You may not know it, but there’s an election going on. Early voting in municipal primaries for Las Vegas, Henderson and North Las Vegas began March 18 and concluded Friday. Election Day is today.
Thanks to the checkerboard boundaries that delineate the three municipalities and Clark County, many newer residents of the valley may not know if they live within a city or in unincorporated areas. It’s not unusual for some county residents to mistakenly show up at the polls hoping to cast ballots for a City Council candidate or municipal judge.
Turnout is traditionally very low. In 2015, fewer than 16 percent of registered voters went to the polls in the Las Vegas municipal primary. That number was about 12 percent in Henderson and barely 9 percent in North Las Vegas.
Such apathy gives the civic minded a larger influence over local politics. This election is no different. Races will be decided in the primary if the winner in a particular race exceeds 50 percent support. If not, the top two candidates will move on to the June 13 general election.
Tuesday’s balloting has plenty of interesting storylines. In Henderson, seven candidates are vying to replace outgoing Mayor Andy Hafen. In North Las Vegas, County Commissioner Tom Collins, a former state lawmaker, is among four challengers hoping to knock out two-term incumbent Anita Wood.
Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, three City Council seats are on the ballot.
Incumbent Steve Ross is term-limited in Ward 6 and his wife Kelli Ross is hoping to step in. But nine other candidates, including former GOP state lawmaker Michelle Fiore, stand in the way.
Two other incumbents, Bob Beers in Ward 2 and Stavros Anthony in Ward 4, also face challengers. Mr. Beers, who served in the Assembly and state Senate in Carson City, faces a serious challenge from two well-funded opponents. The issue of the exclusive Queensridge development and the abandoned Badlands golf course looms large.
Mr. Anthony, a retired Metro police captain who launched an unsuccessful effort to unseat Mayor Carolyn Goodman in 2015, has drawn three opponents.
There are also two Las Vegas municipal judgeships on the ballot, including a race in Department 5 between incumbent Cedric Kerns and challenger Crystal Eller that will be decided in the primary.
If you were one of the few who turned out at an early voting polling place, congratulations. If not, get out and vote today. In these low-turnout municipal elections, it’s no cliché to say that every vote counts.