Soccer stadium controversy on minds of early Vegas voters

The often-criticized downtown soccer stadium project was very much on the minds of Las Vegans Saturday, the first day of early voting.

In the midst of one of the city’s most closely watched mayoral races in recent history, several voters interviewed at Meadows mall took sides on the apparently failed stadium project, which cost the city an estimated $3.1 million just to set up, with no construction occurring.

One voter, Bev Hampton, wouldn’t specify whether she voted for mayoral race front-runners Carolyn Goodman or Stavros Anthony, but said her opposition to the soccer stadium project motivated her to show up early.

“I don’t think they should ever take taxpayers’ money for that,” said Hampton, 68, who moved to Las Vegas from New York in 2011.

Other voters said they supported the stadium project, saying a professional sports team in Las Vegas could bring more business to the valley.

“We all benefit from the income that comes into the city,” said Sue Guffy, 65. “If the stadium was successful, you really never know what it could have been capable of.”

Greg Heiny, 58, a retired police officer and military veteran, indicated that the stadium controversy had nothing to do with him voting early. He said he voted to fulfill what he considered a duty, and came in early to check it off his daily “to-do” list.

“I just take pleasure in voting,” Heiny said. “Why not come early and get it done with?”

A total of 491 Las Vegans voted Saturday at Meadows and 1,501 across the city’s four polling locations, according to the Clark County Election Department’s website. A total of 2,424 votes had been placed valleywide through Saturday, including 544 in Henderson and 379 in North Las Vegas since early voting started at City Hall on Wednesday. North Las Vegas received just 54 votes before Saturday.

The primary comes just four years after a record turnout of 19,967 Las Vegans, or nearly 9 percent of eligible voters, voting early in 2011, according to public records. In that election, Carolyn Goodman was elected to succeed her husband, Oscar Goodman, who had been mayor of Las Vegas since 1999.

First-day early voting turnout in that election was 1,325 in Las Vegas. First-day turnout was 380 in Henderson and the Wednesday through Saturday turnout was 233 in North Las Vegas.

Though 2013 early voting numbers numbers dipped to under 7,000, local experts say turnouts are always higher when the mayor is up for election.

Michael Green, a political science and history professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas honors college, said the combination of a new mayor and a closely anticipated race motivated Las Vegans to turn out early in 2011. Though municipal elections usually produce significantly lower turnout than statewide elections, Green expects a competitive race between Goodman and Anthony to produce a strong turnout in 2015.

“For the voter, the mayor’s race is the biggie,” Green told the Review-Journal. “It’s like the difference between the presidential elections and the midterm turnout.”

In addition to Goodman and Anthony, Internet marketer Phil Cory and perennial candidate Abdul H. Shabazz are also running for mayor.

The early voting period continues until April 3. Election Day for the municipal primary is April 7, and Election Day for the general election is June 2.

To access short-term and long-term early voting locations, dates and times, visit http://www.clarkcountynv.gov/Depts/election/Documents/2015/EVSched_15P.pdf.

Contact Chris Kudialis at ckudialis@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0283. Find him on Twitter: @kudialisrj.

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