Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011 | 1:14 p.m.
Henderson’s new city attorney, Josh M. Reid, said this week that he is eager to move past the controversy surrounding his appointment and onto city business.
Reid, the fourth of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s five children, was unanimously appointed to the post at a special council meeting Nov. 29 over the other city attorney finalist — current interim City Attorney Christine Guerci-Nyhus.
The appointment angered some Henderson residents, who felt that Reid received favorable treatment from the council because of his father’s political stature and phone calls from the elder Reid to city officials. Several citizens wrote letters to the Mayor and two Henderson residents spoke against Reid’s appointment.
“I ignore those kinds of things,” said Reid in an interview with the Sun. “I’m comfortable with who I am and it’s not something I deal with a lot. I think most of the controversy was drummed up by the press and there really wasn’t a whole lot of controversy.”
The 40-year-old environmental and energy attorney replaces Elizabeth Quillin, who resigned in August. Quillin was arrested for DUI in May.
Reid said he has known Mayor Andy Hafen for years and didn’t need his father to call the mayor on his behalf. He said he was unaware that his father was going to make the call.
“When I found out he made calls, I asked him not to do that,” said Reid. “I don’t think he was calling to have them select me, he was just concerned as a father.”
The council changed the original job requirements for the position, they said, after it was clear that they were limiting the field of candidates who could apply. Some residents speculated that the requirements were altered to keep Reid in the running.
“I think it’s disgusting,” Robert Sulliman, a Henderson resident who urged the council not to appoint Reid, said after the vote. “It’s not what is best for the citizens, the taxpayers of Henderson.”
But Reid said he believes such criticism reflects the attitudes of a tiny minority.
“Only two people spoke at the meeting and it was nothing personal against me — it was all about my father. That’s not something I focus on,” said Reid.
As shareholder in Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck’s Natural Resources Department, Reid’s practice focuses on environmental, energy and regulatory issues.
“As a private attorney I deal with a lot of general council clients and I understand the role,” said Reid, who could earn up to $199,000 in his new job.
His resume includes a decade of work in the private sector, something the mayor and council said appealed to them.
Before joining Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Reid worked at Parsons Behle and Latimer as well as Lionel Sawyer and Collins. He also served on the Utah State Board of Regents where he said he oversaw 10 public universities and colleges. He said his time serving on the Utah State Board of Education gave him experience in dealing with large public budgets.
“There is no greater scheme,” said Reid. “I have no interest in elected office. I just want to give as much time as I can to help the city.”
Reid and the city council are still in negotiations for the city attorney contract that must be finalized before he can take the post.