Las Vegas Ward 6 Councilman Steve Ross probably won’t mount a legal challenge to a recall petition aimed at forcing a special election to oust him from office, a spokesman said.
Steve Redlinger, spokesman for Ross, said the councilman instead will dedicate his energy to reminding voters why they elected him in the first place.
“I don’t know that we are going to challenge it; I know we feel just fine with our prospects putting it in the hands of the voters,” Redlinger said Thursday. “We have a record, we’re proud of it, and we are going to run on it.”
On Wednesday, the Clark County registrar of voters and Nevada secretary of state certified as valid 1,105 signatures the Committee to Recall Steve Ross submitted to the Las Vegas city clerk. The group needed 1,085 to force a special election.
It was the recall committee’s second try to force a special election. In August, the group fell about 25 signatures short.
By not challenging the latest petition Ross is forcing his opponents to defeat him by ballot rather than running the risk that a challenge could fail or, even if it succeeded, result in the remainder of his term being hampered by continued recall signature drives.
What the decision to let the petition stand unchallenged means to the recall committee is less clear.
Before submitting the signatures, the group indicated it would announce a candidate to challenge Ross once the petition was certified.
But after leaders of the group met Wednesday, they said campaign laws limit their activity to the recall, and they would not be announcing a candidate.
“We have to really just stand down and not be involved in any of the candidates,” recall organizer Lisa Mayo-DeRiso said. “Candidates are on their own to announce; they need to do their own thing.”
Already one candidate has emerged, longtime Planning Commissioner Byron Goynes, who challenged Ross and lost in an 11-candidate primary in 2005.
Another potential candidate, Jennifer Taylor, who lost to Ross in 2009, hasn’t ruled out another challenge.
The anti-Ross movement in Ward 6 dates back roughly a year to a dispute between the councilman and car dealer Joe Scala.
Scala wanted Ross’ support for a waiver from a land-use requirement that his dealership have an affiliation with an automobile manufacturer and sell new vehicles.
Scala said Ross supported a similar waiver for another dealer who had made campaign contributions and said the support was connected to the donations, which Ross denied.
Scala didn’t get the waiver and was forced to close his dealership on
Dec. 24, 2010.
He went on to air a series of anti-Ross television ads and spent more than $50,000 on the recall committee.
The ads became the subject of charges from the Nevada attorney general’s office, which alleges Scala’s failure to report them as campaign expenditures violated state law.
Despite the bad blood between Ross and Scala, other recall organizers say they are driven by more than the dealership dispute.
On a website called TossRoss.com they cite the councilman’s decision to break a promise to reject a City Council pay raise and his support for a developer’s effort to build a tavern near a YMCA as reasons for voters to oust Ross.
Redlinger said that anti-Ross sentiment is not representative of the average voter in Ward 6 and that he expects the councilman to prevail in a special election, which by law will be held fewer than 50 days from today.
“The voters are going to have their say,” Redlinger said.
Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-229-6435.