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Is Being a “Las Vegan” Enough to be Mayor of Las Vegas?

I’m a Las Vegan. At least that’s what I’ve been telling everyone for almost 25 years. When I send a letter or pay a bill, my return address is listed as “Las Vegas, NV.” And most people I know who live in unincorporated Clark County consider themselves Las Vegans, too.

Seriously, when was the last time you heard someone tell you they were a Clark Countian?

When the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority advertises our resorts to the world, it sells Las Vegas, not Clark County. People across the country and around the world tell their travel agent or Travelocity that they want to go to Las Vegas, not Clark County. In fact, the Las Vegas convention center itself isn’t located in Las Vegas; it’s actually located just a few blocks south of the city line.

Indeed, the famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign at the south end of the Strip isn’t in Las Vegas. Nor, for that matter, is the Las Vegas Strip itself.

Las Vegas doesn’t have its own school district; Las Vegas students attend Clark County public schools. Las Vegas doesn’t have its own, separate police department; Metro covers both Las Vegas and Clark County. And many, many folks for many, many years have been calling for a consolidation of many, many other government services between Las Vegas and Clark County.

I raise these points because, as you may have heard, former Nevada Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt-Bono is considering a run for mayor of Las Vegas even though she presently lives just a few blocks outside the city limits (near the “Las Vegas” Convention Center). And regardless of all the above, her “residency” would understandably be an issue used against her by her Democrat opponents.

As it should be. It’s a legitimate issue. So let me address it.

As a former Clark County Commissioner, former Nevada Lieutenant Governor and current Commissioner on Tourism, the city of Las Vegas has fallen under her purview for some 15 years – including matters related to economic and downtown redevelopment. As such, she knows, understands and appreciates the issues important to residents of Las Vegas as well as, if not better than, many of those who technically reside officially within the city limits.

Crime is a problem on the south side of Sahara, just as it is on the north side. Traffic is a problem outside the city limits every bit as much as inside. When that occasional cloud of pollution hangs over the valley, it hangs over all of us, both inside and outside the city’s borders.

Unemployment is sky-high inside and outside Las Vegas. Home owners are underwater both inside and outside Las Vegas. Vacant homes and buildings litter our neighborhoods both inside and outside Las Vegas. Businesses have gone out of business both inside and outside Las Vegas.

The point is these are universal, valley-wide problems which need to be fixed – and a candidate’s experience and expertise in fixing those problems should be more important than their physical address. Nevertheless, the law is the law. And the law says that to run for mayor of Las Vegas a candidate has to establish an actual residence within the city limits by the first week in January.

Knowing this, Hunt-Bono, if she decides to enter the mayoral contest, has said she absolutely would comply with the law, rent a home in the city, and live there for the duration of the campaign. And if fortunate enough to earn the trust and support of the majority of the voting citizens of Las Vegas, she would buy a new home within the city limits and move there permanently.

Of course, complying with the letter of the law won’t stop her opponents from using the residency issue against her in a campaign, and that’s fine. If the citizens of Las Vegas decide that living a few blocks outside Las Vegas for the past few years is more important than what Lorraine brings to the table to help make Las Vegas better and more prosperous again, we’ll all accept that poor judgment and suffer the consequences.

You see, this isn’t about Lorraine Hunt-Bono. It’s about Las Vegas and its people. It’s about who can best solve their problems and make their lives better again. If Lorraine decides to run, she’ll make her case for why she believes she’s the best person for the job and let the proverbial chips fall where they may. Inside or outside the city limits.

Happy New Year, Las Vegans, wherever you live!