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Las Vegas mayor faces recall effort over coronavirus response

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman is facing a recall effort in the wake of her response to the coronavirus pandemic, including controversial comments she made recently on national television.

Former professional poker player Doug Polk on Wednesday filed a notice of intent to circulate a recall petition with the city clerk’s office, the first step in seeking to oust a public official from their seat.

Polk was not immediately available to discuss the nascent effort but, in a brief statement, he said Goodman had “failed to responsibly represent her constituency” over the past few weeks.

“Not only in her clear disregard for public health, but also in her support for the casino owners over the people of Las Vegas,” he said in the statement. “Additionally, she is barely able to speak coherent sentences while discussing the subject matter. She is unfit to serve as the mayor of Las Vegas.”

Goodman said by phone Wednesday evening that it is the right of anybody to file anything they want to file.

”I mean, what can I say?” she said. “You know, this is America. That’s his choice. Everybody’s entitled to their own political opinions.”

Now Polk has until Aug. 4 to collect 6,745 valid signatures from registered voters who participated in last year’s municipal primary election, according to City Clerk LuAnn Holmes. The figure is based on 25 percent of voter turnout in that election, where Goodman cruised to a third and final term ending in 2024.

If enough valid signatures are collected by the cut-off date, it would trigger a mayoral recall election.

From the start of the pandemic, the mayor has resisted intense measures to slow the spread of the virus: She said statewide business closures would be “devastating” prior to Gov. Steve Sisolak’s edict to do so, and later called the shutdown “total insanity.”

But it was her appearances on national television last month — first with NBC’s Katy Tur, then CNN’s Anderson Cooper — that prompted the fiercest criticisms. Goodman said the city should be used as a control group to test whether social distancing measures were working and suggested that businesses that reopen and are hit hard by virus outbreaks would simply be swallowed by competition.

The mayor has said she is standing firmly with small businesses and the working people in Las Vegas who have seen their personal lives upended by closures, urging the state to allow employees to return to their jobs and establishments to reopen in order to save the battered economy.

Attorney Leo Wolpert, with McLetchie Law Group, was one of three individuals to sign the notice of intent to circulate the recall petition, according to city records. Wolpert, whose law firm biography says he won a bracelet at the World Series of Poker in 2009, is engaged to attorney Maggie McLetchie, a First Amendment rights lawyer and outside counsel for the Review-Journal.

The intention to circulate the recall petition is the second such effort over the past two years in Las Vegas City Hall. A laborers union-backed movement to remove former Councilman Steve Seroka was ostensibly rooted in Seroka’s anti-development stances.

In 2012, former Councilman Steve Ross survived a recall election, defeating a single opponent handily. But Las Vegas also saw a successful recall in 2005, when then-Councilwoman Janet Moncrief was recalled in a campaign finance scandal.

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

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