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‘Unlocking the city’s potential’: Veteran public servant vying to be Las Vegas’ next mayor

Lynn Baird said that helping to navigate struggling Las Vegas Valley residents through severe economic crises in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the great recession and a global pandemic helped prepare him for a next step: to be the city’s next mayor.

Baird — who spent three decades with Nevada’s employment division — jumped into the crowded field that’s vying to replace longtime Mayor Carolyn Goodman, who can’t run for re-election due to term limits.

“I wanted to try to help,” he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal about his decision to run. “I just wanted to see what I could do more to help Las Vegas from the inside out.”

Baird is one of 15 candidates — including two current Las Vegas City Council members and a former congresswoman — who will be on the ballot for the nonpartisan position during the June 11 primary election.

Should no one receive more than 50 percent of the vote next month, the top two candidates would move onto a runoff during November’s general election.

Baird began campaigning late after returning from an 18-month mission with the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which included a year in India where the missionaries taught music, English and religious values.

While he acknowledged that he’s at a fundraising and name recognition disadvantage, he said he’s hit the ground running, pitching likely voters on his campaign motto of unlocking the city’s potential.

Collaborative government an fiscal responsibility

Should he be elected, Baird said, he would take a regional collaborative approach to combat issues such the shortage of affordable housing, homelessness and fiscal responsibility.

His administration would advocate at the state and federal levels to find a way to prioritize local buyers over out-of-state investors and reduce the incentives for cash-only sales.

To combat homelessness, he would create incentives for those who are able to participate in work-related programs. He said he knows such programs exist, but he would look into ways to further the people’s progress longer-term, such as finding ways for them to rent to own while they continue to receive social services, he said.

His economic diversification plan would encourage small businesses to invest through streamlined processes with less red tape.

Baird said he would push to make Las Vegas a city that builds professionals and exports them rather than “trying to import them desperately.”

Baird knows the financial impacts of an economic crisis, and said that under his mandate, the city would infuse its coffers with an expanded “rainy day” fund.

Baird said he would like the city to explore ways to decrease its dependence on tourism and gambling tax dollars. One of his ideas is the manufacturing and sale of green energy.

About public safety, he said he wants police to be a “welcomed force.” Baird said he’s a believer in just laws but also strict enforcement.

Baird acknowledged that his familiarity about the mounting losses in the city’s legal battle with the would-be developer of the defunct Badlands golf course comes from an outsider’s perspective.

“I feel like not everything is on the table,” he said.

However, he added, “I do not want to throw a $500 million bill on my next-door neighbor; I gotta believe that there’s a better way.”

Baird said he would advocate for a settlement “yesterday.”

Baird added that he would want to learn the needs from the city and the developer so that “we can resolve this in the very most equitable way possible.”

‘Working on common ground’

Baird was raised in a Utah farm and obtained bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Brigham Young University. He moved to Las Vegas in 1990. He recently retired from the Employment Security Division and views his run for office as a higher calling from a spiritual being.

His administration would take a collaborative approach at City Hall so that everyone is mostly on the same page with issues and solutions.

“We gotta work on common ground,” he said, ” because if we’re working on common ground, no one can beat us.”

Contact Ricardo Torres-Cortez at rtorres@reviewjournal.com.

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