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John Lee, Mayor, North Las Vegas
BY MARIE ANDRUSEWICZ -- Only 10 percent of North Las Vegas voters turned out, but it was enough to get John Lee elected mayor of a city hampered by a $30 million deficit and recovering from a devastating wave of foreclosures.
At the top of Lee’s agenda is untangling the financials.
“First and foremost, I don’t know what the exact situation is,” says Lee. “They’re going through a budget process right now and they’re putting together a forecast for next year, so I’ll know more about that in June, so that will give me a better assessment of what we’re looking at.”
Lee is surprisingly optimistic, given North Las Vegas’ bleak image and fiscal woes. Not only does he hope to bring back some of the community amenities lost during the recession, including parks and libraries, but he thinks North Las Vegas is a potentially attractive hub for new business.
“Fifty-five percent of North Las Vegas hasn’t even been built out yet,” says Lee. “If this was a business acquisition, I would be licking my lips right now, knowing all the potential I have with this community.”
Lee is particularly enthused about what North Las Vegas has to offer the burgeoning civilian drone industry.
“There are six highly-desirable locations and Nevada is one of them because we have Creech Airforce Base, we have the Nellis Gunnery and of course the Nellis Airforce Base here,” says Lee. “And because of the infrastructure that North Las Vegas has, we have a good chance at making that whole industry come to us.”
As for his assessment of what went wrong during the tenure of his predecessor, Shari Buck, Lee blames an overly ambitious and ill-timed building plan.
“One project would have been OK, but when you have the new city hall and the sewage treatment plant all at the same time,” Lee says, it was too much at once, especially during a recession.
“That’s why the change in leadership was so necessary at this point in time,” says Lee.