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LV Candidate Olivia Diaz On What Downtown Needs


Olivia Diaz quit the state legislature just so she could run for a seat on the Las Vegas City Council.


Ward 3 includes most of downtown Las Vegas, including Fremont Street and the arts district.   


Why did you leave the State Legislature to run for city council?

“First and foremost, I’m a 30-plus year resident of Ward 3. It’s home. It’s where I’m choosing to raise my son today. The same place that I grew up as a young woman. I felt that I could do so much more hands-on things with constituents and my neighbors in Ward 3. So, I decided to step down from the Assembly because I feel that for us to run for another position we need to let go of the previous position we held. So that somebody else can 100 percent dedicate themselves to that work. I know the legislative work is really important.”

What the big issues you’re looking forward to tackling?

“Short-term my goals are to engage my neighbors more, have conversations, keep them up-to-date with any changes. I know that a lot neighbors are sharing with me at the door that they want to see cleanup efforts happen ward-wide. They are sharing that there are certain infrastructure upkeep needs like sidewalks and lighting and all of that is so awesome because you get to be the motor behind those efforts, but you do it shoulder to shoulder.

Long-term, obviously public safety is a concern for a lot of folks. They want to feel safe in homes and they want to see more patrol units on the lookout for any activity that shouldn’t be happening. A lot of folks are concerned about the homelessness issue and I know about 40 percent of the homeless population does resident in Ward 3.

All of us need to come together - state, federal, local governments and we need to come up with some solutions that get to the root of the problem and put people back on their feet.

We’re also thinking long-term that business processes are streamlined so that more folks can be part of the city of Las Vegas and do business in our city. I know that there are a lot of business that we want coming to the Ward and so, how we make sure we’re still attractive and we’re not creating obstacles to small business owners wanting to open their doors but then wanting to keep them open.”

If elected, what is one thing you could do to improve the homelessness situation?

“There are different populations of homeless. I envision the courtyard being an intake center and then from the courtyard if we could create those partnerships I spoke of previously with the state, the federal and our county and other municipalities. If we can all come together – even business. I think business is also interested in making sure that the homeless population declines in Las Vegas.

How can we all come together, make a plan and make sure there is a way to intake the homeless at the courtyard and then put them on a pathway that will help those that are ready to get back on their feet, because there’s a lot of mental health situations with homeless, there’s a lot of substance abuse with homeless people and there are those who have become bankrupt and lost everything they had and they’re working homeless but they just can’t catch up.

So, how can we help create a pathway with the services and transitional housing that people need to have a fighting chance to get back into the community.”

Do you have a solution for Huntride Circle Park?

“I like the direction we’re heading. I know that the city of Las Vegas authorized a public-private partnership there for Circle Park to create it into an interactive park. It will maintain the area for children and then the sculpture part of it will be changed up every so often and I love that concept because, one: it will be an invitation for people to come and check out that sculpture park and then two: with the private-public partnership it ensures there’s an investment on both ends, the city and that private partner to make sure that we’re doing our best to keep that park a vibrant space for our communities and neighbors around Circle Park to enjoy.

There does definitely have to be some measures put in place that ensure safety above everything else.”

What kind of transportation solutions do you support for Maryland Parkway?

“Light rail would be amazing. I think that it would be forward thinking and innovative. It would bring a lot of synergy and life to the commute from the university corridor all the way to downtown, which is reinventing itself every day and it’s super exciting to see that.

It would be amazing to see light rail. Maybe we’re envisioning a light rail plan that has all the bells and whistles on it but maybe we have to start very basic. Maybe we could do something that is cost-effective if its somewhat similar price tag to going with what was decided with the alternative transit model.”

How did your service in the Assembly prepare you for the city council?

I think that it definitely built my repertoire in terms of policy issues. I got to sit on education, judiciary, ways and means, commerce and labor… I sat on a variety and plethora of committees in that tenure, but I think that it equipped me when I landed in the Legislature with being a fiscal hawk and having to live within our means. The budget had to be pruned quite significantly because the resources weren’t coming in and so I know how to balance a budget in times that are difficult. I know how to start growing out when we start to see more resources coming in.

What laws did you pass that helped the people living in your ward the most?

The one I’m most proud of collaborating on is Zoom initiative and the Victory school initiative. That gave schools that have a high number of English language learners or at-risk kids who live in poverty more resources to those schools that were underperforming so that we made sure that all children had a level playing field.

I don’t believe that the determinate of children’s success shouldn’t be determined by zip code. We knew a lot of these schools that were high ELL and underperforming needed more resources and more assistance when they were in school.

Slowly but surely, Zoom schools are showing that they’re working for their students and that makes me happy as an educator.”

Why should you represent Ward 3?

I should represent Ward 3 because I have a love for my community. It was a community that helped to lift and raise me and I just want to continue to do that same thing for my neighbors and the children that are coming behind us. I want to make sure we are all working together to lift one another and continue to be proud to live there.

Olivia Diaz, 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.