Outgoing Las Vegas City Council members Lois Tarkanian and Bob Coffin got standing ovations during their final meeting on Wednesday.
Tarkanian, 85, and Coffin, 76, will step away after serving 14 and eight years on the council, respectively. Both now have trees dedicated in their honor at two city parks.
During a ceremony to begin their last meeting, Mayor Carolyn Goodman lauded the work of each, calling Tarkanian, a former Clark County School District board member, “a force for education” who led the way on regulating short-term rentals.
Coffin, the mayor said, is “one of the most community-minded individuals” in the state who diligently worked on processes for licensing legalized marijuana sales and fought to break the cycle of homelessness in Las Vegas.
Representing Ward 1 since winning a special election in 2005, Tarkanian will be replaced by Councilman-elect Brian Knudsen, who defeated Tarkanian’s longtime special assistant Robin Munier in the general election last week.
Tarkanian said she will leave office optimistic about the prospect for the ward’s Medical District and the neighborhood associations that began during her tenure, which she said reflect the fact that that her constituents are engaged.
“Memories are the gold of kings, they say. If you have them, you have all you need,” she said. “And some of them are reminders that each of us can and do and make a difference.”
Coffin, a former longtime state lawmaker elected to the council in 2011, will be replaced in Ward 3 by former Assemblywoman Olivia Diaz, who defeated Veterans Affairs project manager Melissa Clary.
Coffin recalled narrowly losing his first political race while in his late twenties, but said it provided a valuable teaching moment about how to bounce back.
He rejected the idea that city officials and staff were merely bureaucrats or “pencil-pushers” because they get work done. He also underscored the importance of finding common ground in public office.
“No permanent friends and no permanent enemies in this world, in the political life,” he said. “Remember that, because that is how life should be. We have to regroup and coalesce.”
Knudsen, Diaz and former Assemblywoman Victoria Seaman, who won a special election to fill a vacancy in Ward 2, are expected to be sworn in during the first council meeting of July.