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John Lee will not run for Kihuen’s seat in Congress

Updated March 14, 2018 - 4:52 pm

After much speculation, North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee told the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Tuesday that he will not be running for Congress.

Lee, a Democrat, said he opted to not run for the 4th Congressional District after several homebuilders, business lobbyists, investors, employee unions and others asked him to stay put as mayor and complete a series of projects that have helped bolster the city’s struggling economy.

“We’re excited about the future of NLV, so much to the fact that I want to make sure it’s solidified, because there’s too much undone,” Lee said from his office at North Las Vegas City Hall.

“What drove me at the beginning of this was the fact we need a congress member who understands the needs of this district and who’s going to be accountable to us,” Lee said. “I’m letting the next congress member know that you will be graded on how hard you work toward benefiting North Las Vegas.”

Lee said his decision was not based on a series of events surrounding the departure of former North Las Vegas City Manager Qiong Liu, who is accused of attempting to give herself a $30,000 pay raise in January.

Liu has called the allegations a “personal vendetta” aimed at keeping her from collecting a hefty severance payment and elevating interim City Manager Ryann Juden, a longtime associate of Lee’s. City officials have not determined whether to search for a permanent city manager or allow Juden to remain in the role.

“I had nothing to do with that, and the same team is here except for her,” Lee said. “That has nothing to do with my decision at all.”

Lee served 14 years in the Nevada Legislature before being elected mayor of North Las Vegas in 2013. Shortly before he was re-elected last year, Lee said that he did not plan to seek a third term in 2021.

Incumbent Rep. Ruben Kihuen said in December that he will not seek re-election amid allegations of sexual harassment. However, he is reconsidering his decision to run for a district that takes in most of northern Clark County, southern Lyon County and all of Esmeralda, Lincoln, Mineral, Nye and White Pine counties.

Six candidates have filed for the seat: Democrats John Anzalone and Amy Vilela; Republicans David Gibbs and Cresent Hardy; Libertarian Gregg Luckner; and nonpartisan candidate Dean McGonigle.

Contact Art Marroquin at amarroquin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0336. Follow @AMarroquin_LV on Twitter.

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