Editor's note: This originally aired on Oct. 7.
The pandemic has dominated the first half of Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman’s final term in office.
More than 5,700 Southern Nevadans have died from COVID-19 and it decimated the tourist-driven economy.
Goodman told State of Nevada that Las Vegans have been “awesome” in rising to the occasion but “there's been a lot of aggravation” in navigating the government’s response.
She said officials reacted too hastily at the start of the pandemic in shutting down casinos and schools.
“There are a lot of places that rely on tourists, but it’s not as all consuming as it is here, in particular in Southern Nevada, and to close the hotels, and beyond that to close the schools, I went ballistic.”
Goodman, one of the founders of the private Meadows School, said the Clark County School District was left in “not a very good academic position overall” when students were forced into distance learning.
“How could you possibly close down a school district for 320,000 children?” she said.
“I would never have closed the school system,” Goodman said, adding that it was a huge challenge for families “unless they could afford to have tutors.”
Goodman said a lot of initial decisions were made “without thinking through how are we going to bring this back?”
She said the city was able to navigate the pandemic, in part, because of lessons learned during the Great Recession, when the city dealt with a stiff decline in revenue.
“We sort of had a sense of what to do and how to do it,” Goodman said.
She said sales tax revenues have “been a savior for this city” as people look for places to spend pandemic stimulus checks.
In other topics, Mayor Goodman said the Oakland A’s would “really like to move here.”
She said the Major League Baseball team is continuing relocation discussions even as Oakland sweetens its offer to keep the team. This led Goodman to wonder if exploring a move to Las Vegas is in fact “a wedge” to drive a better deal in the Bay Area.
Goodman also said expanding Interstate 15 between Las Vegas and Southern California should be a priority, and not just because it would make the trip easier for tourists.
She said the logistical bottlenecks that are keeping container ships idling off California’s coast are harming the U.S. economy.
“It's just a huge logjam that's costing a fortune sitting out there,” she said.
Goodman, after serving three terms, is ineligible to run for re-election in 2024. She said she “would not tell” if she has decided who she wants to succeed her in office.
Carolyn Goodman, mayor, Las Vegas
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