The city of Las Vegas should hire a lobbyist to help it get more money from the state government, a state lawmaker advised local officials last week.
State Rep. Richard Vigil, D-Ribera, said the city should have its lobbyist all year long, not just during legislative sessions.
He said a lobbyist could be especially helpful between annual sessions. That’s when interim committees meet and their members could really gain an understanding of the city’s needs, he said.
“The lobbyist can give you monthly updates,” Vigil said. “I won’t promote any particular person.”
From 2005 to this year, City Attorney Matthew Sandoval worked as the city’s lobbyist during legislative sessions. Sandoval left his job for his successful run for district judge. No one has replaced him as city lobbyist.
Legislators were invited to speak to the City Council this week. Both Vigil and Rep. Thomas Garcia, D-Ocat, showed up, while state Sen. Pete Campos, D-Las Vegas, didn’t because he had a work session in his role as president of Luna Community College.
In recent years, the City Council has made water projects its top priority for funding, but it also has included scores of other items on its wish list.
Garcia, who also represents Raton, said that community decided to make a recreation center its only priority. He said such a focus may help Raton achieve its goal.
Garcia also said that area governmental entities should be wise when making requests to the state Legislature. He said that instead of local school districts and colleges all trying to get funds for better baseball fields, they could combine their efforts to get one state-of-the-art facility.
“Let’s not worry if it’s on the east or west side,” he said.
Garcia said the Las Vegas area has a very senior delegation, which helps the community.
Councilman Morris Madrid praised the innovation of the local legislative delegation. He said a couple of years ago, state hospital officials approached the delegation to seek money for a new nursing home building at the hospital.
He said that rather than going through the normal appropriations process, the local lawmakers placed $10 million for the nursing home as part of the statewide general obligation bond for health facilities. Voters approved the bond last week, which means taxpayers statewide will foot the bill.
“The legislators think in new and innovative ways,” he said.