With similar positions on controlled growth and preserving the community’s small-town charm, selecting who will serve as Boulder City’s mayor may be more a matter of preference on the candidate’s leadership style and personality.
Current Mayor Kiernan McManus, who is seeking his second term, is being challenged by Sen. Joe Hardy and Tanya Vece.
Each seeks what they believe is the best for Boulder City, but has a different path to achieve that goal.
McManus said he believes he already helped better the city, accomplished in part by helping replace the former city attorney, city clerk and city manager, three of the city’s four appointed officials.
“ … I certainly don’t take any pride in that, but it was absolutely something that had become apparent needed to be done.”
Their replacements, he said, have received high praise from the entire council and helped guide the city on a positive path.
He said he also feels he served well during the COVID-19 pandemic, which “dominated all we’ve done,” he said.
“I also still have the same concern, which motivated me to run for City Council and then for mayor that there are a lot of forces and people that would like to see Boulder City change in ways that I don’t believe the majority of our residents desire,” said McManus.
A native of Boulder City, McManus has 44 years of combined residency in the community. Before being elected mayor in 2019, he served as a councilman for two years and was appointed to the city’s Historic Preservation Committee in 2016.
Hardy, a 40-year resident who served as a Boulder City councilman from 1999 to 2002, when he was elected to the State Assembly, said he was recruited to run for mayor.
“Having been in the world of elections before and knowing that I am termed out from the State Senate in November and knowing that I liked to keep busy and knowing that I love Boulder City and knowing that I had experience and am somewhat blessed with longevity I said, ‘Yes, that was something that I could do.’”
He said he believes his ability to work with both sides of the aisle, especially in a nonpartisan position, without an “adversarialism,” would benefit the community. He also touted his relationships with officials from neighboring cities and throughout the state that he believes will benefit Boulder City.
Vece, who has lived in the community for 10 years, said she is running because she is “extraordinarily upset” with the current mayor’s treatment and handling of Boulder City. She said his behavior and lack of responsiveness to citizens is inappropriate for the office.
“You should serve all the people, not just those who championed your campaign,” she said.
For all three, maintaining the city’s controlled growth ordinance is a top priority.
McManus said the idea of growing the city has been an issue for more than 40 years.
“I believe in conservative growth. I think that’s what has made this town such a special place.”
Though not challenging the city’s controlled growth ordinance, in November the council voted 3-2 to accept a proposal from luxury home builder Toll Brothers to construct 177 homes on roughly 45 acres near Boulder Creek Golf Club, bringing in approximately $28.5 million over the course of the project, with the majority of the proceeds designated for construction of a new aquatic facility.
Citizens voted to sell the parcel in 2010 for residential development and it was rezoned in 2015 with minimum lot sizes ranging from 7,000 to 15,000 square feet. Toll Brothers’ proposal, however, has 78 5,000-square-foot lots and 99 7,000-square-foot lots.
Hardy said he doesn’t feel the proposal follows the intent of the ordinance.
“It’s a simple equation, when it first started… it started out as 100 lots and then it became, in one proposal, 122 and then in another proposal it came to 177 and then in another proposal it’s come to 185. And then it’s been talked about duplexes and condos. … I don’t think over 122 is what I would call controlled growth,” he said.
To keep with the spirit of the ordinance, he said it would be better to build fewer homes in the proposed new subdivision.
Smaller lot sizes
McManus said there were no developers interested in the lot sizes from the 2015 zoning plan applied by city staff and planning commissioners.
He said the majority of homes proposed to be built by Toll Brothers’ would be on 7,000-square-foot lots, similar to the lot sizes of the Boulder Hills Estate subdivision being built by StoryBook Homes.
He said he didn’t suggest the 5,000-square-foot lot size and cautioned citizens to remember that this is “just the first proposal; nothing has been approved yet.”
Tanya Vece said she believes accepting Toll Brothers’ proposal was tantamount to selling the city’s soul in exchange for money to build a new pool.
“I don’t like any tract home coming into Boulder City,” she said, adding that the Historic Preservation Committee could have done a better job of protecting the city’s aesthetics so that we could have some growth.
She said she believes that when there was no developer interested in purchasing the parcel it “should not have been brought back to the table at all.”
McManus, who voted against accepting Toll Brothers’ proposal, said he would prefer “to have condominiums or townhomes built along Adams (Boulevard) with significant, landscaped space in between, offering an opportunity for young families to purchase something affordable, something that doesn’t cost between $700,000 and $1 million.”
Hardy said he doesn’t believe the concept of “affordable housing goes with a golf course no matter the lot size.”
“I like the concept of seeing the golf course,” Hardy said. “We have this concept of clean, green Boulder City and if you can see the golf course you can see green, and if you can’t see the golf course through the myriad of smaller homes that are built, or condos or duplexes, then you come away from the small, growth-controlled green concept of Boulder City.”
Taking advantage of the golf course’s grass also would benefit with water conservation issues, he added.
Another growth issue locals are concerned about is the approximately 8,000 acres of land in the Eldorado Valley adjacent to the community that is being considered for annexation into Henderson. City Council officially opposed it in December, although McManus admits there isn’t really much the city can do to prevent the annexation.
He called it a very clear example of leapfrog development.
Vece agreed that there is little anyone in the city can do to prevent the annexation, but said she doesn’t believe the way it has been handled is appropriate.
“It felt like a punch to my gut when I saw the current mayor stand up at his state of the city and put ‘Henderson Nope’ on a slideshow — on his PR slide show. Nope is not enough.”
Vece said she spoke with Henderson Mayor Debra March about the issue and realized Boulder City’s “hands are tied” at this point.
Hardy, however, said he believes his contacts as a legislator have helped him develop relationships with the mayor of Henderson and staff in the city of Henderson and that will benefit Boulder City residents. He said Henderson officials have shown him their annexation plans and assured him that the land is slated strictly for commercial development on a scale that wouldn’t overpower the area and was compatible with the lay of the land. He said it doesn’t support residential development.
He said Boulder City looked at annexing the same property several years ago and determined that it could not deliver the necessary services and decided against adding the land to the city.
“I’m not sure anyone in the history of the United States has annexed more land than Boulder City and for us to say ‘Oh well Henderson shouldn’t annex any land’ is somewhat disingenuous because we annexed.”
Hardy said annexing that land allows Boulder City to protect and control its borders, preventing the kind of urban sprawl seen in Henderson and Las Vegas.
Additionally, because so much of the annexed land in the Eldorado Valley was designated for conservation and wildlife preservation, other cities in Southern Nevada have the ability to grow.
“And periodically when I’m at tables talking with different people from Henderson, Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and everywhere, they periodically look at Boulder City and say ‘You know you guys don’t really don’t contribute to us.’ And I have to remind them and I say ‘That if it weren’t for us you wouldn’t have what you have’ … So now they’re more amenable to us having a seat not only at the table but we have a vote on every commission in the greater Las Vegas area.”
He also said he would not be opposed to annexing more land, if necessary, to “proactively ensure our borders are protected” and so that Boulder City can continue to be “small, safe and secure.”
He said he also does not feel threatened by good neighbors and Henderson has been a good neighbor, sharing fire, police and backup calls.
Boulder City has a reputation of cooperation and that works in its favor.
Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at email@example.com or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.