Newly elected mayor and councilman look to tackle pay concessions

North Las Vegas firefighters and police officers could soon have something to look forward to.

All three Democrats who took a seat on the City Council this month said they’re optimistic about resolving ongoing clashes with the city’s public safety unions, with newcomers Isaac Barron and Mayor John Lee agreeing that an out-of-court settlement with the city’s bargaining groups was long overdue.

Neither Lee nor Barron, who were strongly supported by public employee unions, sounded enthusiastic about last month’s renewal of public safety employee pay concessions forced by a city-declared fiscal emergency in July.

Anita Wood, who was sworn in July 1 for her second term representing Ward 3, couldn’t say when the city might look to settle pending multimillion-dollar lawsuits filed to block last summer’s suspension of approximately $12 million in public safety employee pay raises.

She did offer plenty of optimism about the two-party dialogue so far.

“It’s certainly in the city’s best interest to continue talking,” the 49-year-old councilwoman said. “The union leadership knew we had to readopt the (pay freezes) because we had nothing else in place, so I don’t think that came as a surprise.

“We haven’t gotten much past talk, but I’m encouraged by what I’ve heard so far.”

Lee, just three months removed from a surprise 18-point primary victory over former Mayor Shari Buck, picked up on that theme Monday. Calling the pay freezes a “sore subject,” he said he looked forward to tackling it at the bargaining table.

The new mayor also shrugged off controversy surrounding the recent legal action against a recently adopted plan to salvage underwater mortgages through the city’s power of eminent domain.

Lee, who shied away from the plan on the campaign trail, kept tight-lipped about the effort in his first day on the job.

“It’s not even on my radar,” the 57-year-old mayor said of a recent lawsuit meant to block further city action on the program. “I’ve got so many things to worry about between now and August, I’m not even thinking about it until I’m briefed on it.”

Barron, who toppled fellow political newcomer Jared Hardy, shared much of that sentiment. Barron plans to keep his day job at Rancho High School and said he, Lee and the rest of the City Council could use all the help they can get, including any economic boost that might accompany a recently proposed party train platform off Craig Road.

Contact Centennial and North Las Vegas View reporter James DeHaven at jdehaven@viewnews.com or 702-477-3839.

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