Las Vegas council members Lois Tarkanian and Gary Reese, like the eminently popular Mayor Oscar Goodman, clobbered their challengers to win re-election outright in Tuesday’s primary election.
Tarkanian took home 57 percent of the vote to the 27 percent of her nearest challenger, police officer and former sheriff candidate Laurie Bisch. Reese won 86 percent of the vote and Goodman 84 percent, in an election in which one vote over 50 percent was needed to avoid a runoff.
Goodman, 68, and Reese, 65, had been expected to win easily, but even Tarkanian was surprised at her margin of victory.
“Truth and justice is alive in Ward 1,” said Tarkanian, 72, who represents the ward. “They didn’t fall for all that slime.”
In the 10-person race for the Ward 5 seat vacated by Lawrence Weekly, Ricki Barlow and Stacie Truesdell won 43 percent and 29 percent of the vote, respectively, to advance to the June 5 general election.
Total turnout in Tuesday’s municipal primary elections across Clark County was 15.3 percent of eligible registered voters. Turnout was 18.3 percent four years ago, the last time Las Vegans voted for a mayor.
In other Las Vegas Valley races, North Las Vegas incumbent Councilwoman Shari Buck sailed into a third and final term as Ward 4’s representative. In Henderson, Andy Hafen narrowly won a sixth term on the Henderson City Council, while voters chose Gerri Schroder to replace longtime Councilwoman Amanda Cyphers.
In the race for the Las Vegas Municipal Court Department 6 judgeship, Lynn Avants, a 37-year-old deputy public defender, and 42-year-old lawyer Martin Hastings got the most votes and will face off in the June 5 general election.
Goodman won his third and final four-year term with his next nearest competitor, council critic and former entertainer Tom McGowan, getting 7 percent of the vote.
For any other politician, that might have been cause to celebrate. But at his campaign party at downtown’s Ice House Lounge, which featured a showgirl and Elvis impersonator, Goodman made a sour face when he heard early results indicating he would not approach 90 percent.
“It is what it is,” he said. “We’re surrounded by great people tonight and are having a great time.”
Goodman had gotten nearly 86 percent of the vote four years ago and was privately telling people he was gunning for 90 percent this time.
In the Ward 1 race, polls by both campaigns had Tarkanian leading throughout. But with two solid opponents able to raise money, some thought Tarkanian would not avoid a June runoff.
Tarkanian, who was criticized by Bisch for maverick stances on the council, said voters did not believe the negative mailers sent against her.
“Voters want someone who asks question, who’s not voting the way everybody else votes,” Tarkanian said. “This is an affirmation of that kind of independent position.”
Bisch said low voter turnout hurt her.
“Tarkanian has been in Las Vegas longer than I’ve been,” she said. “People in a lot bigger numbers said they supported me. A lot just didn’t show up.”
Those who did show up at the polls said electing council members is important because they deal with issues such as traffic, crime and the quality of parks.
“I have a vested interest in the neighborhood,” said Bill Cruz, voting at Wasden Elementary School in Ward 1.
Dirk Ravenholt, also voting at Wasden, said that lower seats could be a jumping-off point for higher political office, pointing to former Municipal Court judges now on the state Supreme Court.
Bisch spent the day sitting on the open bed of a truck across the street from Wasden Elementary, waving at voters and talking to them as they walked to and from the polls.
“This is grass-roots politics,” she said.
Bisch had not called Tarkanian to concede late Tuesday night and continued with one of her campaign themes even after the race was decided.
“Not a whole lot has been done in neighborhoods and Ward 1,” Bisch said.
In Ward 5, 10 candidates faced off, nearly all jumping into the race after former Councilman Lawrence Weekly received an appointment to the Clark County Commission. Many contenders said they would not have filed if Weekly had sought re-election.
With Barlow, 35, and Truesdell, 26, the candidates were former Assemblyman Gene Collins, the Rev. Marion Bennett, former city worker Richard Blue, Sandra Summers-Armstrong, Katherine “Katie” Duncan, Jeffrey Loveall, Earnestine Howell and Marcia Washington.
Collins finished a distant third to Barlow and Truesdell, with 6 percent of the vote.
While Barlow and Truesdell had hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions, the rest of the field struggled to raise significant amounts of money.2007 Municipal ElectionsNews & voter info