Updated June 17, 2020 - 9:05 am
Las Vegas City Councilwoman Michele Fiore on Tuesday gave up the title of mayor pro tem, after coming under fire for “racially charged” remarks she is said to have made at the Clark County Republican Party convention June 6.
But Fiore told reporters that her decision to step away from her appointed position had nothing to do with the controversy over her comments opposing affirmative action.
Instead Fiore, who will remain on the City Council representing Ward 6, said she will focus on bridging a nationwide racial divide and being committed to “meaningful and lasting change,” which she said starts with town halls and community outreach.
“Right now my time would be better spent on a course of action that will help repair the many hurting communities who have been affected by this deep divide,” Fiore said.
Mayor Carolyn Goodman, who appeared with Fiore in the joint news conference in the lobby of City Hall, thanked Fiore for her work over the past year as the mayor pro tem. That person fills in for the mayor when she is absent or unavailable, and takes over as mayor if the office were to become vacant.
“I can attest to the fact that I believe in no way can Mayor Pro Tem Fiore ever be considered or have been considered a racist or a bigot,” Goodman said. “She has just been loyal and giving to every community all the time.”
Racially charged remarks
While a recording of Fiore’s remarks at the county GOP convention has yet to surface, Councilman Cedric Crear described in a letter to Goodman last week what witnesses have reported Fiore said in opposition to affirmative action: “I am a white woman and I should not lose my job because of their black asses.”
The county party and several Republican delegates, including black conservative activist Niger Innis, a friend of Fiore’s, have reported hearing something similar, although Innis denied what Fiore said was racist. Fiore apologized last week to anyone who might have been offended, but said her remarks were being portrayed inaccurately and taken out of context in media reports.
Richard MacLean, the county Republican Party’s chief of staff, said on June 8 he estimated the party had received more than 100 calls expressing dismay over the comments, including that “white lives matter.” Fiore told reporters Thursday she had said that all lives mattered.
The controversy has led a group, “Expel Michele,” to initiate a recall effort against Fiore.
Crear said in a statement Tuesday that “today isn’t a day for celebration.” The councilman, who is the lone black member of the council, had asked Goodman to remove Fiore as mayor pro tem.
“It’s truly unfortunate it has come to this, but there is no place for divisiveness and bigotry at City Hall,” he said. “I am more committed than ever to fighting systemic racism in all its forms, and I know that we can count on the mayor to appoint a replacement who shares that same commitment.”
Anthony could replace Fiore
Goodman said that Councilman Stavros Anthony, the most senior member of the council who served as mayor pro tem during Goodman’s first term in office from 2011-15, is likely to be her choice to resume the role. Anthony ran against Goodman for mayor in 2015, but he lost in the primary and was replaced after the election as mayor pro tem by then-Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian.
The mayor pro tem appointment must be approved by a council majority and could be presented to city lawmakers next month.
Anthony is also the Republican candidate for the county commission in District C. If he wins that race in November over former Secretary of State Ross Miller, it would leave the mayor pro tem position vacant again.
Underscoring that “there is no room for racial division,” Fiore repeatedly declined as she did last week to repeat exactly what she said during the GOP convention that caused a public rebuke from the county party.
But she said she will be focused on the work ahead, which includes not only healing the community but also fighting against rioting and looting in the city. And as a newly re-elected Nevada GOP national committeewoman, she said her efforts beyond Las Vegas will be to see that President Donald Trump is given another four years in the White House.