No matter what, North Las Vegas will elect its first Black mayor come November.
Veteran elected officials Councilwoman Pamela Goynes-Brown and state Sen. Pat Spearman, D-North Las Vegas, are running to replace Mayor John Lee, who chose not to run for re-election so he could mount a bid for governor on the Republican ticket. He came in fourth in the primary.
Both Goynes-Brown and Spearman envision a growing, affordable community with a diverse economy that gives small business owners a fair shot at success.
Their approach would differ.
Goynes-Brown, a lifelong North Las Vegas resident and educator who has represented Ward 2 since 2011 said she knows the city well.
“I know, with my constituents, what their wants and their needs are because I talk with them often,” she said. “I just feel that I’m ready. I want to just focus on being the best me that I can be, and just getting out there letting people see who I am.”
Said Spearman: “I think the biggest difference is our vision for the city. And some people want to rest on the laurels of what has been done. And I reject that notion.” A U.S. Army veteran and pastor, Spearman was elected to her North Las Vegas state Senate seat in 2012, and would return to the Senate if she loses the November election.
“What has been done, some of that has worked truly, but there’s some of it that has not, and if we don’t recognize that and have a plan to move forward, even when it has to be in a different direction,” Spearman said. “If we’re not doing that, we’re doing a disservice to the people.”
Goynes-Brown and Spearman moved on from a crowded, seven-candidate June primary. The councilwoman got nearly 37 percent of the vote, while the senator received 17.11 percent.
In 2022, Spearman’s campaign had raised $122,849, and had about $58,000 on hand, records submitted in mid-July show. Goynes-Brown’s had raised almost $200,000 in the same time frame, and had about $176,000 in its coffers.
Goynes-Brown, who made history as the first Black woman to be elected to her position, helped steer the city from the financial crisis that almost led to a state takeover. Under her tenure, she said, North Las Vegas is closer to becoming a metropolitan city.
“I’m just not done yet,” she said about running for higher office. “We want to be a thriving community where people want to come live, work and play.”
She wants the city to create incentives for turning it into a global competitor for high-paying jobs, particularly at the Apex Industrial Park, to see the through the revitalization of the downtown district, and turn the city into a green and walkable community. She would advocate for mixed-use projects with a medical corridor, and an expansion of affordable housing projects.
Goynes-Brown was part of a nearly unanimous vote to back the city’s clerk in denying an effort by the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 to put rent control on the November ballot.
She said she supports rent control, but that the vote was not about the policy. The city in part contended that the union did not have enough valid signatures, something that led to a contentious August city council meeting.
“You have to follow the procedures to get those initiatives pushed forward and I just don’t think that happened this time,” she said. “But I do support the initiative.”
Military veteran, state lawmaker
Spearman said the City Council missed a crucial opportunity to move the conversation on rent control forward, and explore other options in local and state laws.
“I think what should have happened was to number one, acknowledge that the signatures were valid,” she said.
“If you disagree with the initiative, and if you want to challenge the veracity of the signatures, don’t shut them down,” she added. “You have to acknowledge there is a problem.”
Spearman would like to see increased transparency in City Hall, such as more publicly discussing lawsuit settlements, and wants to move the twice-monthly Wednesday council meetings from 4 p.m. to the evenings to increase public participation.
She said increased development is good, but that the city has to better explore what the growth would mean to residents. Would it include new schools; are developers being held accountable of fulfilling their promises, such as job creation, and will it also be propping up local, smaller businesses?
She would like to see the city partner with the College of Southern Nevada for career training, and proposed working with Station Casinos to turn their shuttered North Las Vegas properties into centers to function as union academies. (Station Casinos recently began tearing down the defunct Texas Station property, but the Fiesta Rancho is still standing.)
Asked about development downtown, she said. “There is a place for that discussion … I just don’t think it’s right now. Whatever we have, we’ve got to focus our time, talent and resources on solving this housing crisis.”