Editor's Note - Power shifts

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By Tom McDonald

Hidden within our municipal races this year is the stark reality that two of the most progressive council members in recent times are about to step aside. And while both of them were touted at one time or another as outstanding candidates for mayor, in the final analysis neither of them sought that position.

I’m talking about Diane Moore, who was elected to the council in 2006 and Andrew Feldman, who won his seat in 2008. They were usually allies on the political battlefield, but they often had very different approaches to the issues facing Las Vegas.

I remember when Moore first became a council member, at a time when we still had eight councilors. She stood out from the field not only because she was the sole woman on the council but because she kept her ear to the ground. She listened to people — that’s how she got elected, and that’s how she served.

By the time 2008 rolled around, a lot of people wanted her to run for mayor. I think if she had run, she could have won, but we’ll never know.

On the other hand, it took Feldman two tries to get on the council, having lost in his first attempt in 2006. When he won two years later, he rode in with Tony Marquez, who upset the popular mayoral incumbent Henry Sanchez. That year the eight-to-four reduction in council membership took effect, and Marquez, Feldman and Moore became a three-vote alliance — for a time. It lasted only about a year, then the political winds shifted and Marquez realigned himself with councilors Morris Madrid and Cruz Roybal.

Moore and Feldman came back into “majority” power in 2010, when Alfonso Ortiz coasted in as mayor. The three of them haven’t always seen eye-to-eye, but mostly when they needed to they stood together to do things such as supporting City Manager Timothy Dodge and pushing a number of water issues forward. In their trail they left councilors Tonita Gurulé-Giron and David Romero in the dust more than once.

Now we’re an election away from another power shift, and the possible scenarios are interesting indeed. If Gurulé-Giron is elected mayor, she’ll get to select her successor in the Ward 1 council seat she’ll vacate. Her appointment, however, will have to be approved by the remaining council members — David Romero and whoever is elected to replace Feldman and Moore.

I can’t say who she’d name (and I’m kicking myself for not asking her that already) but I’d venture to say it will be someone in Ward 1 who’s both politically ambitious and currently supports her run for mayor.

Then again, if incumbent Mayor Alfonso Ortiz or anyone else wins, Gurulé-Giron will continue to sit in a position of power. With her fellow councilor, Romero, in her camp, all she needs is one of the newcomers and she can control the council vote. I’m not saying that will happen, but it’s certainly possible.

Tom McDonald is editor and publisher of the Optic. He may be reached at 505-425-6796, ext. 237, or tmcdonald@lasvegasoptic.com.