Eight of the candidates vying to serve out the remainder of Ricki Barlow’s term on the Las Vegas City Council weighed in on how they would do so in light of their predecessor’s misdeeds.
Barlow was in his third and final term on the Las Vegas City Council when he resigned in January, announcing he would plead guilty to a felony for misusing campaign funds from his 2015 re-election.
Joe Mitchell, who began working in the Ward 5 City Council office under Barlow in 2013, said he would protect the assistants and liaisons working with elected officials — the role he held under Barlow. Mitchell said it was “incredibly difficult as an assistant to wake up one morning and all of a sudden your whole life is changed.”
“It’s easy to presume it’s this partnership of misbehavior,” Mitchell said at a candidate forum Wednesday.
Mitchell is “upset,” but also grateful to Barlow because “he opened the door for me,” he said.
Cedric Crear, who Barlow appointed to the Las Vegas Planning Commission in 2015, said he will surround himself with people who have “like values,” and he won’t be unduly influenced by campaign contributions.
“I have voted against some of the people who have donated to my campaign. I’m not beholden to anybody,” Crear said.
“It starts at the top,” candidate Walter Jones III said, adding he’s “here because of God,” not campaign contributions.
The City Council set a special election to replace Barlow, and 11 people filed to represent Ward 5. Early voting is Thursday and Friday, and the special election is Tuesday.
Eight of the candidates took part in a two-hour forum Wednesday at Victory Missionary Baptist Church, sponsored by the local chapter of the NAACP, The Urban Voice and KCEP 88-FM. The radio station broadcast the forum live.
“I would put people in office who are just like me,” candidate Sheila Collins said. “Individuals who have character, integrity and … will go the extra mile and will work in the trenches for people.”
Former Assemblyman Harvey Munford responded to the question about Barlow by highlighting his announcement that he plans to donate half of his roughly $78,000 council salary to Ward 5 schools. Candidate Timothy Hicks went back to his plan to create committees, including education, veterans and neighborhood security and social services groups, to help him develop a strategy for the ward.
Few of the questions were posed to all eight candidates in attendance, and some narrowed in on Crear, Mitchell and Munford, individually.
Concerns about crime and drugs in the ward were a focus for some in the crowd who filled many of the pews in the Historic West Side church.
Candidate Shondra Summers-Armstrong said in addition to providing treatment programs, Las Vegas should work to connect those people with job training organizations.
“After we send people through treatment and they’ve gotten themselves cleaned up, they have to work,” she said.
“Just to say ‘get clean’ and have nowhere else to go does not work,” Summers-Armstrong said.
Randy Voyard said the city shouldn’t just focus on big projects, it should also focus on making business easier for small business owners.
“I’m focused on making this a better place to be,” Voyard said.
Patricia Messinger, Curtis Coleman and Shannon Hopkins filed candidacy paperwork to run for the council seat, but didn’t attend Wednesday’s forum.
Contact Jamie Munks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0340. Follow @Journo_Jamie_ on Twitter.
Ward 5 special election early voting
Registered voters in Las Vegas’ Ward 5 can vote early on Thursday and Friday in the following locations:
— 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Las Vegas City Hall City Clerk’s Office, 495 S. Main St.
— 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Doolittle Community Center, 1900 N. J St.
— 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Las Vegas Athletic Club, 1725 N. Rainbow Blvd.
Election Day is Tuesday, and polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Registered Ward 5 voters can vote on Election Day at:
— Las Vegas City Hall
— Doolittle Community Center
— Tobler Elementary School, 6510 W. Buckskin Ave.
— Culley Elementary School, 1200 N. Mallard St.