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Walls hopes to leverage Chicago experience if elected Las Vegas mayor

Las Vegas mayoral candidate William “Dock” Walls contends that access to housing is a human right and that a lack of affordable homes and homelessness within the city are violations of that right.

“My job as a mayor is to make certain that we find the right balance so that we don’t become San Francisco,” said Walls, explaining how well-off residents in the Northern California city were priced out by the “super rich.”

He added: “At some point in time, we have to figure out a plan, a development plan that includes building buildings that go up and not just buildings that sprawl out,” he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Opponents in the nonpartisan race include two current council members and a former U.S. congresswoman. Walls acknowledged that he’s running an underdog campaign in an effort to replace term-limited Mayor Carolyn Goodman, but that it’s a “wide-open race,” he said.

The next mayor could be chosen outright if a candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote in the June primary. If the threshold is not met, the two top candidates will move onto a runoff during the November general election.

Walls’ proposed strategy to combat homelessness — to maximize partnerships between the city, nonprofits and private entities — was born through volunteer work assisting unsheltered residents, he said.

He said his administration would better put to use federal dollars dedicated to affordable housing.

“For us, the city of Las Vegas is only as safe as its more vulnerable residents,” he said. “So we want to take those vulnerable people and turn them into viable members of our society.”

He would push to stimulate and diversify the economy by decreasing the city’s reliance in municipal bonds.

“We have a six-year plan that will put us in position where we are able to fund our own government without any municipal bond assistance,” he said.

Debt payments would instead be used to “service our people,” he said. “We’ll tax less and provide more safety and more services.”

If elected mayor, Walls said he would establish the mayor’s office of employment that would fund workforce training of adults and working-age teenagers to aid local businesses.

To attract transnational companies and professionals, he said that the city needs to improve public safety, schools, parks and libraries.

This isn’t Walls’ first foray into politics.

In the 1980s, he served under former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington. He said he was instrumental in overhauling that city’s departments of traffic, sanitation, water, sewer and inspection services.

He ran unsuccessful campaigns in Chicago for the mayor’s seat in 2015 and more recently was bested by Gov. Joe Lombardo in the Republican gubernatorial nomination.

Las Vegas funds its own fire department and public safety agency, and a substantial portion of Las Vegas police’s budget.

Walls said he would push to make “certain that the entire police and fire departments, rank and file, command and the civilian employees understand that customer service is job one.”

About the city’s yearslong legal battle with the would-be developer of the defunct Badlands golf course, Walls said he would “resolve that immediately in favor of the owner of the property: It was properly zoned, he properly applied for it, and to forestall that because some neighbors had a problem with it was a travesty and shame.”

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.

Walls was born and raised in Chicago and earned degrees from Tuskegee University in Alabama and Chicago-Kent College of Law. He’s a business owner who’s owned comedy clubs and managed performers.

“I have the vision, ability and a comprehensive plan to transform Las Vegas from just an international tourist destination into a safe and secure world-class city that’s strategically designed — carefully designed to ensure the prosperity of every single resident and leave no one behind,” he said.

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

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