Updated June 9, 2019 - 2:14 pm
The local laborers union spent big to recall former Las Vegas City Councilman Steve Seroka before he resigned. Now its members have chosen who they want to replace him in Ward 2 — former Assemblywoman Victoria Seaman.
Tommy White, business manager and secretary/treasurer for Laborers Local 872, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal this week that the union was officially endorsing Seaman.
“We’re going to stick with Victoria,” he said.
Days before Tuesday’s election, White said Seaman was simply the only one of seven office seekers to actively reach out to the union, though that has been disputed by other candidates. Another candidate, contract analyst Patsy Brown, had been the preferred choice, according to White, but he claimed she had been keeping too low a profile.
Brown confirmed she would have been supported by the union. But she said she did not quit campaigning and that she has been dealing with other issues related to her candidacy.
Bruce Feher, a former real estate services business owner, did not try to wrest an endorsement. “I was under the impression that Mrs. Seaman had it all locked up,” he said.
Attorney Derrick Penney said he did not want to turn negative: “People can figure it out for themselves what’s going on.”
Seaman reemphasized that her political aspirations have not been tethered to the recall campaign or the union.
“I ran an independent campaign once (the union) asked me to be a nominee,” she said this week. “Whatever they were doing, they did not do it with me in that way. When these union people were going knocking on doors, I had no say so in it.”
In December, the union launched a recall effort against Seroka over the ex-lawmaker’s perceived anti-development posture and, particularly, his opposition to building homes on the defunct Badlands golf course.
Seaman’s was one of three signatures on the notice of intent to circulate the recall petition — an effort that created a window for her to run a concurrent campaign for Seroka’s seat. Seroka resigned in March for reasons he did not explain, kicking off a special election.
Development of the defunct golf course, a politically controversial issue for years, was the central issue in the 2017 election that pitted Seroka against former City Councilman Bob Beers, who supported the Badlands development. The ongoing legal fight over the development threatens to cost the city perhaps millions of dollars in ongoing litigation.
“She knows it’s (Badlands) a deadly issue, but in the same token she needs money to run the campaign,” said Jim Ferrence, the campaign manager for public relations executive Hilarie Grey. “It’s a fantasy that somehow she wasn’t front and center.”
Former Assemblywoman Valerie Weber said she reached out to White about who might get the endorsement, but never heard back. For her, Seaman had gone full throttle on the recall effort and has since sought to separate herself: “She has backed away from that.”
Most candidates have said they understood both sides of the Badlands issue or did not pay much attention to it.
Seaman has called it “a big concern of mine” as its relates to protecting taxpayer dollars. She has also said she believed developer Yohan Lowie can win in the courts because he has property rights.
Laborers Local 872 contributed $175,000 to the effort to remove Seroka. RA Southeast Land Co. LLC, a business connected to Badlands developer EHB Companies, contributed $32,000.
Now the union and a Badlands-linked company have contributed money to help Seaman get elected, according to campaign finance records available through March 31.
A union-backed political action committee, Laborers for Solid State Leadership, donated $5,000 to the Committee to Elect Victoria Seaman on Jan. 10, records show. Another union PAC, Government on Parade, provided $4,580 of posters and signs for the committee on the day the special election was called.
But Seaman rejected the idea that she was involved in the financial contributions.
“I don’t have a Committee to Elect Victoria Seaman,” she said. “If somebody opened up a Committee to Elect Victoria Seaman, I don’t know about it.”
White explained that his union set up the committee during the Seroka recall effort, when Seaman was the lone candidate.
Cafe Leone Inc., a Badlands development-linked company, provided Seaman’s campaign $2,500 on Jan. 16, records show. The ex-assemblywoman said the contribution was spurred by her friendship with the company’s agent, Vickie DeHart.
“I’m sure they’re interrelated somehow,” she said of Cafe Leone and the Badlands developer. “But for me, I got a check from Cafe Leone.”
Because of her monthslong head start, Seaman has far outraised other candidates, reporting more than $105,000 in contributions through the first quarter. Just more than half has come from individual donors, according to a Review-Journal analysis.
“That says that it’s the people, that I support the people and they know that,” she said.
No other candidate received financial support from union or Badlands developer-linked groups through March 31, records show. Second-quarter reports are not due until July 15, well after the election.