North Las Vegas council could expand under bill
State Sen. Pat Spearman, who lost a bid for mayor of North Las Vegas last year, has a bill to expand the city council to six wards starting in 2024.
Updated February 25, 2023 - 11:05 am
The North Las Vegas City Council could expand to seven members, under a bill introduced in the state Senate by a candidate who recently lost a bid for mayor.
Senate Bill 184, introduced Wednesday by state Sens. Pat Spearman, D-North Las Vegas, and Edgar Flores, D-Las Vegas, would add two wards to the current four-member council before the 2024 election. The mayor would serve as the council’s seventh member.
Spearman was defeated in a bid for mayor in November, losing 66 percent to 34 percent to then-Councilwoman Pamela Goynes-Brown. Spearman is term-limited in the state Senate, but would be eligible to run for one of the new council seats.
Spearman told the Review-Journal Saturday she “absolutely” doesn’t want to occupy a council seat, and that she’s moved past the mayoral race, “and I hope other people have, too.”
“I’m not trying to run for City Council, trust me,” she said.
Spearman said the bill has been in the “backburner” since the 2020 special session.
North Las Vegas is touted by officials as “one of the fastest growing cities in Nevada,” so, why should it not have more representatives for “constituents services,” Spearman said. “Why, why?”
Spearman said she requested a bill draft request after the 2020 session, so that it wouldn’t interfere with redistricting. She said COVID-19 prevented her from moving the bill forward the following year.
An expansion would put the council on par with the seven members who serve on the Las Vegas City Council, and the Clark County Commission, both of which are more populous jurisdictions.
The proposal singles out North Las Vegas. Neighboring Henderson, for example, more closely reflects North Las Vegas in size, and has four wards, plus its mayor.
And that’s because, Spearman said, she represents North Las Vegas.
“I live in North Las Vegas, I don’t live in Henderson,” she said. “I represent North Las Vegas, I don’t represent Henderson.”
State Sens. Dallas Harris, D-Las Vegas, and Lisa Krasner, R-Reno, were listed as co-sponsors. Only Spearman provided comment.
The bill, which was not requested by North Las Vegas, was referred to the Senate Committee on Government Affairs, but a hearing hadn’t been scheduled. If the legislation passes, the city manager would be required to provide a report on redistricting the city’s population into six new wards.
A city spokeswoman said in a statement that the bill took local officials by surprise.
“This bill was not discussed with the City Council or presented to the Charter Committee, the first we heard about it was (Wednesday) when it dropped,” the statement reads. “Our focus remains (on) working with our Legislative partners on meaningful bills for the City and State, like Assemblywoman Claire Thomas’ Juneteenth bill and our police recruitment bill that will have tangible results like more diverse police officers on the streets.
“We appreciate all of the hard work of the Legislature and their tremendous task of addressing all the critical issues our state faces during a 120-day biennial session, and we are excited to work with our Legislative colleagues this session on beneficial progress for North Las Vegas residents,” the statement added.
Spearman acknowledged she wasn’t able to touch base with a city representative in Carson City this week before the bill was introduced.
But she’s also unsure why the city hasn’t moved to expand the council.
“Quite frankly, here’s a question: ‘why didn’t the city do this before this (bill)?’” she said.
The bill would amend the city charter to require the city manager, chief financial officer, assistant city managers and assistant chief of staff to become residents of the city within six months of their appointments. Current law allows the city to appoint a city manager who isn’t a city or even a Nevada resident at the time of appointment, but thereafter only allows the manager to live outside the city with the approval of the council.
Delen Goldberg, the city’s assistant chief of staff, forfeited her position of assistant city manager last year when she moved to South Carolina, but she continues to work for the city remotely. The chief of staff position wasn’t listed in the bill.
City Manager Ryann Juden told the Review-Journal in October that Goldberg had been able to “easily” perform her administrative duties six months into the move, and noted that the COVID-19 pandemic’s work-from-home model inspired the city to adapt to help recruit and maintain talent.
The bill also calls for an annual “diversity study” submitted by the city manager, which addresses the number “of employees of each agency, bureau, board, commission, department, division and other office of the City who are in managerial positions and are women, veterans and members of a minority group.”
Furthermore, the city manager “shall establish a supplier diversity program to ensure that businesses located in the City that are owned by women, veterans or a member of a minority group are made aware of the City’s advertisements for bids or requests for proposals,” according to the bill.
Another change would prevent North Las Vegas council members from seeking “legal advice” unrelated to city business from the city attorney, or other lawyers contracted by the city.
The final section asks for a city manager report on the “vacant or leased space” in North Las Vegas’ City Hall.
Contact Ricardo Torres-Cortez at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @rickytwrites on Twitter.