weather icon Clear

City Hall veterans push Medical District in Las Vegas Ward 1 race

Updated May 27, 2019 - 4:26 am

If Brian Knudsen is elected to the Las Vegas City Council, expect one bold push during his tenure: a children’s hospital. Should Robin Munier be the choice of voters, plans will be, in part, to stay the course of her predecessor.

Munier, a longtime special assistant to Mayor Pro Tem Lois Tarkanian, is perhaps unsurprisingly deferential to the term-limited councilwoman, calling her “a pioneer.” In return, Tarkanian has endorsed Munier to take over for her in Ward 1, believing her experience matches the seat more than Knudsen’s does.

“It’s kind of like a marriage in some ways, and kind of like a friendship,” Munier said of her relationship with Tarkanian, who she has worked alongside in City Hall for more than 14 years and for 12 years before that when Tarkanian was a Clark County school board member.

Knudsen and Munier enter the June 11 general election as one-two finishers in the April primary, where Knudsen won 27 percent of ballots cast, outgunning Munier by more than 300 votes. He has also doubled her fundraising during the first quarter of the year and outspent her.

Munier said she wants to keep progress in offering coding classes in schools, encouraging neighborhood associations to be more active and upgrading city parks and pedestrian safety — all projects started by Tarkanian with Munier heavily involved. But Munier also says she’s got more ideas, stemming from her years of public service dating to her days with the Nevada Parent Teacher Association.

In separate interviews this week, both Munier and Knudsen — who has been endorsed by Mayor Carolyn Goodman and a slew of major labor groups — pitched their backgrounds and specific ideas for the district. Much of the conversation revolved around building out the Medical District, which although a small part of the ward, has been touted as potentially the city’s next big enterprise.

Medical on the mind

Knudsen, 40, said he entered the race believing he fielded the right combination of experience and education to improve access to health care in the community. A USC alum with a graduate degree in public administration, he spent nine years in City Hall managing council staff and overseeing difficult cuts to programs and employees during the height of the recession. He briefly served as CEO of the Boys &Girls Club, and then became a consultant.

He said he was motivated to run for office amid worries that the next council person would overlook the significance of the UNLV School of Medicine as a cornerstone in the district.

“Looking at the optics of our community, and what people in poverty need, health care is almost non-existent for a large portion of our community, especially mental health care systems,” he said.

His push is focused on doctors, particularly keeping them in Las Vegas after they graduate. The school will ultimately graduate 60 doctors in two years, he noted, and 120 doctors by 2023. Each will require staff members. The city must develop the medical office space, infrastructure and housing, he added, while boosting education to be attractive to their children.

A health scare with his own 3-year-old daughter is what Knudsen said sparked his desire to build a full-fledged children’s hospital, even if he understood that public opinion may be slow to catch up. Yet it’s the government’s obligation to think five and 10 years ahead, he said.

Munier also talked about a fear of losing doctors to other states like California without protections in place. She said she would convene an ad hoc committee of medical professionals to prevent that. She wants to expand medical residencies as part of the solution. Both she and Knudsen have lamented shortcomings in health care that have people going elsewhere for treatment.

“That shouldn’t be. Not in a city of our size, not in a city with the wealth that we have or the valley that we have,” Munier said. “That’s just unreasonable in my opinion.”

Homeless help

Munier said city staffers have given “more than 110 percent” to cobble resources together for the homeless courtyard project, but she is quick to note that city taxpayers cannot be the only funding source. Instead, she suggested taking a step back, calling herself a “big- picture person,” and establishing a multi-agency nonprofit to carry the load with the city role reduced to an equal partner, not the leader.

The courtyard presents “initial first steps,” according to Knudsen. But a coordinated system for helping the homeless is a missing link, he said, and addressing mental health, addiction and basic needs is critical.

Ultimately, the city does not need to rely entirely on city tax dollars, he concluded, but should instead rally county, state and federal partners, build out housing with federal aid and negotiate with the Regional Transportation Commission and Department of Health and Human Services to discuss local transportation funding.

“And that’s where I’m hopeful to use the bully pulpit of the city council to fight and advocate for those kinds of relationships that really do matter at the end of the day for people in poverty,” he said.

Contact Shea Johnson at sjohnson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @Shea_LVRJ on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Las Vegas
Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris castigated President Donald Trump’s merit-based immigration plan, saying it was “short-sighted” and overlooked the cultural significance of family, during a campaign stop in Las Vegas. “We cannot allow people to start parsing and pointing fingers and creating hierarchies among immigrants,” Harris told Asian Pacific Islander leaders at a Chinatown restaurant, one of two appearances she made Thursday.
The Right Take New Education Funding Plan - VIDEO
On Monday, Senate Education Committee chair Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, released a new education funding formula. For years, many Democrat politicians have criticized the current education funding formula, called the Nevada Plan. They claim it’s old and outdated. Their biggest beef is that it doesn’t allocate more money for students who are English Language Learners or live in poverty. The theory is that it’s harder to educate those students and so they need additional services, which costs additional money.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Nevada
California Senator Kamala Harris meets with One APIA Nevada, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies empowering Asian Pacific Islander Nevadans. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ben Carson talks housing (Audio only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Ben Carson visits the RJ (Full Audio Only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Nevada
After campaigning at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 16 in Henderson, former Vice President Joe Biden spoke with the Review-Journal.
Student serenades Mayor Carolyn Goodman at swearing in
Students from the school she founded, The Meadows School, serenaded Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman during a swearing in ceremony for her third and final term. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Al Gore Speaks At UNLV About Climate Change - Video
Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore talks to an audience at UNLV about the effects of Climate change and how to switch to renewable sources of energy.
Forum on Wages and Working People Highlights - VIDEO
Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, and John Hickenlooper speak in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nevada Politics Today Valerie Weber - VIDEO
Valerie Weber sits down with Victor Joecks to discuss her policies and why she is running for Ward 2 of the Las Vegas City Council.
Cory Booker speaks at UNLV
US Senator Cory Booker speaks at UNLV during a Young Democrats meet and greet on Thursday, April 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
May-Brown describes why some with disabilities need the subminimum wage - VIDEO
Eliminating the subminimum wage will end training and work opportunities for some members of the disabled community. Instead of doing something productive, they would be relegated to adult day care. That’s according to Tracy May-Brown, Opportunity Village’s director of advocacy, board and government relations.
Commission’s decision will delay Red Rock Canyon development
The Clark County Commission Wednesday rejected a developer’s request to approve a preliminary plan for 3,000 homes overlooking Red Rock Canyon before a federal agency grants permission for a roadway leading to the site.
Clark County commissioner calls on landlords to bring properties up to code
Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom has called on landlords in older parts of the valley to bring their properties up to code and keep them well-maintained or face the prospect of inspections, fines and citations. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Harry Reid speaks out against anti-Semitism
Unnerved by the rise in anti-Semitic hate speech and the general pervasiveness of bigotry, including in Nevada, former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid organized an educational forum at UNLV on Thursday as part of his call to unite people against it. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
President Trump speaks to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas
President Donald Trump spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s National Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas and updated on Israeli relations. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump says border wall will have 'hundreds of miles' built by end of next year
President Donald Trump spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s National Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas and discussed the progress of the border wall and the current relations there. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Protesters disrupt Trump's speech
Just as President Donald Trump started to make his opening remarks during his appearance at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s National Leadership Meeting, protesters disrupted his speech. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Roerink On The Problems With Taking Water From Eastern Nevada - Video
The Southern Nevada Water Authority wants to take billions of gallons of water that doesn’t exist from Eastern Nevada via a pipeline that would cost ratepayers $15 billion. Doing so would devastate the wildlife and people who live there. That’s according to Kyle Roerink, executive director of the Great Basin Water Network, which opposes the pipeline.
Las Vegas Election Night Wrap-Up
The Review-Journal's Politics and Government Editor, Steve Sebelius, wraps up election night. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Olivia Diaz Speaks To Ward 3 Supporters After Primary Election - Video
Olivia Diaz speaks to her supporters at a election party after results started coming in for the Ward 3 primaries.
Oscar Goodman Speaks On Behalf Of Mayor At Primary Win (edited)
Oscar Goodman spoke Tuesday night on behalf of his wife, Carolyn, who won the mayoral primary election. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Oscar Goodman Speaks On Behalf Of Mayor At Primary Win (Full)
Oscar Goodman spoke Tuesday night on behalf of his wife Carolyn, who won the mayoral primary election. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Gun Debate Shows Limits Of Government - Video
On Monday, the Assembly and Senate Judiciary Committees held a joint hearing on Assembly Bill 291. It would ban bump stocks and allow local governments to pass additional restrictions on firearms.
Lucy Flores speaks out about Biden incident
Former Nevada assemblywoman, Lucy Flores, expresses her feelings about an incident with former Vice President Joe Biden in 2014. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Harry Reid takes the stand in injury lawsuit
Former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid took the stand on Thursday in the product liability lawsuit brought against the makers of a resistance exercise band that Reid blames for blinding him in one eye.
Jurors hear opening statements in Reid personal injury trial
Opening statements were made on Tuesday in the product liability lawsuit brought by Harry Reid against against the makers of a resistance exercise band that Reid blames for blinding him in one eye.
Mayor Goodman delivers Meals on Wheels
Mayor Carolyn Goodman delivers Meals on Wheels to seniors on March 26, 2019.
Las Vegas City Council Ward 1 race
Candidates for Las Vegas City Council Ward 1. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Beto O’Rourke campaigns in Las Vegas
Democratic presidential candidate and former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke addresses attendees during a campaign stop at Arandas Taqueria in Las Vegas on Sunday, March 24, 2019. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Beto O'Rourke House Party in Las Vegas
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke delivered a message of unity inside a Las Vegas living room Saturday night, outlining a mission to bridge the divide in a polarized America and rally behind “big defining ambitions that we have in common.” (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand talks at Atomic Liquors
Democrat presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand talks to her supporters at Atomic Liquors.
Presidential candidate Gillibrand meets with UNLV Immigration Clinic student attorneys
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., meets with UNLV Immigration Clinic student attorneys at her first stop in Nevada as a candidate Thursday, March 21, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto promotes the Rebuild America’s Schools Act
U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., co-sponsor of the Rebuild America’s Schools Act, speaks at Hoggard Elementary School in Las Vegas to promote the bill that would provide $100 billion for infrastructure improvements at schools across the country. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto