Mayor Carolyn Goodman, on the campaign trail for a second term in office, highlighted tourism and cultural development during a brief address on Wednesday before a group of politically influential Latinos.
Her visit with Hispanics in Politics follows that of City Councilman Stavros Anthony, who announced plans to challenge Goodman for the seat last month. Anthony met with the organization on Feb. 4.
Goodman failed to get an endorsement from the nonpartisan organization when she first campaigned for mayor four years ago — the group instead backed Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani. Hispanics in Politics President Fernando Romero said he "couldn't begin to say" who the group would be endorsing this year.
Here are three highlights from Goodman's 40-minute speech:
Goodman said she wants to create a retail-driven cultural hub for Latinos in Las Vegas.
The mayor’s plans were vague, but she said she envisions a marketplace similar to that of Los Angeles’ downtown Olvera Street, a walkable outdoor shopping mall that plays up a romantic portrayal of old Mexico. The tree-shaded mall marketplace is home to dozens of craft shops, restaurants and businesses, and it’s popular with tourists.
“Why can’t we create something like that here?” Goodman told the crowd at downtown’s Doña Maria's Tamales.
Local businessman Alejandro Alvarez chimed in with a similar plan he’s been pitching for more than two years: He wants to turn a portion of Cashman Center into a Latino cultural center run with public and private funding. Alvarez’s proposal is being considered by city officials.
“We don’t have to build anything from scratch,” Alvarez said. “With a stadium like this you could bring in artists like Luis Miguel, you could do boxing events and rodeos and charreadas. We don’t have anything like that.”
Goodman bragged about the revitalization of downtown Las Vegas and her efforts to draw tourists there.
She largely credited the work of her husband and predecessor, Oscar Goodman, and venture capitalist Tony Hsieh.
“We’re about tourism,” Goodman said. “We’re about conventions. We’re about bringing people from other parts of the country.”
Travelers from Mexico are the second largest group among international visitors to the destination, she told the crowd, and the city should better cater to that demographic.
Goodman spent a significant portion of the speech lamenting her failed effort to bring a soccer team and stadium to Las Vegas, an issue that could compromise her chances to keep her seat.
Goodman worked the room early into her speech by boasting that “life is good in Las Vegas” and touting the Hispanic community’s “huge pride in your culture.”
But later she ticked off a list of issues she believed to be hindering the city’s development and criticized those who opposed her plan to bring a soccer team and stadium to Las Vegas. One of those opponents has been Anthony.
Jose Solorio, president of a new political advocacy group dubbed the Political Advancement of Latinos Organization, said he was disappointed with Anthony’s objection to the stadium. Solorio, who listened to both candidates’ speeches, said he would vote to keep Goodman because she seems more in touch with the valley’s Hispanic community.
“Soccer is a passion for our people,” Solorio said.