At times it resembled a hiring event for a new resort on the Strip: They all were dressed in their best business attire, and there were way more applicants than jobs available.
So it went Wednesday as the Henderson City Council pared down a group of 14 applicants to fill the Ward 2 seat left vacant when Andy Hafen was elected mayor.
In the end, the council selected the only woman in the running, UNLV administrator and city Planning Commissioner Debra March.
“I want you to know I won’t disappoint anyone,” March told council members after her selection. “I’m going to endeavor to do my best for the people of Henderson.”
She will be sworn in on July 21 and serve out the remaining two years of Hafen’s term in Ward 2.
March’s appointment marks the first time women have held a majority on the five-member council. She joins Gerri Schroder and Kathleen Boutin. The fifth council member is Steven Kirk.
The list of candidates March defeated included prominent developer Roland Sansone, retired police officer turned political consultant Stan Olsen, and current Las Vegas police officer Thomas Wagner, who came within 85 votes of upsetting Hafen in Ward 2 two years ago.
By the time she left City Hall on Wednesday, March had been loaded up with a thick stack of briefing documents.
March said she has never been a “political person,” but moving from the Planning Commission to the City Council “seemed like a natural progression” to her.
The 55-year-old moved to Nevada from her native Detroit in 1973.
She has worked extensively for the state of Nevada, including stints as a state park ranger at Lake Tahoe and Red Rock Canyon and as head of the Nevada Real Estate Division’s Las Vegas office.
Since 1996, March has worked as executive director of the Lied Institute for Real Estate Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
March said she considered running for the council a few years ago, but she decided against it when Hafen announced plans to seek re-election.
Hafen represented Ward 2 for 22 years before being elected last month to replace term-limited Mayor Jim Gibson.
Some predicted the appointment process could last for hours and reveal divisions among City Council members.
Instead, the whole thing lasted about 90 minutes, and most of that was taken up by short speeches by each of the candidates.
The applicants were allotted five minutes each to talk about themselves, but few needed that much time.
The candidates helped shorten the meeting by meeting privately with council members and city staff members in the days leading up to the selection.
Craig Schweisinger was the only applicant who didn’t meet with council members before Wednesday’s meeting, and he was the only one who drew questions from the council.
After the speeches, council members conducted an initial round of voting that cut the field to six.
In the final round of voting, March bested fellow finalists Sansone, Michael Lamoreaux, Stan Olsen, Thomas Wagner and Favil West.
“We had 14 awesome candidates, so you can see what a difficult decision we had,” Hafen said.
The council vacancy initially drew 16 applicants. D.J. Allen withdrew his name from consideration last week, and Sally Bomotti dropped out on Monday.
Contact reporter Henry Brean at hbrean @reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350.