other downtown projects, said the controversial soccer venue has been dead for months and blamed her opponent for keeping the issue afloat. She promised she would “absolutely not” pursue another soccer stadium if elected to a second term.
Anthony — who has looked to hammer Goodman over $3.1 million the city spent to research the failed project — fired back, highlighting his opponent’s opposition to putting the stadium’s financing up for a public referendum before suggesting the project could still rise from the ashes.
The Ward 4 councilman could think of plenty of better ways to spend those city dollars.
“That money is supposed to be used for parks and community centers,” Anthony said. “I want to take a look at building a resource center downtown for homeless veterans.
“The way you do things is by getting people involved, not by jamming things down people’s throats.”
Mudslinging between the two candidates extends well beyond Monday’s debate. Mailers sent out by Anthony’s team tallied up around $84 million in “taxpayer handouts” promised or delivered for downtown projects under Goodman’s tenure. They also underscore a heated exchange between the mayor and a “close-minded” stadium subsidy opponent at a September town hall meeting.
Fliers put out by the Goodman camp accuse Anthony, a registered Republican, of embracing a “radical Tea Party agenda” aimed at abolishing Social Security and Medicaid — both federally administered programs neither Goodman, a registered nonpartisan, nor Anthony have any political say in overriding.
Other mailers tie Anthony, a former Metro Police officer, to a 2002 sexual harassment suit that was settled out of court. Anthony’s campaign has called allegations of his involvement in the complaint “completely false.”
Voters in Sun City Summerlin could well decide the Las Vegas mayor’s race — a point that wasn’t lost on either candidate throughout Monday’s debate.
“Here is a man who has been absolutely rigid,” Goodman said of her opponent. “You need someone who listens to both sides, who is a collaborator.
“My whole passion is for listening, being fair, but building this into a great city.
Neither big name candidate could name a mistake they had made in their time on the City Council, opening one in a handful of opportunities for two lesser-known mayoral candidates to offer their opinions to debate attendees.
Political newcomer Phil Cory, who said he didn’t get an invite to any of three previous mayoral debates, earned applause for promising his first act in office would be to “find more Tony Hsiehs.”
Perennial candidate Abdul Shabazz played up his real estate experience and lamented the city’s habit of “bullying” residents with their own tax dollars, referring to abatements and other public subsidies the city has offered to entice new development.
If none of Las Vegas’ four mayoral candidates emerges with more than 50 percent of next week’s primary vote, the top two vote-getters would square off for a general election scheduled June 2.
Contact James DeHaven at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-477-3839. Follow him on Twitter: @JamesDeHaven.