John L. Smith: Despite Low Voter Turnout, Municipal Elections Have Big Impacts

It’s been one week since municipal elections. 

Three new faces are on the Las Vegas City Council. Brian Knudsen, Olivia Diaz, and Victoria Seaman all won their races. 

Knudsen is taking over for Lois Tarkanian in Ward 1. Tarkanian is being term-limited out of office.

Oliva Diaz will be representing Ward 3. She will be taking over for Bob Coffin, who decided not to run.

But for Nevada Public Radio contributor John L. Smith, the surprise in the City of Las Vegas was Ward 2.  

“The surprise I would say is the kind of really marathon race you could say of Victoria Seaman,” he said.

Seaman was involved in the effort to recall Councilman Steve Seroka. Seroka resigned in March. He has not publically announced why he was leaving.

But since Seaman had already agreed to run for that seat if the recall effort was successful, “she was already ahead of the game essentially,” Smith said.

In North Las Vegas, incumbent Richard Cherchio turned back challenger Pete Sheilds. And while the number of people who voted in the City of Las Vegas was small - about 4,000 - the number in North Las Vegas was even smaller, 1,899 votes - Smith said.

“Now think about it, if you have driven through traffic to get to work this morning, you have driven past far more than 1,899 people,” he said.

Support comes from

Smith pointed out the City of North Las Vegas' budget is upwards of $600 million. When you think about it, he said, it is real power on the city council.

And after many years struggling financially, once again North Las Vegas appears to be growing.

“North Las Vegas is really kind of a comeback kid right now. Economically and financially, it’s improving. The community as a whole is improving. Government there is growing,” he said.

A new mayor and changes on the city council in Boulder City may signal a change in politics in that community.

The voter turnout there was much higher, about 45 percent.

Incumbent Mayor Rod Woodbury lost. He was replaced by Kiernan McManus. 

“There was an interesting groundswell in Boulder City that took place and it knocked Woodbury out of office,” Smith said.

Smith noted that Boulder City is changing and not everyone likes the way the growth in the community is being handled. They've developed the Boulder City Alliance and that alliance backed candidates that ended up winning, including McManus.

“A little fresh blood if you will, even though in the case of McManus he was already on the council,” Smith said.

Boulder City is obviously a smaller community that is more in touch with politics and politicians, which is something that Smith said bigger communities like Las Vegas should be doing.



John L Smith, KNPR contributor 

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