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election:

Buck defeats Robinson in race for North Las Vegas mayor

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Richard Brian / Special to the Sun

North Las Vegas City Council member Shari Buck is congratulated by her husband, Keith, after winning the race for mayor. Buck won the election with 54.79 percent of the vote.

Updated Tuesday, June 2, 2009 | 11:59 p.m.

NLV mayoral race

Shari Buck signs a T-shirt for campaign supporter Toni Lopez-Gonzales after Buck won Tuesday's election to become the next mayor of North Las Vegas. Buck defeated fellow City Council member William Robinson by a vote of 5,364 to 4,427. Launch slideshow »
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William Robinson

Shari Buck, who defeated fellow City Council member William Robinson in the race for North Las Vegas mayor, said that voters were looking for a leader with a plan focused on jobs, avoiding further foreclosures and reducing crime and “that’s been our message since the first day.”

Buck, who led the race the entire evening on Tuesday, captured 54.79 percent of the vote, compared to 45.21 percent for Robinson. Buck received 5,364 votes and Robinson 4,427.

At what turned into a victory party at the 3 Tomatoes and a Mozzarella restaurant, Buck thanked several dozen supporters. The crowd — which included Mayor Michael Montandon and Councilwoman Stephanie Smith — burst into applause, cheered and whistled when the final results came in shortly before 9:30 p.m.

Robinson, who was at his campaign headquarters at a downtown strip mall, said he planned to call Buck on Wednesday to congratulate her.

“I want to thank the people that voted for me and thank everyone who participated in the election, whether they voted for me or not,” Robinson said.

Buck will replace Montandon, who could not run again because of term limits and has announced a run for governor in 2010.

She will take office on July 1 and serve a four-year term.

Both Buck, 48, and Robinson, 69, are in their final term on the council because of term limits. Robinson will finish his seventh term on the council on June 30, 2011.

The next four years will be a period of change for the city. On Thursday, the mayor and council will break ground on a $142 million new city hall that is expected to open in late 2011. Buck will also preside over the grand opening of the city’s first regional park on the site of the former Craig Ranch Golf Course when the first phase opens next summer.

City leaders will face economic challenges including declining tax revenue, a high foreclosure rate and a budget that had to be trimmed by $24 million this fiscal year.

Both candidates said they would fight to bring new business to North Las Vegas.

Montandon said he and Buck are a lot alike in their beliefs and because she is a life-long resident, Buck has the institutional knowledge to be an effective mayor.

After 12 years in office, Montandon said providing a vision is the most important attribute a mayor can show.

“She was strolling the halls of the police station as a little kid, and she knows her way around North Las Vegas,” he said. “A lot of times it’s easier to chart the future when you know a little bit about the past. She can handle it.”

Buck said she was relieved and excited following the election. But she’s not nervous about taking office.

“I’ve sort of been waiting for this election to get over so I can jump in and do what I want to do now, which is go after those businesses and those jobs,” she said.

Montandon supported her throughout the campaign, Buck said.

Buck and Robinson both said they’ve always been professional to each other, even when they’ve disagreed.

During the campaign, a North Las Vegas businessman came forth showing documents that Robinson had been part of a FBI undercover investigation in the mid-1990s. Although Robinson was never charged and has said he did nothing wrong, Buck used the information in mailers sent to voters.

Buck also mailed fliers claiming Robinson is at the center of a federal investigation into the city’s housing authority.

The U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department has charged the city with misusing federal funds and is investigating just how much.

Robinson chairs the authority that also includes two other council members and Montandon.

The campaign was negative, Robinson said.

“You do whatever you can to win, and that’s what they did,” he said.

Buck said she didn’t have anything to do with the FBI investigation leaking to the media.

“I just reported what had been reported,” she said. “And those things obviously didn’t stick. They’re trying to pin William’s problems on me, but they did not stick because I think most people knew I had nothing to do with that.”

Buck has served on the City Council since 1999. The mother of four also serves on the Southern Nevada Regional Planning Coalition, is vice-chairwoman of the North Las Vegas Redevelopment Agency and is chairwoman of the Southern Nevada Water Authority Board. She is the daughter of former police chief Jim Avance.

Robinson, a retired Clark County School District counselor, has been on the council since 1983, making him the longest-serving elected official in Southern Nevada currently seated.

Tuesday’s results diverged from April’s primary in which Buck captured just 35 more votes than Robinson.

A total of 9,863 ballots were cast in the general election, or 12.73 percent of registered voters. The totals were typical of previous city races. The last mayoral election, in 2005, attracted 7,994 voters or 14.3 percent.

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