Before getting involved in politics, Mayor Tony Marquez says he was a shy and private person.
“I was extremely quiet, the guy who didn’t want to speak before the class, partly because of my speech, but sometimes you’ve just got to roll up your sleeves and get done what needs to be done,” Marquez said.
Marquez said he recognized as a kid that he was different from others but embraced his differences.
“People also used to talk about my eyes being blue,” he said with a grin.
Marquez, now a state Corrections Department official, got his first taste of politics after being appointed as a city councilman by then-Mayor Tony Martinez after the resignation of Frank Berged.
“During my first year on the City Council, I was amazed by the amount of responsibility and authority of a city council member. It ranges from personnel, recreation to utilities, budgets, finance, streets and potholes, so when you’re a city councilor, you realize you’re in a position to help people,” Marquez said.
Marquez said in his first term as a city councilman, he became more aware of many of the barriers keeping the city from moving forward in a progressive way. He said he started looking at ways that would give city government a solid foundation built on principles and fairness.
“I was instrumental in getting the nepotism laws passed so people would stop bringing in all their relatives. I also wrote the governing body’s rules of procedure that never existed in city government in Las Vegas,” Marquez said.
Marquez said he pushed for a code of ethics for elected officials and budgetary responsibility.
“The budget being the backbone of any organization, a financial plan of where you want to go and how you plan to fund it,” Marquez said. “You start realizing that certain line items can be padded and manipulated, so I became more involved in the financial aspects of the expenditures in trying to hold people more accountable. I took the lead in revising the procurement code because if there were questions, someone could pull out an administrative regulation, city ordinance, state statute or a resolution, so in December, we implemented a master document that follows one procurement code.”
Another Marquez initiative was the budget formulation calendar, which is broken down by month and requires public input.
“I think it’s important to set the priorities for city government, and that the public be involved because they’re not just taxpayers — they own City Hall.”
After just a couple of weeks in office, the new mayor said the difference between being a city councilman and holding the top city job is like night and day. He said his cell phone hasn’t stopped ringing and there’s a constant demand on his time with meetings and visits from dignitaries like U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman.
But Marquez said the added responsibility is exciting because now he feels like he can get more done for the community he said he loves.
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Las Vegas’ new first lady, Dolores Marquez, is her husband’s biggest supporter and spent a lot of time out on the campaign trail with the candidate. She said she was with him as he went door to door, made sure the two blanketed at least 85 percent of the city and recorded radio ads for the campaign.
“It was a very nice experience. People were very open as they allowed us to come into their homes — you know they want to be heard. I think they were really begging for change and excited about a fresh approach by a young man with the energy to get things done,” the first lady said.
Dolores Marquez said she and her husband found out just how much people had on their minds when they would go out to canvas a particular area. She said they could only do half the work they intended because “people wanted to be heard and City Hall was not listening.”
Dolores Marquez said she was never interested or knowledgeable about politics, but all that changed after Tony entered public life as a councilman.
“I didn’t really know a whole lot about politics until Tony and I got together, and he really taught me a lot about how much could be done if the right people focused on positive change. Now, I find it very exciting and have so much faith and belief in what he can do. When people were asking me why they should vote for Tony, I would tell them he’s going to go in there and make positive changes and make Las Vegas a city that everyone is proud to live in,” Marquez said.
Marquez said everyone, including herself and her husband, wants their children to stay in Las Vegas, but the reality is most are moving away because there are no jobs to keep them.
“The right person in the right job can definitely make a difference — that’s Tony. I think he is the best qualified to turn this city around. That’s not to take anything away from the other people who were running, but he has the education, vision, drive and everything that will make him a successful mayor,” Marquez said.
The first lady works for the state’s adult protective services agency, conducting investigations of abuse, neglect and exploitation of the elderly or the physical or mentally incapacitated.
Her work isn’t easy, but she said it’s rewarding knowing one’s actions keep people safe, although it’s the type of job where she says when she goes home, she still worries about their welfare.
Dolores Marquez’s parents moved from Denver to Las Vegas, where she was enrolled in the East school district and graduated from Robertson. She earned her degree in social work from Highlands University. He hobbies include exercising, riding all-terrain vehicles, boating, cooking and spending time with her family.
“I’m very proud of Tony, and I see him doing great things for our community. I’m very supportive in everything that he needs to do.”
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The new mayor and first lady aren’t extravagant in their hobbies or home life; his favorite things to do include reading newspapers and magazines. He said he likes to read the Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Daily and books on leadership just for fun.
“One thing people may not know about my husband is he’s a heck of a gardener; his cucumbers and zucchini are beautiful, I’ve been pushing him to enter some of his produce at the state fair. Oh, one other thing, he loves to chop wood,” Dolores Marquez said.