Three new members of the Las Vegas City Council will bring different views to familiar issues facing Las Vegas and other parts of the state.
Brian Knudsen, a nonprofit consultant, will be the new ward 1 representative, taking over for Mayor Pro Tem Lois Tarkanian. Tarkanian led the way in Las Vegas against short-term rentals.
Former assemblywoman Victoria Seaman will take over Ward 2, replacing Steve Seroka, who resigned unexpectedly earlier this year. She’s a real estate agent and is expected to support the controversial idea of putting homes on a former golf course.
And teacher and former assemblywoman Olivia Diaz will represent Ward 3, replacing Bob Coffin. Coffin was also a former state legislator who struggled many years to deal with a growing homeless population.
In Ward 1, Brian Knudsen defeated Robin Munier for a seat being vacated by longtime councilperson Lois Tarkanian, who was term-limited.
One of the biggest issues that Tarkanian tried to tackle in her time on the council was short-term rental homes. Many homeowners don't want the homes in their neighborhoods, but supporters say it is the way people are vacationing now.
Right now, there is a ban on most short-term rentals in the city of Las Vegas, but there are people who already had permits to rent their properties and they have been grandfathered in.
Knudsen said the first step is conversation. He doesn't support party homes and he knows many homeowners don't want a business in their neighborhood.
"What I think is going to have to happen is the ban is not as effective as we would like it to be," he said. "We need to have stricter rules and regulations."
He would like to get Clark County and other jurisdictions getting involved with effective regulation.
Another item on his agenda is expanding the medical district. Knudsen would like to see more medical specialists, especially for children, in Las Vegas. He said improving the area starts with relationships.
"I've spent the last two years developing very strong relationships with our development community with our small business community and with the neighbors in that area talking about what we want Ward 1 to look like in conjunction with the other wards of the City of Las Vegas," he said
In Ward 2, Victoria Seaman narrowly defeated Hilarie Grey. The Ward 2 election was a special election to replace Steve Seroka who resigned from the council in March.
Seroka was the target of a recall effort before he suddenly resigned. Seaman had agreed to be a candidate for that seat if the recall effort was successful.
One of the biggest issues in that ward has been the development of the now-closed Badlands Golf Course. The course closed and a developer bought the land with plans to put homes on the property. However, homeowners in the Queensridge subdivision, where the course is located, pushed back on the idea.
The dispute is now making its way through the court system. Seaman is not sure if the issue will actually ever make its way back to the city council, but if it does she said her support would depend on the plans.
"If they were the two-and-a-half acre homes that were the plans, yes, but there was talk that they were building hotels and apartments and there were several different plans. So, it would really depend on sitting down and looking at the plans that are being presented," she said.
Overall, Seaman believes constituents want smart development, which is the job of the city council.
In Ward 3, Olivia Diaz defeated Melissa Clary by just 74 votes. She is replacing City Councilman Bob Coffin, who announced he would not seek a third term.
A big issue in Ward 3 is the Huntridge Theater. The historic theater has been closed for years and has fallen into disrepair. So far, efforts to revive it have failed.
"I think it sitting there and not being used is not productive," Diaz said. "I look forward to having thoughtful conversations with the neighborhood associations, with potential developers, with all of the stakeholders to make the appropriate decisions about what we should do to move Huntridge forward."
Diaz said there are different opinions about what should be done with the property but she believes it really comes down to making the best decision for the whole community.
Another big problem in Diaz's ward is homelessness. Ward 3 is home to a majority of the homeless services in the city, and 40 percent of all homeless people in the valley. She said everyone needs to get involved with solving the homeless issue in Southern Nevada, not just the City of Las Vegas.
"I really do believe we need to have thoughtful analysis, thoughtful conversations and really provide systematic programming that aligns with the different types of homelessness that exists in our valley because they are not one and the same," she said.
While 40 percent of the homeless are concentrated in Ward 3, it is not the only place where homeless people are living.
City Councilman-elect Knudsen's ward also has a problem with homelessness. He agreed that it needs to be addressed by federal, state and local leaders working together.
"We can't talk about it in relation to ward by ward by ward in the City of Las Vegas — it is the entire valley," he said. "We cannot do that with just one jurisdiction — it is everyone coming to the table to talk about what is in the best interest for the growth of our community."
While Seaman's ward encompasses some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the city, it is also home to lower income areas. She agreed that conversations need to start now on solving the problem everywhere.
State lawmakers approved a bill that allows local jurisdictions, like the City of Las Vegas, to hike sales taxes to pay for homeless services. None of the new council members were ready to say for sure that they were going to raise sales taxes. They all agreed they would need more information about what services were needed and if their constituents would be willing to pay the increase before approving it.
The new council members will be sworn in on July 3.
There were other races held in Boulder City and North Las Vegas. To see all of the election results, see the Clark County Elections website.
Olivia Diaz, city councilwoman-elect, City of Las Vegas; Victoria Seaman, city councilwoman-elect, City of Las Vegas; Brian Knudsen, city councilman-elect, City of Las Vegas
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