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Nevada’s 1st Black mayor takes office in North Las Vegas

Updated December 7, 2022 - 8:40 pm

Pamela Goynes-Brown and a childhood friend had agreed that they wouldn’t shed tears at the veteran lawmaker’s inauguration as the first Black mayor in Nevada history.

“I told my girlfriend for life that we’re not crying today … oh Lord,” Mayor Goynes-Brown told a packed City Hall during Wednesday’s ceremony. “She came in crying, and I said, ‘No, we’re not doing this today.’”

It wasn’t long into Goynes-Brown’s first public address as mayor, where she honored her loved ones — her “heartbeats” — that she wept into her prayer-positioned hands as she mentioned her father, who was sitting next to her.

Goynes-Brown officially took the helm of the City Council on Dec. 1 and on Wednesday took the ceremonial oath of office with fellow Councilmen Isaac Barron and Scott Black, who won re-election during this summer’s primaries.

Goynes-Brown replaces former Mayor John Lee, who forfeited re-election in a failed bid to become governor.

The veteran councilwoman and educator is limited to one mayoral term because Nevada law states that no one can be elected to serve on a local governing body if they’re already served longer than 12 years. A quirk of the calendar marked her election as mayor right before her third term as councilwoman came to a close.

Goynes-Brown, 60, previously said in an interview that there’s an immediacy to her tenure as mayor. Her four years would be a continuation of the work she had been doing on the council, allowing her to fulfill a mission already in motion and giving her time to put a “final stamp of approval on projects that we already in the books.”

“The faster we move, the quicker we can get shovels in the ground, and building will go vertical,” she told the Review-Journal.

Wednesday’s ceremony included an Honor Guard presentation, an invocation and a rendition of “God Bless America” by a child.

Then, one by one, the oaths of office commenced. Goynes-Brown received the loudest applause outburst.

“This is the cheap mascara, so we can’t cry today,” she quipped at one point as she wiped away tears.

“I love you so much,” she said as she turned to her parents. “Thank you for making me into the woman that I am today, I couldn’t have done it without you, dad,” Goynes-Brown added. “I couldn’t have done it without you, mom.”

She thanked city employees, the “amazing, talented, brilliant people on this side of the Earth,” who she has worked with since 2011.

She acknowledged Lee, who she described as a “great leader, great teacher, great mentor.”

Her tenure as mayor will be a “Chapter Two,” Goynes Brown said.

Goynes-Brown then addressed everyone else in the room.

“The mere fact that you’re here, just melts my heart,” she said. “This is a journey in my life that No. 1, I am so glad that I’m in this position; No. 2, it’s all about the constituents that we serve here in the city North Las Vegas, it’s all about making their lives better.”

A standing ovation followed, and Goynes-Brown approached her father and caressed his face.

Her sorority sisters then surrounded her and rocked their bodies as they sang a hymn, “Our Sweetheart Song.”

Contact Ricardo Torres-Cortez at rtorres@reviewjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @rickytwrites.

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