City Council studies options on filling Ward 2 seat

Once Las Vegas City Councilman Steve Wolfson departs to take a new job as Clark County district attorney, the City Council will have 30 days to appoint a new member or hold an election for someone to complete Wolfson’s term in Ward 2.

Already at least three people have said they’re interested in the job regardless of whether it comes by appointment or special election. The position has an annual salary of $72,742.

Community activist Donna Toussaint, Planning Commissioner Ric Truesdell and former Councilman Michael Mack each expressed a desire to finish Wolfson’s term, which expires in June 2013.

Toussaint, 65, and her husband, Greg Toussaint, are co-founders of The Lakes Festival of Lights, a free holiday event, and she is former president of the West Sahara Community Association, a homeowners association.

In 2008, Toussaint, a Republican, ran for the Legislature in Assembly District 5 but lost to Marilyn Dondero-Loop, D-Las Vegas, by 2,027 votes, about 11 percentage points.

She said maintaining the revival of downtown Las Vegas would be a priority.

"When I was a kid growing up in Las Vegas, everything was downtown," said Toussaint, who moved with her family to Las Vegas in 1953.

Truesdell, 57, is a planning commissioner first appointed about 10 years ago by then-Mayor Oscar Goodman and reappointed by current Mayor Carolyn Goodman. He is also a commercial real estate broker.

Truesdell ran against Wolfson and lost in a special election in 2004.

His wife, Trish, is a special assistant to the mayor, an appointed position.

He said he mostly agrees with the council’s direction when it comes to reviving downtown and didn’t foresee a need for great change.

"I don’t have a big criticism at all with the council," Truesdell said.

Mack, a fourth-generation pawnbroker, is a former member of the City Council who last held office in 2005. His tenure representing what was then Ward 6 included some high-profile controversies.

In one instance in 2003, Mack was filmed receiving a lap dance from a stripper at Cheetah’s, a club that was at the center of an FBI corruption investigation. Mack wasn’t implicated in the investigation, but he said it was embarrassing and pledged to forgo future visits to strip clubs.

In 2002 Mack was the subject of an ethics investigation for voting to block development of a car dealership without acknowledging he had received a $60,000 loan from a competing car dealer.

The ethics investigation ended with a ruling by a Las Vegas Municipal Court judge that Mack did not intentionally violate city ethics codes.

Mack had little to say when recently asked via email whether he was interested in the council seat. His one-word reply was "Yes."

Another potential candidate, attorney Ross Goodman, said he might be interested in joining the council "at some point" but stopped short of declaring he would seek Wolfson’s seat.

Goodman, an attorney, is the son of Carolyn and Oscar Goodman. He acknowledged that his mother holding the job of mayor could complicate his joining the council.

"That is definitely an issue that would need to be addressed," Goodman said. "If I were to seriously explore it, the first thing I would do is have that discussion with my mom."

The City Council hasn’t yet decided how it will fill the vacancy left by Wolfson.

If it chooses an appointment, it would have 30 days after Wolfson’s resignation to make a choice.

If it chooses an election, it would have 30 days from the resignation to call the election, which would give the city clerk 30 days to complete it.

Carolyn Goodman and council members Stavros Anthony and Ricki Barlow said they are undecided on how to proceed. Council members Lois Tarkanian and Bob Coffin said they are leaning toward an appointment. Wolfson did not return a call for comment.

"I’d rather have an appointment, just get it over with," said Coffin, who said someone with previous experience in office could be a good choice.

"We need the slot to be filled. We have too much to do without worrying about an extended campaign."

The seat for Ward 2, which includes the southwest part of the city, will be up for election in 2013.

Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at bspillman@ or 702-229-6435.

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