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A change in leaders

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By David Giuliani

Mayor Tony Marquez called for unity in Las Vegas and promise to govern with citizen involvement after he was sworn in as mayor Saturday.

With more than 100 people in the audience, Marquez and City Council members Diane Moore and Andrew Feldman took the oath of office at Highlands University’s Leveo Sanchez Lecture Hall.

“We are moving forward as one community united — no longer East or West or Democrat or Republican, but one community as a whole,” Marquez said to applause.

Marquez beat Mayor Henry Sanchez and three other rivals in last week’s municipal election, while Feldman defeated four opponents in the Ward 3 council race. Moore, who has represented Ward 2 on the council for the last two years, ran unopposed for a second term.

Marquez was sworn in by his uncle, Albuquerque District Judge Michael Kavanaugh, while City Clerk CherylAnn Yara performed the ceremony for Feldman and Moore.

Marquez said Moore is loved by the community so much that no one ran against her. And he disagreed with people who call Feldman, who has lived in Las Vegas for five years, an outsider.

“He’s a newcomer, and he has good ideas,” the mayor said.

Marquez said the city has much work ahead.

“Rest assured, having known these individuals (council members), Las Vegas is in great hands,” he said in concluding his speech to a standing ovation.

In his speech, Feldman said the arena of politics is new to him. He said his opponents ran clean campaigns.

“I will do my best to do the right thing for Las Vegas,” he said.

Marquez took the oath of office privately in Santa Fe last Wednesday, a day after the election. When Sanchez came into City Hall on Thursday, he found out he was no longer mayor.

Sanchez said he was disappointed Marquez swore in without telling anyone first, rather than waiting until a public ceremony. Marquez, however, said he wanted to get started right away and felt that he could get requests for information at City Hall answered quicker if he were mayor.

Marquez said he wanted the public ceremony to be held during the weekend, so more people could attend. Indeed, the audience was bigger Saturday than it was during the weekday night swearing-in ceremony in 2006.

A number of top city employees attended, including interim City Manager Elmer Martinez, Police Chief Gary Gold, Fire Chief Andrew Duran, Utilities Director George DuFour and City Attorney Matt Sandoval.

A few other prominent Las Vegans attended, including former Councilman Macario Gonzalez, who left office after 21 years; activist Lorenzo Flores; former Councilman Carlos Gallegos; and Luna Community College Trustee Tony Valdez.

But it was striking how few other local officials attended the ceremony marking the change in city leadership. Sanchez didn’t show, nor did his two council allies, Cruz Roybal and Morris Madrid. Roybal said he would be out of town Saturday.

Under the city charter, Marquez must have an organizational meeting within 21 days. He must decide whether to reappoint the existing department directors or other top officials.

Marquez has assured that he has not made any “pre-selections” of people he would hire. He said he wanted to study the city government closely over the next days before making any decisions.