One of the first things Henderson Mayor-Elect Debra March will do after she is sworn in Tuesday is help decide who will succeed her as the Ward 2 City Council member.
The three finalists are Las Vegas Deputy City Manager Orlando Sanchez, President and CEO of Rustler Industries Dan Shaw and Henderson Chamber of Commerce Foundation Manager Bill Bokelmann.
They were chosen from a pool of nine applicants that also included Bradley Sensibaugh, David Kallas, Howard Galin, Linda Hawse and Zeke O’Leary. Patrick Kang also submitted an application but withdrew it in support of Shaw.
After reviewing the applications, which were submitted May 22-25, outgoing Mayor Andy Hafen and the council members each independently selected two finalists. The three candidates with the most votes were invited to interview with City Council at a special meeting this morning.
During their interviews, the candidates were asked the same six questions about economic development, land use and zoning, the city’s master plan and recreational marijuana. They were also given the opportunity to make timed opening and closing statements.
Sanchez emphasized his 28 years of experience with the city of Las Vegas, where he began as a management analyst before working his way up to deputy city manager in 2006. When asked by March about how he might handle the transition to the policy-setting role of an elected official, Sanchez said he wanted to help set the vision for the city’s future.
Shaw stressed the importance of building up educational institutions to create a workforce that attracts businesses to the city. Shaw is the chairman of the Clark County Planning Commission and previously served on the Henderson Planning Commission for 14 years. He talked about his experience dealing with controversial land-use issues.
Bokelmann highlighted his economic development experience through the Henderson Chamber of Commerce, as well as his volunteerism, which includes being a board member on his homeowner’s association in Anthem.
Hafen and the council did not discuss the candidates after their interviews this morning. That discussion, as well as the appointment, will happen at the next council meeting on June 20.
The new council member will serve the remainder of the Ward 2 term, which ends in 2019.
The application and appointment process is one of the methods outlined in the Henderson City Charter for filling vacancies on the council.
The others are a direct appointment without an application process or a special election. The election could be conducted using physical voting centers or via mail-in ballots.
The council last month opted for the appointment-through-application process, citing the cost of conducting an election. A special election would have cost $365,000 or $509,000, depending on format.
The application and appointment process cost only $165 — the cost of printing a legal ad in a newspaper.
This morning, several residents spoke during a public comment period in opposition to that decision, calling it “undemocratic” and “unfair.”
“It feels like a process of promoting loyalty of service, not representing the people,” Ward 2 resident Robert Frank said after hearing the interviews.
Carrie Cox, who unsuccessfully challenged Councilman John Marz for his Ward 3 seat during this year’s municipal elections, told the council she would be working with senators to try to change how the city is allowed to handle vacancies. “We can afford an election,” she added.
Cox noted that while she disagreed with how the vacancy was being filled, Bokelmann would be a solid representative.
Three of the four members of the Henderson City Council were originally appointed to the board. Ward 4 Councilman Dan Stewart was appointed in January 2017, and Marz was appointed in January 2012. March was appointed in July 2009 to fill the seat vacated by Hafen when he became mayor. Hafen was elected to the council in 1987.