Ryann Juden, a longtime friend and associate of North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, was appointed Wednesday night as city manager, three months after a dispute with his predecessor got him fired, rehired and promoted to the role temporarily.
The North Las Vegas City Council opted out of conducting a wider search for a permanent city manager and unanimously selected Juden, who has a resume light on municipal administration other than serving as assistant city manager for more than two years.
He will earn $220,000 annually under a two-year contract to oversee the day-to-day operations of Nevada’s fourth-most populous city.
“We’re going to continue working hard to turn the corner in North Las Vegas,” Juden said. “We have a great team, so I’m excited about the internal and external support that I’m getting.”
Juden was named interim city manager in January following a dispute with his predecessor, Qiong Liu. The City Council voted Feb. 7 to fire Liu “for cause” rather than allowing her to resign amid allegations that the former city manager attempted to give herself a $30,000 retroactive raise.
Last month, the council agreed to go into arbitration with Liu to discuss the circumstances of her firing and whether she is entitled to receive a severance package on top of the $300,000 that she cashed out in accrued vacation, holiday and sick pay.
A North Las Vegas planning commissioner spoke in favor of Juden’s appointment on Wednesday, along with a citizens’ advisory committee member, a representative for several landowners at Apex Industrial Park and officials from the labor unions covering city employees and police officers.
Juden’s career path took some unusual turns leading him to the role of city manager, when compared with those in similar roles who traditionally spend years — sometimes decades — working their way up the municipal ladder.
After receiving a law degree from the University of Iowa College of Law, Juden worked as a research associate for a law firm. Juden does not belong to any state bar associations and has not disclosed if he ever took the bar exam to become a lawyer.
Juden said he met Lee through the Mormon church shortly after moving to Southern Nevada in 2005. He later worked as a policy consultant for several lawmakers including Lee, who served 14 years in the Legislature.
Juden went on to work for Lee’s mayoral campaign in 2013. Juden was named chief of staff shortly after Lee took office and was appointed in 2015 as assistant city manager.
Councilman Isaac Barron said he didn’t see a need to seek applicants for the city manager job because the council has been “test driving” Juden for months.
“Maybe he’s got a long way to go still; I don’t know,” Barron said. “But I think we’re moving in the right direction with a person who shows that he has vision, that he has a different style that seems to be meshing well with the city leaders of the city here, and I would be very much in favor of making this permanent.”