Friday, Oct. 25, 2013 | 2 a.m.
When former Switch CFO Darren Adair first moved to North Las Vegas for a job, he thought it would be a one-year stopover in his career.
Then he and his wife had kids. Adair adjusted to the desert heat and found himself serving on his local homeowners association board and getting attached to the community.
Twenty years later, after helping build two startups – including Switch data center – into successful companies, he finds himself as acting finance director of North Las Vegas. The City Council unanimously approved Adair's hiring Oct. 2. He’ll be in the position for an indefinite period, city officials said.
The Sun caught up with the finance director earlier this month to ask about his plans for the embattled city that has declared two financial emergencies as it recovers from the recession. Here is what he had to say:
Why leave your post as CFO at Switch to become the North Las Vegas finance director?
Switch’s expansion would require the greater amount of my time to be away from the family. The success of the company provided me an opportunity to redirect my time. It was the mayor who reached out to me first. ... It’s a community I’ve lived in for 20 years. The more I learned about the city and the issues at hand, the more I got excited about the experience and skill set I have as being of value to the city.
How will your experience in the private sector translate to the public sector?
There are a lot of similarities between the two environments. I’ve found a comfortable fit and a natural transition between many of the types of issues I was dealing with at Switch and here at North Las Vegas. Different words, different players, different people, but the fundamental principles are similar.
How do you plan to address the city’s issues with unions as you establish the budget?
One of the things that you will see the city continue to make an effort on is transparency and openness in discussing where the city’s at. I have not met the heads of the unions, but I believe if they have that information in front of them, honest and open conversations will occur and solutions will be reached that are in the best interest of the community.
The Legislature passed a bill that would allow the city to take money from its sewer and utility funds and use it. What role will the sewer fund be for the city?
We are making every effort to look at that as a solution to see what it can offer to solve other problems. It most likely will not be a solution for all the problems out there. At the end of the day, for the considerable amount taken from that fund to solve some of these other urgent problems from the city, I would think citizens expect down the road those funds would be replaced.
Where do you hope to generate revenue?
The city has some very valuable resources. There’s a lot of institutional knowledge inside the city. There is the potential for expansion of the northwestern part of town at Park Highlands; the commercial area that has the potential to develop further between North Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Speedway. Both of those have the potential to bring newer businesses to the valley and infrastructure to the community.
Where do you project the city to be financially in five years?
I’m encouraged. My sense is that the recovery of this community is on the near-term horizon and will come in the form of creative solutions for expenses, encouraging development in natural resources that we have and partnerships.