Before going to college, Alfredo Melesio Jr., director of land development and community services for North Las Vegas, did not intend to work in government. But when he needed a job during summer break in 1994, the city of Joliet, Illinois, was one of the few employers to respond to his application.
Melesio, then 21, spent the summer working for the city’s community and economic development department.
“Summer jobs were hard to come by, so I thought this was a great opportunity,” he said. “I was looking for an opportunity to serve in some capacity.”
Each summer and during spring breaks at the University of Illinois at Chicago, he kept coming back to his hometown to work. After getting his masters degree in urban planning and policy, he was hired full time as a planner for the city in 1998.
“They really couldn’t get rid of me,” he said. “There was a lot of work with the housing boom that was going on, and I was ready to pitch in.”
In 2007, he became director of neighborhood services for Joliet, about 45 miles southwest of Chicago. In that position, he helped secure more than $1.3 million in annual grants, $500 million in redevelopment projects and the construction of more than $7 million in new or rehabilitation projects, according to the city’s website.
But after working in Joliet for 20 years, Melesio applied for a job in North Las Vegas. He started work April 3, replacing former Director Gregory Blackburn, who resigned in 2016, North Las Vegas building official Valarie Evans said.
Melesio moved to the city with his wife of 20 years, Nora, and their two children, ages 11 and 8. Having only visited North Las Vegas once for the interview, Melesio didn’t know what to expect.
“It was time for me to move to a community just like (Joliet) that had great growth and opportunity, and this really was more than I ever thought it was,” he said. “We are in many ways leading growth in the valley, and I was really blown away by that. … I just wanted to be a part of that.”
Melesio is in charge of six divisions: building safety; business licensing; code enforcement; fire prevention; graffiti and community improvement; and planning and zoning. He leads about 50 employees.
“We need to make sure that everyone sees us as a community partner, and that’s the only way I know how to work,” he said.
Co-workers say Melesio has already made an impact.
“We had stuff we were actually waiting for him to come and direct us and take the lead,” Evans said. “He got here and he started working right away. … I’ve gotten this really great mentor.”
Thomas Martens, the city’s acting code-enforcement manager in the graffiti division, said Melesio is “very hands on.”
“(Melesio has) taken quite a bit of initiative to learn things,” Martens said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what he will actually bring.”
Melesio’s goal in North Las Vegas is to convince residents, especially younger ones, that local government can be effective.
“I had a lot of family that was critical of local government as I think we all do around the kitchen table and I think in many ways that drives my desire to work locally because I know we can have an impact and I really am out to convince everyone I know and related to that local government is where the action is and we get things done and we are here to serve you.”