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‘We will not repeat the mistakes of the past’: NLV mayor says city gaining momentum

Newly elected North Las Vegas Mayor Pamela Goynes-Brown, the first Black person to serve as a mayor in the state, told her constituents the city has come a long way in 10 years but is still gaining “momentum.”

Goynes-Brown listed the ways North Las Vegas has changed in the last decade, going from an almost bankrupt city led by a majority-white city government to an economically thriving, influential and minority-led city.

“The city is healthy financially, and we have a well-crafted and proven roadmap to success for a long-term future and durability of the city,” Goynes-Brown said during her first State of the City address. “We will not repeat the mistakes of the past.”

The city has changed drastically since her father, Theron Goynes, ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 1997 and was the first Black man to serve as a member of the North Las Vegas City Council. With the city now the 18th-most diverse in the country, the leaders of the government “look like the people we represent,” Goynes-Brown said.

“Now, I could certainly focus on why it took so long to get here, but what I choose to see is that it is here now, and that is a big deal,” she said. “Our babies can now say, ‘Wow, look at what happened in 2022 with Mayor Pamela Goynes-Brown — it can also happen to me.’”

In the last 10 years, North Las Vegas has become synonymous with economic development in Nevada, she said. The negative stigma historically attached to North Las Vegas compared to the other municipalities in the valley is no more, she said.

Today, the assessed taxable value in the city is $11 billion, a 180 percent increase from 2013 when it was $3.9 billion, she said. Two-thirds of all Southern Nevada companies that received incentives to come to the state settled in North Las Vegas.

The new mayor went over some major developments, such as the $5 billion Helios Health and Wellness Campus next to the VA hospital and the redevelopment of 19 acres to revitalize the downtown. The number of permits for affordable housing also increased from 334 multi-units to 1,257 units this year, she said, and 24 new restaurants have opened on “Restaurant Row” in the last three years.

The city has also increased federal funding. In 2019, North Las Vegas received $20 million in federal grants, and in 2021, the city received $121 million.

With community policing efforts, crime has also decreased, the mayor said. The North Las Vegas CARES Court was formed to help reduce recidivism and connect people to resources after they are released from jail. The city’s crime rate is higher than about 82 percent of U.S. cities, according to the City-Data.com crime index, but violent crimes and property crimes have decreased in the last five years.

The city is actively recruiting diverse candidates to join the police department, offering incentive packages with up to $40,000 in bonuses, she said.

While the city has come a long way, there are still areas for improvement. Goynes-Brown and the City Council have pushed the city manager and the parks director to update every park south of Craig Road in the city. Each park will receive a major update, such as new play equipment, a new splash pad, a dog park or lighting. Goynes-Brown said those funds will be incorporated into next year’s budget.

She also addressed any challenges to the 2022 election results, in which she defeated state Sen. Pat Spearman. State legislation co-introduced by Spearman, Senate Bill 184, would increase the number of seats on the City Council. Goynes-Brown is against the legislation, saying the council is doing a “phenomenal job” as is.

“Current attempts to dismantle the team that saved this city or change the election results will be fought with the tenacity one would expect from a girl who grew up in our scrappy little community,” Goynes-Brown said.

Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah on Twitter.

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