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January 27, 2015

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For the well-intentioned, losses in city elections sting


Richard Brian / Special to the Sun

North Las Vegas Ward 3 candidate Angelo Carvalho pauses for a photo as he greets voters Tuesday outside the Silver Mesa Community Center.

NLV council race

North Las Vegas Ward 3 candidate Angelo Carvalho pauses for a photo as he greets voters Tuesday outside the Silver Mesa Community Center.
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Some win, some lose. Such is life in politics.

In a small town the losses can feel all the more personal. People you know reject you.

Angelo Carvalho felt the pain Wednesday after absorbing a 14 percentage point beating in the North Las Vegas Ward 3 City Council race.

The hurt wasn’t just that he lost by so much. (“I was blown away,” he concedes. “I didn’t really see it coming. I’m just glad it’s over.”)

The hurt was because of how he was treated in the election, he says — put through a political meat grinder just because he was offering to help the community.

Cathy Rosenfield, 50, shares Carvalho’s sense of altruism.

Active in the community and a member of the Henderson Recreation Board, Rosenfield ran for City Council Ward 3. Like Carvalho, she lost by overwhelming numbers in Tuesday’s general election — but unlike Carvalho, she was not personally attacked.

She was simply outspent 22-to-1 by her opponent. Her take-away lesson: Money matters.

Carvalho, 41, says he learned something else: Elections can get personal.

He decided to run for the City Council seat a year ago, after returning from a 15-month tour as a military police officer in Iraq with the Army Reserve.

You serve your country, you serve your community. It seemed like the right thing to do.

He wasn’t a newcomer to community service. He serves as chairman of the city Planning Commission and in 2006 had run unsuccessfully for the state Assembly.

Carvalho was the person to announce his candidacy for the open North Las Vegas City Council seat and for months it seemed he would not have much competition. Then a flurry of candidates emerged, leading to a crowded six-person primary race.

Carvalho survived the primary, running on his experience with the Planning Commission and his military record. He told people he was a good person. A father. A soldier. A religious man.

The general election campaign became more political. He was criticized for moving into Ward 3 to run for the seat and for favoring development as a planning commissioner. His opponent complained he was overstating the support of his opponents from the primary.

“They called me a liar and all sorts of things,” Carvalho said. “It was like, ‘Wow.’ I couldn’t believe it was all going on.”

On Wednesday Carvalho said he wasn’t sure if he’ll run for office again. Maybe he’ll get another Planning Commission appointment. That wouldn’t be so bad.

“It’s my way of being involved with the community,” he said about local politics. “If they feel they don’t need me, so be it. I’m not going to cry about it.”

But he wishes more people would care about their City Council candidates. The turnout was about 13 percent (15 percent in Henderson). And during the campaigning, painfully few people cared what was going on.

“People don’t get to know the candidates,” Carvalho said. “They are lazy. They would rather sit on the couch and complain. Everybody has the candidates’ phone numbers. Do you know how many people called me? Four.”

Four, out of more than 77,000 active registered voters.

It’s sad and disappointing, he said.

What does Carvalho do now?

Next week he’s taking his family to Disney World.

Not to celebrate. Just to get away from it all.

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