Chris Giunchigliani mounted one of the toughest Democratic primaries for governor our state has seen; she’s served the public for more than 30 years; and now she’s wrapping up her time as a Clark County Commissioner.
Most people know her as Chris G – and she represented District E, which includes parts of downtown Las Vegas and east Las Vegas.
The Clark County Commission is seen as one of the most powerful governing bodies in the state, overseeing the Strip, McCarran airport and the state’s only public hospital, University Medical Center.
After 12 years, she weathered the Great Recession and has now seen Southern Nevada’s economy rebuild.
“I would say the recession was the worst part," Giunchigliani said of her time on the commission. "We had to lay off thousands of individuals.”
Positions ranging from engineers to maintenance workers were eliminated during the height of the recession in 2008 and 2009. Giunchigliani said there should have been procedures in place to minimize the impact.
“We didn’t plan as a community, let alone as a state, for that kind of a recession,” she said.
Since then, she said the county looked into all its jobs and employees to have a better understanding of who could be moved to what position if there was another downturn.
Giunchigliani said the worst of the recession was the impact the housing crisis had on the community, and she is concerned that conditions are ripe again for another drop in housing prices.
“Growth for growth’s sake does not make sure that we have the right infrastructure in place that it is obtainable – not calling it affordable anymore – we want obtainable housing,” she said.
While employment is low, Giunchigliani said wages are still low and people can't afford homes. Plus, she believes officials need to keep a better watch on approving housing.
“We really have to be more diligent as we approve housing projects around the valley to make sure that they pencil out correctly,” she said, including the impact they have on water resources, services like police and fire departments and schools.
While the economic downturn was one of the most difficult times for Giunchigliani as a county commissioner, she said some of the things she is most proud of were done quietly without fanfare.
“I would say I’m most proud of creating our public arts fund,” she said.
She also pointed to the county's poet laureate program, the efforts to clean up and protect the Clark County Wetlands Park, and the spay and neuter law that has kept the stray animal population in Southern Nevada down.
“I’m proud of those kinds of things because they affect my constituents on a day-to-day basis,” she said.
However, there was one project close to her heart that she wasn't able to finish.
“I wanted to build a multicultural center," she said. "I really felt that Las Vegas or Southern Nevada should have one the celebrates the diversity that we have here."
She suggested to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority that it add the center to its plans for expanding the convention center, but she hasn't heard if the agency is going to do that.
As for her future plans, Giunchigliani told KNPR's State of Nevada she wants to raise up the next generation of politicians and campaign managers.
“Why do we have to bring people in from out of state? We really can develop our managers and financial people and social media people,” she said.
She wants to recruit people of color, members of the LGBTQ community and young people to fill those spots. Giunchigliani would like to put together a leadership institute and she has already started a political action committee.
“I would rather use my experience and my mistakes as well to help teach people,” she said.
Chris Giunchigliani, former Clark County Commissioner
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