Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman is seeking a third and final term on the city council. Standing between her and re-election are six challengers who believe too many people have been left behind as the city has grown.
Although they are reluctant to criticize Goodman, her challengers have cast their candidacies as a return to community above glitz and glamour, reversing the direction of a role they view as having shifted into a figurehead.
“What I don’t want to have happened is, I don’t want someone to become mayor in this city because they say, ‘Hey, it’s a prestigious job to have and all I have to do is shake hands and drink martinis,” said Mack Miller, a small-business owner who has faced his share of scrutiny.
Still, Miller called Goodman a “wonderful lady.” Business consultant Amy Luciano said she “won’t trash Goodman,” and community advocate Vance Sanders insisted he had “much respect” for the mayor and her family.
“I’m not running against the Goodmans,” Sanders said. “I’m running for a seat that needs to be filled. This is not personal.”
But it is clear that candidates believe change is needed, and that they can enact it, although it promises to be a tough proposition, given that voters re-elected Goodman four years ago by nearly 5,000 votes over a sitting councilman.
The mayor, who announced in January she had breast cancer and said this week physicians have been “delighted” with how she has responded to treatment, has sent no mailers or commissioned any robo-calls during the campaign. There has been a television ad, electronic billboards and yard signs, which she said her husband, former three-term Mayor Oscar Goodman, is passionate about.
“Other than that, I’ve been trying to be low-key,” Goodman said.
If elected to a third term, Goodman, 79, said she wants to depart Las Vegas politics knowing the city is robust with job opportunity, fair education for all, quality health care and accessible parks — in other words, the qualities of a world-class city — while acknowledging, “we’re not there yet.”
“For me, it’s all about trying to stabilize what we have and improve upon it,” she said.
Her goals: a free transportation loop that moves people through downtown, transitional housing for the homeless and renewed cooperation with Clark County to solve the homelessness problem. Goodman said she has met two to three times with county Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick on the issue since Kirkpatrick became chairwoman in January, suggesting the wall between the two entities is being chipped away.
A homelessness action plan mentioned by several candidates involves refurbishing vacant buildings downtown for affordable housing.
Tina Rane Alexander, a nonprofit chief executive, said she would seek to add job skills training to the services offered in those buildings to assist the “hidden Vegas,” or those she said have not benefited from a tourist-focused economy.
Beyond creating new resources, Alexander, 47, said she wants to help the underserved access available aid, push the Legislature to bolster domestic violence laws and work to remove illegal weapons from the streets.
She said that in work for her nonprofit for at-risk youth, It’s OK 2B Different, she mentors young people whose parents are incarcerated and delivers free baked goods and toys on Christmas to low-income areas — the sort of community involvement she says is integral for city leadership.
“I’m just an ordinary person trying to do extraordinary things,” she said.
Sanders, 24, a 6-foot-10-inch minister with the nickname “Stretch,” revels in being what he says is the youngest Las Vegas mayoral candidate ever. He began organizing rallies five years ago to protest police killings of unarmed black men and to push for a $15 federal minimum wage.
His campaign is rooted in unifying the city around community issues: combating racial injustice, advocating for a living wage and pushing for enhanced homeless services, calling the epidemic a “state of emergency.”
He said the city has shown it “does not care” about the homeless if it will ticket people who feed them. The issue becomes a public safety concern when individuals commit crimes to survive.
“I understand that this is a reality,” he said. “We don’t have to accept the reality.”
Navy veteran Phil Collins, 51, sees a lack of jobs, high taxes and crime. He says it’s “time to do something different.” His campaign is particularly focused on eliminating wasteful spending, such as when the city paid a homeless courtyard operator nearly $50,000 to end a contract, he said.
Those are funds that could have been directed to police and fire services, Collins said. He also wants to persuade owners of vacant downtown properties to either reopen them or sell them to someone who will.
Zachary Krueger, a marijuana industry worker, joined the race after searching for employment and finding the job pop up on his phone one day, viewing the role as a public servant and the opportunity as killing two birds with one stone.
“It’s a way to make money and to serve the community that’s allowed me to join it,” Krueger, 29, said.
He said he wants the marijuana industry opened beyond special interests to everyday entrepreneurs, a more transparent city relationship with the media and basic services returned to the city’s Historic Westside.
While the addition of sports teams to
Las Vegas is a powerful economic driver, the city must diversify available jobs, ensure equal access to justice and attack the “gritty” issues that it faces, according to Luciano.
Luciano, 42, supports legalizing brothels in the city as an avenue to empower workers and decrease the hold that pimps and drug dealers have on the sex industry.
“That would absolutely make Las Vegas unique,” she said.
Luciano also called for more conscious growth and for the city and county to partner on improving an educational system that lags behind the rest of the country.
Miller, 42, said the mayor has the ability to attend education hearings at county and state levels and to be invested in ensuring teachers have the tools to do their job while encouraging more parents to be involved in their children’s progress.
He said the city should subsidize facilities for homeless services and support the nonprofits already performing outreach, adding that he will also seek to delay business license fees until after a year in order to entice more entrepreneurs and enable small operations to grow.
The primary election is Tuesday. View more about the candidates here.