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Veteran nurse, founder of medical flight company vying to be Las Vegas’ next mayor

Updated March 17, 2024 - 7:19 pm

Las Vegas mayoral candidate Donna Miller wants to leverage her experience as a veteran nurse and founder of a medical flight company to lead the city into the future.

“I believe it’s time for the city to have a nurse, a business owner and a community leader — proven and tested community leader — to run the city,” she told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in a recent interview.

Miller jumped into the packed and competitive race to replace Mayor Carolyn Goodman, who is term limited.

The nonpartisan race includes two current council members and a former U.S. congresswoman. The winner can be determined outright if a candidate receives more than half the votes in the June primary. If not, the two top candidates will advance onto a runoff during the November general election.

As mayor, she said she would “maximize” the development of the Las Vegas Medical District and tackle the shortage of medical professionals in the city.

Miller’s company — Life Guard International (Flying ICU) — transports patients on retrofitted airplanes to and from regional facilities that can handle medical care not available locally, she said. She has since sold the company, but is involved in consulting work.

“If I do a good job (as mayor), air ambulance would be only one way,” Miller said, adding that she would also advocate to bring a dedicated, standalone children’s hospital sustained by green energy.

Facing an affordable housing shortage, Las Vegas is “landlocked,” Miller noted.

She would encourage developers to build vertically instead of horizontally, and also push to decrease the time it takes to build and make available city-owned land for affordable housing projects.

Miller said she’s led efforts to provide a monthly health clinic at the CARE Complex on Foremaster Lane, where a large population of unsheltered locals gather.

“I think quite often we believe homeless equals hopeless, and when we speak that way, we give those people … the impression that there’s nothing they can do,” Miller said.

Under her administration, the city would reimagine services and resources and would more clearly communicate their availability.

Additionally, the city would collaborate with neighboring governments and other “entities” to triage that population and prioritize prevention and exit strategies out of homelessness.

“Some of the challenges that we have in this valley,” she said, “they don’t know jurisdicti0nal borders.”

Miller said she became well-acquainted with the emergency response system as regional director for the AMR/MedicWest ambulance companies.

“I think that that system needs to be revised and the way we respond to calls has to be re-thought out,” she said.

Her public safety priorities would center around crime prevention and mental health resources. She said would advocate for family-oriented programs to lead youth into more positive futures.

As mayor, she would support a settlement with the would-be developer of the defunct Badlands golf course, which neighboring residents opposed.

Multiple cases filed by EHB COs. have led to rulings against the city that could push its losses above $200 million if the court decisions are upheld in appeal.

Developer Yohan Lowie’s attorneys have alleged land taking by the city that stymied his land development plans.

“Effective communication and early mediation would’ve been the best way to resolve that,” Miller said. “They really needed to communicate with each other; to be proactive and come to some kind of an understanding before it got this out of hand,” she added.

Miller would push to re-examine and clarify policies that might’ve contributed to the legal battle.

She said that must occur to understand the city’s role, and prevent it from happening again, “not when you’re in a crisis.”

Miller, who was born and raised in Romania, immigrated to the U.S. in 1991 where she pursued her medical career.

“I went with the dictionary on one hand and the nursing book on the other,” Miller said.

Miller said she would collaborate with the rest of the city council for a unified vision and welcome input from the community at large to determine the city’s top priorities.

“I’ve been told I can’t come to the United States, and I did,” she said. “I’ve been told I couldn’t start going to nursing school because I didn’t speak English well enough, and I did — or starting my own air ambulance company, and I did.”

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

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