Changing his mind, Mayor Henry Sanchez announced this morning that he would run again.
Two weeks ago, Sanchez told the public on a radio show that he didn’t want to run for a fourth two-year term because he felt he may become a “hindrance” to city government if he won. He also said Las Vegas needed a new mayor who could start out fresh with the media, which he contended had been unfairly critical of City Hall.
But this morning, he said he had received much encouragement to reverse his decision.
Sanchez announced his bid for re-election on KFUN-AM’s “What’s Cooking at City Hall?” the same program in which he made his earlier announcement. He urged other candidates to keep the race clean and focus on the issues.
“People get tired of the mudslinging,” he said.
Sanchez said after his initial announcement, he determined that no other candidate had as much experience as mayor and his his strong relationships with various government entities.
The only other announced candidates so far are former state employee Tonita Gurul-Giron and Ramon “Swoops” Montao, a member of the Las Vegas City Schools board.
Still considering runs are former Mayor Matt Martinez and City Councilman Tony Marquez. Councilwoman Diane Moore, who had been looking at a mayoral run, said this week that she would seek re-election to her Ward 2 seat.
In 2006, Sanchez handily defeated Martinez and Montao with nearly half the vote. His decision to run this year could convince others not to enter into the fray.
Councilman Morris Madrid, a close ally of Sanchez, said he had been pushing the mayor to reverse his decision.
“I would love to see him run again. I love working with Henry,” Madrid said Thursday.
He said if Sanchez didn’t run again, it would be a “missed opportunity” because the City Council’s size is dropping from eight members to four.
“The council hasn’t been unified by virtue of its numbers. A lot of issues should be addressed a lot more efficiently and cohesively. That’s why I supported the reduction of the council,” he said.
Both Madrid and Councilman Cruz Roybal are seen as a pro-Sanchez voting block. With Sanchez’s power to break ties, the mayor could gain greater sway over the council.
Sanchez has been particularly close to Madrid, a former city manager. When a council majority fired Madrid in 2005, Sanchez stormed out of the meeting, arguing that the council made a big mistake — perhaps his strongest stand as mayor.
He stayed away from the office for a few days, visiting with his father in Albuquerque and considering whether to remain as mayor.
During his time away, a full-page ad was taken out in the newspaper asking Sanchez not to resign. When he came back, he decided that he wanted to keep his job.
He has since kept cordial relations with council members, going so far as repeatedly defending their salaries, which, at $19,854 a year, are among the highest in the state. Their pay has been the source of much controversy in Las Vegas.
Sanchez has faced a difficult year, dealing with residents’ anger over high heating bills. The bills were much higher than those in other communities.
Although the mayor said he didn’t have control over the prices, it turned out that he had a measure of power in dealing with the sizable amount of natural gas revenues that are diverted to the city’s general fund, which pays for everything from police to parks.
On the radio program, Sanchez said the utility situation has been a “big scourge on my heart.” But he said groups such as Love Your Neighbor, which he helped found, are helping the poor and elderly with their heating bills.
Sanchez has often pointed out that he doesn’t fire employees such as city manager, as have other mayors. In fact, when he took the helm in 2002, he kept the city manager, breaking precedent. That manager, Roberto Pineda, lasted some months before the council voted to fire him.
Sanchez has consistently defended the city manager and department heads, as well as all city employees.
Sanchez said on KFUN that when he first ran he believed he could change things “instantaneously.” But he acknowledged that’s not the case.
“There is always criticism. You can't keep everyone happy; you try your best,” he said.
He said he was taking into account his own feelings when he decided not to run. But he said his father set him straight.
“My dad said, ‘You’re a big boy. Take the criticism,’” he said.