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LV Candidate Melissa Clary On Homelessness, Huntridge Theater


Melissa Clary got known in downtown Las Vegas running a foundation that tried to save the Huntridge Theater. Now she is running for Las Vegas City Council. 


The longtime city employee is going after Bob Coffin’s seat in Ward 3. Ward 3 includes most of downtown, including Fremont Street and the arts district.  


What are the biggest issues in Ward 3?

“The biggest issue hands down that I see with everything underneath it or related to it is homelessness. You can’t do anything in Ward 3 without being affected by the overwhelming number of people living on the streets. It has bled into the neighborhoods. It’s challenged existing businesses in the area and it’s made it difficult to not only retain business but attract investment in our area.”

What is the solution to the homelessness problem?

“We have a shortage of housing. A shortage of obtainable or affordable housing stock in our valley but in particular in Ward 3 where we have a lower median household income, to begin with. We are also ground zero for homelessness because of the location of all of the homeless shelters in our area.

A lot of the other entities push the homeless into our area. We really have to come at the problem with a comprehensive, strategic, actionable plan. And that is what the Nevada Legislature has recently pushed us to do with an interagency statewide coalition. I sat on the Southern Nevada Homelessness Continuum of Care Board for three years as a community advocate to become better educated on this issue.

The solution overwhelmingly points to increase housing stock and go up to the Legislature with one voice to address a lot of the gaps we’re facing locally.”

Would you want more city money to go to the issue?

“Before we get into throwing money at the issues, we really need to approach this with an actionable plan that breaks down what our short-term strategy is. That has been my vocal critique of the existing courtyard project that the city has embarked upon.

I feel that it needs to be broken down as far as what we’re budgeting for. What are the key performance indicators for the population that’s being served? What is the expertise needed? I have not seen any cost put to the solutions currently on the table and the budgeted projects that the city has already committed to. That’s very important. I think that’s why the business sector has not been as willing to contribute money to some of these projects because they want to see a plan also. It’s not that we don’t have willing partners. I think it's just that we haven’t approached it comprehensively, meaning all stakeholders at the table to address what is the long-term strategy here?”

What’s going on at the Huntridge Theater?

The Huntridge Theater has long been something I’ve advocated for. I live in the Huntridge neighborhood. It is a landmark not only to downtown but to the historic neighborhoods. The original core of Las Vegas. It’s been shuttered 14 – 15 years.

There are developments in the works. A particular developer is interested in the property… he is currently looking at that in a collaboration with the city. I’m not privy to all of the details but I know over the years in looking for a passionate developer and operator of the building, he’s been someone who has come to the table and who has been interested.

You’ll probably hear news any day now and I’m sure if something were to pencil, we’ll all get news of that transaction.”

What do you support for transportation along Maryland Parkway?

“All hands seem to point to light rail as the public choice. I was surprised when bus rapid transit was the decided upon choice. It’s challenging because I wasn’t privy to all of the information that the people who voted on perhaps had in front of them. But I was a proponent of light rail. I think with transit-oriented development opportunities for Maryland to replace a lot of the aging infrastructure to address significant issues like ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] accessibility, we have a lack of complete streets there. I think there were some solutions that would have tied in well with light rail.”

What about your work at the city will translate to the city council?

“My background is planning and land use. Working at the city, I was responsible for working a team of people on public works, planning, maintenance, and operations to acquire funding, land for new construction of recreation centers, trails and green space. And as part of that, working for the department for what was then leisure services or now parks and recreation. I was able to identify external funds, grants. I worked on contract management.

The bulk of what a city council person does is related to development, planning and land use. I’m a proponent of thoughtful planning, especially in Ward 3 where we have historic preservation projects and we have the Arts District. I worked with First Friday folks in my past and that’s a prominent event in our area. So, I want to see them succeed. Heritage tourism is key and that is something I worked on in the early days at the city.

All of the things I worked on and my understanding of city operations, I think they will definitely translate well to being city council representative.”

Why should you be on the city council?

“I’m extremely passionate for our area, the Arts District, downtown, and the east side. We need improvement. I’m here with the skill set and the passion to turn our area around. I will be a huge advocate and I will hit the ground running as far as the skill sets that I bring to city council. I feel I’m the best person to serve our ward and I would like your vote on election day."

Melissa Clary, Las Vegas City Council Candidate

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Kristy Totten is a producer at KNPR's State of Nevada. Previously she was a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly, and has covered technology, education and economic development for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. She's a graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism.