It would be a disservice to define Tony Marquez, who died Friday at age 43, simply according to his two years as mayor of Las Vegas. His life and his work were so much more.
For more than a dozen years, Marquez was a City Council member, working to represent the interests of Ward 3 and dedicated to the overall betterment of his hometown. During those years he made a name for himself as a populist of sorts, and was often recognized as someone who went against the city’s political establishment. So when he decided to run for mayor in 2008, he was seen by many — including this newspaper’s editorial board — as a fresh alternative.
His election signaled a big change at City Hall and, perhaps not surprisingly, his term in office was quite turbulent.
Despite our support for his candidacy, we didn’t always see eye to eye with Marquez the mayor, and our relationship with him suffered as a result. Regardless of those differences, we appreciate his best efforts. He involved the public in the political decisionmaking at City Hall, including the hiring of our current city manager. He created a charter commission to take on longstanding weaknesses in the city’s constitution. And he addressed water disputes with a new approach — involving fewer attorneys.
Moreover, let’s not forget that, when it came to grassroots efforts to reduce both the City Council’s size and councilors’ salaries, Marquez was an early and ardent supporter of both.
Over and above all his accomplishments, however, is an underlying standard to his work as an elected official — his dedication to serving the people. Too often, politicians serve themselves first; Marquez wasn’t that way. Through all the controversies that surrounded his tenure as council member and mayor, never was there a moment when he was caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar. And in the rough-and-tumble arena of Las Vegas politics, Marquez fought for what he thought was right.
His family can be proud of his life and work. And, indeed, it is with his family where his greatest legacy rests. He was a devoted husband, father and grandfather, taken from his loved ones far, far too soon. Our heart goes out to them for this great loss.
Tony Marquez lived a good life — both as a family man and a public servant. We are all better off for his service to family and community.