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North Las Vegas council OKs new Ward 4 precinct vote

Voters in one North Las Vegas precinct will get a redo in a disputed City Council election.

Three council members approved a July 19 election in Precinct 4306, but only after the mayor and one of incumbent councilman in that ward excused themselves during a special meeting Thursday.

An ineligible voter was allowed to cast a ballot June 7, tainting the results of the Ward 4 race in which dentist Wade Wagner defeated incumbent Councilman Richard Cherchio by a single vote.

After the mistake was discovered, the council had to decide whether to canvass the results and let the vote stand or to revote. An earlier attempt to reschedule the election ended up in court.

"Obviously, we’re disappointed," Wagner said. "Any voter (in the other precincts in Ward 4) that doesn’t get the opportunity to vote in this new election has been disenfranchised, absolutely."

But Councilwoman Anita Wood said she did what she felt was right by voting in favor of a new election.

"It’s not because I lack moral character or … I want to give my candidate another chance," said Wood, who disclosed she donated to Cherchio’s campaign. "I can’t certify an ‘I don’t know.’ This needs to go back in the hands of the voters. Voters alone get to determine who sits in these seats."

Wood, Mayor Pro Tem William Robinson and Councilman Robert Eliason voted for the new election.

Mayor Shari Buck abstained from the vote and left her seat a few minutes into the meeting.

"I have grave concerns that the direction this council has chosen to go in is not only wrong but illegal," said Buck, who supported Wagner. "The city attorney, Matt Griffin, previously gave us a recommendation to canvass the votes, but the council has chosen to disregard that opinion. … I’m very concerned about this prospect and what’s going on."

Cherchio also excused himself from the vote.

"Being a council person I feel that it is inappropriate for me to hear discussions and dialogue concerning the election process," he said.

His term ended at midnight Thursday, and the Ward 4 seat will remain empty until the results of the election are final.

Larry Lomax, Clark County registrar of voters, outlined the key dates in the election:

■ By Tuesday : Letters will be sent to eligible voters in Precinct 4306 explaining why the re-election is taking place and giving details on how and where to vote.

■ July 11-15: Early voting from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Clark County Election Department, 965 Trade Drive.

■ July 12: Last day to request a mail-in ballot.

■ July 19: Voting at Sedway Middle School, 3465 Englestad St.

Precinct 4306 runs from Cheyenne Avenue to Alexander Road and from Revere Street to approximately Interstate 15. Only 110 people in the precinct voted. There are 1,248 eligible voters in the Ward who will be allowed to cast ballots.

Despite losing the election, Cherchio won in that precinct 56 to 54.

Last week, the council was supposed to set the date for a revote in the precinct during a special meeting. Minutes before that meeting began, District Judge Allan Earl granted a temporary restraining order that prohibited the council from proceeding.

The order stopped the city from "preparing or conducting a new election in Ward 4,"

Former Mayor Michael Montandon and Jay King, both Ward 4 residents, filed the motion for the restraining order — arguing that the council violated the state’s open meeting law when it approved a new election because that action was not listed on the meeting’s agenda.

The contest between Cherchio, 64, and Wagner, 48, was overshadowed by the war between Cherchio and the city’s public safety unions. The police and fire unions opposed Cherchio, campaigning against him door to door, because he was among council members who voted for cuts to public safety to save money in the cash-strapped city.

Cherchio was appointed to the council in 2009. Council members serve four-year terms and are paid $41,827 a year.

Contact Downtown and North Las Vegas View reporter Kristi Jourdan at kjourdan@viewnews.com or 383-0492.

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