North Las Vegas’ first elected female mayor landed the seat in 2009, just before what was then the nation’s fastest-growing city went bust.
Since then, Shari Buck faced a 2011 recall attempt, weathered a 2012 fiscal emergency with the help of an estimated $12.3 million in suspended union employee pay raises and handled a February dust-up with Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick over the city’s share of state cigarette, sales and liquor taxes.
Last week, Buck finally met her match, with North Las Vegas voters dropping the incumbent in her first election test against former state Sen. John Lee.
“Part of me is relieved,” Buck said after the April 2 primary loss. “I called John (Lee) and left him a voicemail offering my support.”
Lee, a Democratic former state senator, accused his Republican opponent of ethics violations and “taxpayer-funded luxury junkets” to Sweden, Austria and Hollywood.
Buck, who said she has “never been to Austria or Hollywood,” didn’t blame the campaign for last week’s loss.
“I don’t ever view myself as a victim,” she explained. “I don’t know if the turnout made a difference. … The voters made their decision.”
Buck’s opponents have long gone after the mayor for her role in the elimination of more than 1,000 city positions since 2009.
Buck, by contrast, highlights successful council efforts to stem annual budget deficits once estimated at more than $30 million and to stabilize a tottering city balance sheet with 4 percent gains in cash on hand.
Not long ago, she noted, the city was worried about making payroll and suffering a state takeover. Now, she said, businesses can see a modest recovery.
“I’m most proud of our work to attract new jobs and get our momentum back,” Buck said. “You really feel it here in City Hall and I think here in the community.”
The daughter of a North Las Vegas police chief and a former North Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce board member will make her political exit July 1, but she plans to stick around.
“There are other ways to serve, other things for me to do,” Buck said. “I’ll be involved in voicing my opinion and in continuing to promote businesses in North Las Vegas.”
Contact Centennial and North Las Vegas View reporter James DeHaven at email@example.com or 702-477-3839.