Former Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins says he’s running for mayor of North Las Vegas.
If the city still exists by the time filing opens in 2017, that is.
Collins told the group Hispanics in Politics today that other cities around the state have given up their charters and surrendered to county control because they had trouble paying bills and keeping things running. And he hinted the same fate might await North Las Vegas unless things change.
“Will North Las Vegas still exist? Will it still be around in two years?” he asked.
Collins reminded the crowd that Ely used to be the biggest city in Nevada, and now it’s facing a vote of its residents that may see it disincorporated. The Nye County Commission put a question on the 2012 ballot dissolving the Pahrump Town Board, which voters approved. “Things change. Things change all the time,” Collins said.
North Las Vegas can be saved, Collins said, if city leadership is willing to address crime and relax regulations to make the city more business-friendly. He said Mayor John Lee bears some responsibility for getting that done.
“The guy’s [Lee] got to get off the ninth floor and come out in the community and see what’s going on,” Collins told the audience. “It sounds like they better start making some deals.”
And, Collins added, an expanded industrial park at Apex in the northern part of the city won’t solve the problems that plague the city, since costs for the project are so high. “Apex is not our savior,” he said.
A call to get Lee’s reaction wasn’t immediately returned.
Asked by an audience member why he quit his Clark County Commission seat mid-term, Collins said he was dealing with helping his parents “downsize” and move. His mother has been living with him for several weeks, he said, and he’s helping his siblings move his father’s home in Texas.
Asked if frustration with colleagues on the commission played a role in his departure, Collins said he’d been frustrated for years, and would have quit long ago if that was a reason. Instead, he said he’d worked to get policies passed despite opposition from some of his colleagues.
Collins said his real accomplishments centered around helping constituents, including two people who needed surgery for their daughter that an insurance company denied, or getting an auxiliary gymnasium for the Moapa Valley high school. “Politicians cater to their contributors,” he said. “Elected officials cater to their constituents.”
And what about his bouts with alcohol, a problem that Collins has frankly acknowledged in interviews before? “LBJ drank more than I ever thought of, and he was president,” Collins said, noting that he’d waited until 5 p.m. to open his first beer on Tuesday. “I like to drink!”
Analyzing the North Las Vegas political landscape, Collins said there are three major voting blocs: Mormons, non-Mormons and minority voters. If you win two out of the three, you’ll be successful.
He can probably write off the first, however. Later in his remarks, he said his mother had some some research into the family’s genealogy, and discovered he was a distant cousin to President Barack Obama, as well as former President Harry Truman.
“I thought I was related to that loverboy [polygamist Mormon church pioneer] Brigham Young, but I’m not,” he said.