Here’s some premature speculating on next year’s mayoral election, already a hot topic among at least a few Las Vegas political animals.
I’ve heard eight names thrown into the mix, and having spoken with nearly all of them, can announce the intentions of two in particular.
First, the names: There are three former City Council members, Morris Madrid, Louie Trujillo and Macario Gonzalez, and two current councilors, Andrew Feldman and Tonita Gurule-Giron. Then there’s former mayor Matt Martinez and longtime businessman Vince Howell. And, as a wild card, our current mayor, Alfonso Ortiz, could jump in again, even if he says he won’t.
I gleaned those names from conversations with friends and sources last week. So I spent a couple of days calling around to gauge their intentions.
“If you just have to know ... I’m in,” Feldman said when I asked him. “I don’t want to see us go backwards. ... Las Vegas is a diamond in the rough and we can do a lot better than we are now.” Never one to mince words — which could both help and hurt him on the campaign trail — he says he intends to “formally” announce his campaign later.
He’s the only one I called who answered with any decisiveness. All others gave me various degrees of maybe.
One of Feldman’s City Council counterparts, Gurule-Giron, said she doesn’t know yet.
“A lot of people have talked to me about it,” she said, “but I’m uncertain.”
She’s run for mayor before. With the right backing, she could be a formidable force.
As for Trujillo, he wouldn’t say yes or no. “I’m still meeting with family and political allies, and there’s several more I want to meet with before I make my decision.”
I suspect he’ll be “formally” running soon enough.
Gonzalez, a veteran council member who lost his return bid last year to Gurule-Giron, says he’s thinking about it. “Not to be arrogant about it, but I think I’d make a good mayor,” he said. However, he also said that being mayor is essentially a full-time job, and he’s also quite active at his church, Our Lady of Sorrows, and doesn’t want to “take away from Jesus.”
Madrid hedged a little, then when I told him who was on my list, said “not likely.”
Martinez simply said it’s “too far away” — and when I told him what I’d heard about his possible supporters, he confirmed only that he’s had “a few conversations.”
Here’s what I heard about Martinez: Some local Democratic Party leaders, flush with success in the West Las Vegas school board elections, in which they backed Matt Martinez’s brother Marvin in a big win over Caroline Lopez, they approached Matt about his running, again, for mayor. So, while Martinez’s “few conversations” comment isn’t exactly a confirmation that this story is correct, it sounds pretty close.
Meanwhile, Howell, who was in California at the time that I made my inquiry, replied to my e-mail with an almost definitive answer to my question: “At this point, no,” he replied when I asked if he was going to run. I know he’s played around with the idea before, but I wouldn’t count on him jumping in. He seems satisfied doing other things right now.
As for our current mayor, he was unquestionably definite a few months ago when he announced that he would not seek re-election. I believed him. But I imagine there’s more than one person out there — other than the one who suggested it to me — who thinks that Ortiz might just change his mind. He does, after all, seem quite happy in the position.
What’s more, he wouldn’t be the first mayor to reverse such an announcement.
Remember Henry Sanchez in 2008?
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In any event, how next year’s mayoral race plays out will depend heavily on whether the new charter, which was approved by a majority of the voters last year, will actually take effect. It may require a summary judgment in court to determine its legal ratification, since there’s a question as to whether its passage required a simple majority or a supermajority of 60 percent. The charter passed last year with a 56 percent majority.
If it does go into effect in 2012, a crowded field won’t mean the same as it did in elections past.
The new charter brings with it a runoff provision, which means that the top two vote-getters would face each other in a second vote.
Tom McDonald is editor and publisher of the Optic. He may be reached at 505-425-6796, ext. 237, or firstname.lastname@example.org.