Las Vegas Sun

October 24, 2014

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A new start in North Las Vegas

North Las Vegas has exceptional characteristics and endless potential — a true diamond in the rough. The challenges our community faced over the past few years were compounded by poor vision and petty politics. Yesterday’s leadership lacked the ability to address complex problems and challenges because it relied on limited-size-fits-all solutions, similar to the old adage “If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

North Las Vegas has an abundance of tools in the capable hands of a visionary city council, and we intend to deliberately build on our special assets and advantages. We must promote production over consumption, investment over speculation, sustainability over waste, and build an economy that works for working families. Despite the challenges of the past, voters believe in our town, they want it to succeed, and they voted for a new vision to take North Las Vegas in a new direction.

I believe all roads to our valley’s success travel to and through our town. We will be a regional partner that is a self-sufficient team player committed to shared cooperation and growth. Our history of not playing well with others has been replaced with a sense of community and common purpose dedicated to getting our future right. I will seek win-win regional solutions that promote long-term shared successes, not short-term individual victories. I understand the lessons we all learned in the grade school sandbox: Playing well with others ensures sharing in mutual rewards and benefits. As one of the largest towns in our state, North Las Vegas must look across challenges and work with regional partners to resolve shared challenges.

During this transition period, I have been meeting with council members to create an outline of the initiatives discussed during the campaign for the purpose of developing a policy blueprint for the next few years. First, we will begin by forming the Blue Ribbon Financial Accountability for Community Transparency (FACT) Commission that will conduct an extensive top-down review of the city’s financial situation. North Las Vegas has a financial problem, and fixing any problem begins by carefully diagnosing the problem before prescribing the solutions.

The FACT Commission will be an independent group of city stakeholders, financial experts from the governor’s office, accounting professionals and community leaders. The commission will put everything on the table and thoroughly go through city finances and policies. The commission will have a mandate to return and report to the council by Dec. 1 with its conclusions consisting of the financial condition of the city, recommendations for changing or adopting new policies and procedures, and recommendations for implications of best practices.

The FACT Commission will help establish a trusted baseline of the financial condition of the city and assist in the implementation of policies to repair North Las Vegas and ensure a prosperous future. I believe the FACT Commission will provide an essential report to establish exactly where we are and sound recommendations for a successful and strong recovery.

North Las Vegas is made up of smart and visionary business leaders, passionate and effective community activists, talented and experienced professionals, and other citizens capable of doing great and wonderful things. I learned a long time ago that success comes when you focus on the challenges two hours a day and focus on success the other 22 hours a day. We are going to drill down on our strategic plan and focus on who we are, how we fit within the region, and what we do well.

We are going to be specific and aggressively focus on economic development opportunities in aerospace, logistics and health care. We are going to leverage our location along Interstate 15 to attract logistics and manufacturing, use Nellis Air Force Base to attract defense contractors, and leverage the new Veterans Administration Hospital to grow a much needed health care sector. We will also partner with College of Southern Nevada to ensure we are prepared to meet the capacity requirements of these industries.

Voters decided to close the door to our past and open a new door to the future. Our first step will be addressing our financial situation through an independent and thorough review of our city’s financial situation. We must push the “reset button” and remove the cloud of uncertainty created by past decisions.

Through collaborative teamwork, we will develop a plan to repair our town by defining and measuring what is important. Now is the time to keep score and chart progress because North Las Vegas is going to help lead the region into the future.

John Lee is the mayor-elect of North Las Vegas and will take office Monday.

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